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A conservative college professor's compelling defense of liberal education Not so long ago, conservative intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr. believed universities were worth fighting for. Today, conservatives seem more inclined to burn them down. In Let's Be Reasonable, conservative political theorist and professor Jonathan Marks finds in liberal education an antid A conservative college professor's compelling defense of liberal education Not so long ago, conservative intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr. believed universities were worth fighting for. Today, conservatives seem more inclined to burn them down. In Let's Be Reasonable, conservative political theorist and professor Jonathan Marks finds in liberal education an antidote to this despair, arguing that the true purpose of college is to encourage people to be reasonable--and revealing why the health of our democracy is at stake. Drawing on the ideas of John Locke and other thinkers, Marks presents the case for why, now more than ever, conservatives must not give up on higher education. He recognizes that professors and administrators frequently adopt the language and priorities of the left, but he explains why conservative nightmare visions of liberal persecution and indoctrination bear little resemblance to what actually goes on in college classrooms. Marks examines why advocates for liberal education struggle to offer a coherent defense of themselves against their conservative critics, and demonstrates why such a defense must rest on the cultivation of reason and of pride in being reasonable. More than just a campus battlefield guide, Let's Be Reasonable recovers what is truly liberal about liberal education--the ability to reason for oneself and with others--and shows why the liberally educated person considers reason to be more than just a tool for scoring political points.


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A conservative college professor's compelling defense of liberal education Not so long ago, conservative intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr. believed universities were worth fighting for. Today, conservatives seem more inclined to burn them down. In Let's Be Reasonable, conservative political theorist and professor Jonathan Marks finds in liberal education an antid A conservative college professor's compelling defense of liberal education Not so long ago, conservative intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr. believed universities were worth fighting for. Today, conservatives seem more inclined to burn them down. In Let's Be Reasonable, conservative political theorist and professor Jonathan Marks finds in liberal education an antidote to this despair, arguing that the true purpose of college is to encourage people to be reasonable--and revealing why the health of our democracy is at stake. Drawing on the ideas of John Locke and other thinkers, Marks presents the case for why, now more than ever, conservatives must not give up on higher education. He recognizes that professors and administrators frequently adopt the language and priorities of the left, but he explains why conservative nightmare visions of liberal persecution and indoctrination bear little resemblance to what actually goes on in college classrooms. Marks examines why advocates for liberal education struggle to offer a coherent defense of themselves against their conservative critics, and demonstrates why such a defense must rest on the cultivation of reason and of pride in being reasonable. More than just a campus battlefield guide, Let's Be Reasonable recovers what is truly liberal about liberal education--the ability to reason for oneself and with others--and shows why the liberally educated person considers reason to be more than just a tool for scoring political points.

45 review for Let's Be Reasonable: A Conservative Case for Liberal Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chris Boutté

    I wasn’t familiar with the work of Jonathan Marks, but someone recommended this book, and I’m all about reason, so I gave it a chance. After reading this book, I honestly think this is one of the most important books of recent years, and I really hope it gets the attention it deserves. It’s definitely up there with books like The Coddling of the American Mind and others that are trying to repair the college experience through honest and difficult conversations. Marks identifies as a conservative I wasn’t familiar with the work of Jonathan Marks, but someone recommended this book, and I’m all about reason, so I gave it a chance. After reading this book, I honestly think this is one of the most important books of recent years, and I really hope it gets the attention it deserves. It’s definitely up there with books like The Coddling of the American Mind and others that are trying to repair the college experience through honest and difficult conversations. Marks identifies as a conservative, and in this book, he provides some criticisms of “his side” while arguing for liberal education. As soon as I started this book, all I could think was that I wish more left-leaning figures would do the same. Through philosophy and logical arguments, Marks makes a great case for steps colleges across the country can take to foster a diversity of ideas and mold our youth into better thinkers with an ability to listen to opinions they disagree with. My only critique of the book is minor, and it may just be because of my lack of interest/understanding of the history and politics of Israel. In chapter 5, Marks focuses on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS), and it just felt out of place for me. Again, this may just be a “me” thing, and I may be ignorant to this issue on college campuses. But other than that, I can’t recommend this book enough, and it bums me out that I only learned about it months after the release by chance. It deserves much more recognition.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Corinne Blackmer

    As a professor, I am not as wedded as Jonathan Marks is, to having students read the Great Books. I have no objection to them per se (after all I teach the Hebrew Bible) but think two things: one, that students can gain access to wisdom through other books, and two, students often need "bridge texts" that are closer to their lived experience to retain their passion for and interest in reading. The author has an excellent section on the malign influence of the BDS movement on college campuses, an As a professor, I am not as wedded as Jonathan Marks is, to having students read the Great Books. I have no objection to them per se (after all I teach the Hebrew Bible) but think two things: one, that students can gain access to wisdom through other books, and two, students often need "bridge texts" that are closer to their lived experience to retain their passion for and interest in reading. The author has an excellent section on the malign influence of the BDS movement on college campuses, and also has wide ranging and sensible comments on the dangers of politicizing knowledge and attacking academic freedom. I thought one of his best insights was that leftist extremists often gain control because they are willing to push the envelope and most of their colleagues, who just want to be left alone, go along to avoid "rocking the boat," as well as to maintain collegial relations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    University of Chicago Magazine

    Jonathan Marks, AB'91, AM'94, PhD'97 Author From the author: "A conservative professor writes sympathetically about higher education, offering an antidote to the despair that masquerades as realism on his side of the aisle. Liberal education’s aim, he argues, is to shape people who consider reason an authority, rather than a tool for overcoming others." Jonathan Marks, AB'91, AM'94, PhD'97 Author From the author: "A conservative professor writes sympathetically about higher education, offering an antidote to the despair that masquerades as realism on his side of the aisle. Liberal education’s aim, he argues, is to shape people who consider reason an authority, rather than a tool for overcoming others."

  4. 5 out of 5

    James Nasipak

    This is an excellent book to begin the discussion of the academy as a place for reason and developing reason in individuals. Many conservatives want to throw out the proverbial “baby with the bath water” when it comes to higher education, however. Mark’s makes a good argument to reimagine how to make changes and in turn return higher education to its origins.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anna Marks

  6. 4 out of 5

    Andy Schreiber

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bob Miller

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Martindale

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chobbs66

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steven Pirtle

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  14. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tarrant

  15. 5 out of 5

    Matt Hobbs

  16. 5 out of 5

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  17. 4 out of 5

    Xavier Bonilla

  18. 4 out of 5

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    Luke Haumesser

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  22. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Markby

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    Kevin Purnell

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bookreader

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul Elliott

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ana Cristina Merino Jiménez

  27. 4 out of 5

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  28. 5 out of 5

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  30. 5 out of 5

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  31. 5 out of 5

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  33. 4 out of 5

    Reader2007

  34. 5 out of 5

    Amy Koehler

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  37. 5 out of 5

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  38. 4 out of 5

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  40. 4 out of 5

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  42. 4 out of 5

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  43. 4 out of 5

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