Less Faith, More Reason

Steven Pinker in The Harvard Crimson:

Pinker_5There is much to praise in the new Report of the Committee on General Education. It is original, thoughtful, and well-written, and reflects considerable work on the part of our colleagues on the Task Force on General Education. The entire Harvard community should be grateful for the progress they have made and the issues they have asked us to address.

I have two reservations, however. The final report will attract wide attention in academia and in the press, where it will be read not for its specific recommendations, but as a once-in-a-generation statement on the nature of higher education from the world’s most prominent university. As such, we should be mindful of the way the report frames the goals of general education, and not just its suggested menu of courses. This means affirming the goal of the university as the institution dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and reason. (There is certainly no shortage of forces in the world pushing toward ignorance and irrationality.)

My first reservation pertains to the framing of the “Science and Technology” requirement, which aims too low. I think the problem lurks in some of the other sections, but I will leave it to my colleagues in other departments to comment on those…

My second major reservation concerns the “Reason and Faith” requirement…

More here.