Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Quote of the Day (Jacques Barzun, on ‘The Need for a Body of Common Knowledge’)

“The need for a body of common knowledge and common reference does not disappear when a society is pluralistic. On the contrary, it grows more necessary, so that people of different origins and occupation may quickly find familiar ground and as we say, speak a common language. It not only saves time and embarrassment, but it also ensures a kind of mutual confidence and goodwill. One is not addressing an alien, as blank as a stone wall, but a responsive creature whose mind is filled with the same images, memories, and vocabulary as oneself. Otherwise, with the unstoppable march of specialization, the individual mind is doomed to solitude and the individual heart to drying up.”— Columbia Univ. teacher, historian, educator, cultural critic and administrator Jacques Barzun (1907-2012), Of What Use the Classics Today?” (1987)

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