Monday, June 30, 2014


From Richard Hofstadter's Pulitzer Prize winning 1962 book "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life."

The anti-intellectualism of businessmen, interpreted narrowly as hostility to intellectuals, is mainly a political phenomenon. But interpreted more broadly as a suspicion of intellect itself, it is part of the extensive American devotion to practicality and direct experience which ramifies through almost every area of American life. With some variations of details suitable to social classes and historical circumstances, the excessive practical bias so often attributed only to business is found almost everywhere in America. In itself, a certain wholesome regard for the practical needs no defense and deserves no disparagement, so long as it does not aspire to exclusiveness, so long as other aspects of human experience are not denigrated and ridiculed. Practical vigor is a virtue; what has been spiritually crippling in our history is the tendency to make a mystique of practicality.

The "mystique of practicality" is why scholastic arts programs are underfunded and rhetorically denigrated throughout the land. Among other problems.