Stephen Speicher

Founders College website

36 posts in this topic

Those college rankings are somewhat pointless, however. US News changes the criteria every year, generally rotating Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Duke, MIT, and Caltech around the top three. I wouldn't take it as too much of an indication of anything.

Out of curiosity, I looked at the last four rankings.

2007: Princeton, Harvard, Yale

2006: Princeton, Harvard, Yale

2005: Harvard, Princeton, Yale

2004: Harvard, Princeton, Yale

Seems fairly stable, with Yale in 3rd place and Princeton and Harvard alternating 1st and 2nd.

But, regardless, yes, I didn't offer these rankings as authoritative. I only wanted to point out that Harvard is generally considered to be a top-notch university, which made Donald Kagan's critique of Harvard to be of particular interest.

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Oh, I understand. I just wanted to state that lest anyone didn't know about those rankings' arbitrary nature.

In the past, the rankings have been:

1)Caltech

2)Harvard

3)MIT

4)Stanford/Yale

and

1)Duke/Harvard

3)Princeton

and

1)Princeton

2)Harvard

3)Duke/Yale

and

1)Stanford

2)Harvard/Princeton

I doubt in reality that they change that much from year to year relative to each other.

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Stephen,

After having read the hit piece at NoumenalSelf and the piling on in the comments there and at various other blogs, it is a relief to find rationality and objectivity still can be found in the Objectivist community here at The Forum.

Still, if what msb at NoodleFood claims in his comments on the subject there are true (http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/comments/view.pl?entry=115721413281491265#58), more than a few of the culprits are Objectivist Grad students. Is this the product of years of training in Objectivist philosophy? And worse, have my contributions to ARI gone to fund such mediocrity?

I certainly hope a retraction and apology will be forthcoming. Even if they have their own reasons for opposing this venture, what they have expressed, and the way they have expressed it, is NOT what I would expect from a serious student of Objectivism. Something is seriously wrong here.

George

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I am actually very interested in these comments by Donald Kagan.

He is a very popular, and from what I've read of his, very knowledgeable Classicist.

I also know that Victor Hanson points to him as a good Classicist, and one whom many can trust to read (The state of Classics today is much like everything else...multiculturalism, post-modernism, feminism, etc. tearing to shreds the greatness of our Greek and Roman heritage).

Has anybody read anything else of Kagan's besides his Classical writings?

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Still, if what msb at NoodleFood claims in his comments on the subject there are true (http://www.dianahsieh.com/cgi-bin/blog/comments/view.pl?entry=115721413281491265#58), more than a few of the culprits are Objectivist Grad students. Is this the product of years of training in Objectivist philosophy? And worse, have my contributions to ARI gone to fund such mediocrity?

I think it would be a mistake to generalize too much from this isolated instance. I suspect that the lack of objectivity that has been exhibited, by NoumenalSelf and GS in particular, is more a reflection on some aspect of their psychology or character than on any formal training in Objectivism that they have received. And I also know GS to be far from a "mediocrity," intellectually.

I certainly hope a retraction and apology will be forthcoming. Even if they have their own reasons for opposing this venture, what they have expressed, and the way they have expressed it, is NOT what I would expect from a serious student of Objectivism. Something is seriously wrong here.

Well, since so much personal commentary has been bandied about on the NoumenSelf and NoodleFood forums, for what it is worth ... I suspect that the main culprits, NoumenSelf and GS, have very strong personal feelings against Hull, and in lieu of expressing their doubts based on their personal assessments, they have concocted these elaborate rationalizations and then wonder why so many fail to appreciate their "arguments." I suspect that most of the others who chimed in are more like followers.

Personally, I find this whole situation to be really sad, if not pathetic. As I have said before, I have my own personal disagreements with Gary Hull, and I have reservations about the project, but to rip apart Founders College with such smear, innuendo, and illogic, is a gross injustice. If what I suspect is true, these detractors should have had the personal insight and courage to publicly denounce the project for the actual reasons they hold, or they should have kept quiet, publicly. What they chose to do, is disgraceful.

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Regarding Founders College, since such a furor has arisen over it, I thought I'd throw in my best wishes to Gary Hull for his endeavor.

I've listened to several taped lectures by Hull, including "Integration, the Dynamo of Reason", and have nothing but a positive view of his work. As I understand it, Hull has a good reputation as a teacher at Duke, and is respected by other Objectivist intellectuals, judging by the fact that he's been around for many years and has given many courses at Objectivist conferences.

I think it's wrong to assume that ARI disapproves of Founders College. That's a supposition, not a statement made based on fact, and it assumes the worst of Dr Hull. Given what I know about him, that I can't countenance. [in passing, I wonder if any asked ARI directly whether they disapprove.]

I think it's wrong to assume that those of us who are positive about the idea fully endorse the college. I don't yet have enough facts to make an endorsement. My optimism was based on the reputation of Gary Hull and the fact that he is an Objectivist. I would never recommend the college at this early stage. If I were of an age where I was to attend university I'd research it thoroughly before hand. That's just common sense.

I would also like to point out that NS claims there are no experienced professors who have signed on. What of Eric Daniels? He's a high quality historian and teacher. I don't know to what extent he has signed on, but his name was mentioned as one of those involved in the project.

Lest we forget, Gary Hull has the acquaintance of many quality intellectuals, from Dr. Bernstein to Dr. Peikoff. I'm not saying they are going to teach there, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility.

Gary Hull is taking a risk, and he may genuinely have a flawed idea, but since I don’t have enough facts to draw a solid conclusion I’m still in the evaluation process.

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A friend of mine takes a course from Dr. Hull (apparently, it is a course on Objectivism, using OPAR as a text book) and has nothing but praise for his teaching.

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The concept behind the Founders curriculum is a revolutionary educational idea: a structured and integrated four-year program, not a hodgepodge of random courses. Each course integrates with and builds on the others, resulting in an educational foundation greater than the sum of its parts.

Our structured core curriculum encompasses a fixed regimen of study in which the courses follow a carefully designed sequence, creating a foundation for further study.

This systematically structured approach is very similar to what I had, except that it is in the humanities instead of science and engineering, and Founders seems to have more flexibility for the last two years.

We had a choice of two degrees: engineering or science. For the first two years everyone had almost the same courses; for the 3rd and 4th years the courses were almost all determined by whether you were in the "unified engineering curriculum" or the "unified science curriculum". The required courses were designed to cover the fundamentals of all the major building blocks of engineering and (physical) science.

On top of the common base, plus the emphasis on further fundamentals of either science or engineering, in the last two years there were a few electives (I think one per semester) allowing further emphasis on a specific discipline: physics or chemistry or mathematics; or mechanical or electrical or chemical or civil engineering, etc. More electives were available as an additional option: if you made the dean's list you could take a free graduate level course each semester as an additional elective.

There was also one humanities course per semester -- the first two years were fixed (starting with the Greeks and Romans), with electives after that. That part was more traditionally scattered and garbled but had the virtue of enough flexibility to keep it largely out of the way of more serious work :-)

I hope that Founders eventually expands more into the sciences. All they have now is two semesters of history of science, and electives in "evolution" and an unspecified seminar topic. Even liberal arts majors will typically need more applied mathematics such as probability and statistics. Economics majors will be especially limited, although some of it may be included in the economics courses.

But the design of the history of science sequence looks much better than the usual "physics for poets" approach to teaching "science" to liberal arts majors in which nothing can be understood because it pretends to cover the same material but anything "hard" (all the interesting and essential parts) is ignored in over simplification. The emphasis in the history of science on "how scientists think" could be good if properly presented -- you don't get that just from duplicating the experiments listed: the hard part is deciding what to try, analyzing all the false starts and mistakes, and making sense of it all without reading it first in a text book.

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I hope that Founders eventually expands more into the sciences.

My understanding is that Founders College intends to develop a department of science, with an intiial physics, chemistry, and biology curriculum within the first five years.

Even liberal arts majors will typically need more applied mathematics such as probability and statistics.

I agree that the curriculum could benefit from a good course in applied mathematics. And, of course, mathematics should be integral to the eventual science curriculum.

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