Professors and Politics

Cornell Daily Sun, May 4, 1962.


The purpose of the university places it in a position of uneasy tension with the community, and the tension is likely to increase with the extent to which this purpose is fulfilled. Devoted to the discovery of truth, it is likely to be unmindful of what passes for truth in the community, of those opinions that, nevertheless, form the very basis of the community. The notion of the absent-minded professor and the contemptuous reference to “ivory-tower thinkers” are merely peculiarly modern expressions of a tension that originated many years ago in the relation between Socrates and Athens, a relation that may be characterized ad the tension, and sometimes the deadly hostility, between philosophy and the polis, or politics.

Cornell Daily Sun [pdf]