Right Thinkers #2: Irving Babbitt (1865-1933)
I wanted to write up something about Irving Babbitt, one of the twentieth century’s great defenders of the classical tradition of education, but I discovered a fantastic essay on Babbitt by Robert C. Koons, first published in Modern Age, that says everything I wanted to say and much more.
Recognizing that education in the twenty-first century has become almost completely removed from the principles that Babbitt upheld, Koons envisions the rise of a new class of independent scholars:
“Marvelous lectures and texts are now available for free online as an academic open source. Social media and teleconferencing make possible the spontaneous formation of international communities of scholarly amateurs (in the original sense of the word), in and through which the heritage of the West can find its outlet. All that is needed is for the remaining scholars of the true republic of letters, those faithful thousands who have not ‘bowed the knee to Baal,’ to join together to provide some formal quality control to the process.”
This should inspire every scholar who has been excluded by the current orthodoxy.
Koons, Robert C. “The War of the Three Humanisms: Irving Babbitt and the Recovery of Classical Learning.” Modern Age 52.3 (Summer 2010). 198-207.