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Purely academic

In his recent book Save the World on Your Own Time, Stanley Fish tells his fellow academics to shut up and teach, and stop politicizing the classroom. Here is my review of the book, for the online edition of City Journal.

Comments (6)

That's pretty rich, coming from Stanley Fish. Let's all remember that Stanley Fish was in the vanguard of the tearing down of the humanities back in the 80's. And, as I recall, telling us all "Move along; all's well; nothing to see here," even as postmodernism was reducing the English departments to dust and ashes.

"ought to think hard before advocating administrative measures for redressing the imbalance."

I _think_ that is a reference to that weird notion (was it from Horowitz?) of some sort of "political balance law" or something like that to try to fix the problem of leftwing balance in the university. I always thought that was a bad idea. Likely, in fact, to lead to the opposite of its intended effect. But if that isn't what Fish is talking about, then I don't know what he has in mind.

E.F. - I am *so* glad to see you writing for *City Journal* - and so hoping that you can co-exist there with Heather MacDonald, without the universe imploding...

But, be that as it may, what's gotten into Stanley Fish, lately? He *seems* to be talking sense, here - but, I mean, seriously - what are the chances?

Lydia - you beat me to the punch.

Hi Lydia and Steve,

Yes, Fish is an odd bird, no? (If that makes sense.) And yes, Lydia, Horowitz was his target. No rips in the space-time continuum yet, Steve...!

Stanley Fish has always been an intelligent and productive man. To his great credit, he's also a teachable man. Unlike with some scholars, arguments have weight with him. He has sorted his way through many issues and, when necessary, changed his mind, and done so publicly -- which I take to be an unusual display of both strength of character and humility. When he does change his mind, he often comes out on what I'd call the right side of things, like abortion, like his opposition to the new atheists, like his views on the humanities and university governance, among others.

Good scholars know that academic life is a pilgrimage, that you don't always arrive at the right answer on the first attempt. Good scholars know that sometimes you have go back and re-assess your work. When you do, if you are honest enough and careful enough, you sometimes discover that you were were wrong. You then must change your views accordingly. In that light, Stanley Fish is an academic pilgrim -- quite a good one.

Stanley Fish is pro-life? I've gotta google this one.

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