Dogmatic Wisdom

Russell Jacoby, Author
Russell Jacoby, Author Doubleday Books $22.95 (235p) ISBN 978-0-385-42516-2
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
In a slashing if not wholly original polemic, UCLA historian Jacoby ( The Last Intellectuals ) charges that academic debates over multiculturalism, politically correct language, free speech and curriculum are largely diversionary, shifting attention away from more pressing problems. The rising costs of education, fewer teachers, declining resources, alienated students, the gentrification of higher education (i.e., the increasing dominance by the wealthy of select universities)--these are issues we should be focusing on, Russell argues. Puncturing conservatives' frequent charges that corrosive relativism and left-liberal views have taken over the campus, Jacoby does an expert demolition job on Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and Dinesh D'Souza's Illiberal Education . At the same time, he cautions that cultural pluralism on campus may foster a new parochialism, fueling hostility and divisiveness as ``African-Americans study African-Americans; Latinos study Latinos; women study women.'' (Apr.)