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The John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy

The Purpose of the University.

May 15-17, 1992



By raising the question of the purpose of a university, we hope to canvass such alternatives as the following: liberation of individuals from the myths of the cave; integrating knowledge (and faith?) under a master science; scientific research to improve the human condition; preparing the citizens and leaders of a liberal democracy; fostering genius; creating or preserving a single national culture; transmitting the best from every culture; and fostering cultural diversity or sensitivity to cultural diversity. We thus hope to cast some indirect light on the current American controversy over "multiculturalism." We also hope to ask whether there can be any unity of purpose bridging the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences.

Conference Schedule

Friday, May 15


Plato's View

James H. Nichols, Jr.
Claremont McKenna College


The Revealed Religions

Ernest Fortin
Boston College Hillel Fradkin
Bradley Foundation

Saturday, May 16


Scientific Modernity: Bacon

Richard Kennington
Catholic University of America


The German Enlightenment

Richard Velkley
Stonehill College

Sunday, May 17


The Crisis of the Theoretical Life

Werner Dannhauser
Cornell University

Pierre Manent
Collége de France

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Revised: January 2nd, 2000