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August 1960

The House of Intellect.

Arch Intern Med. 1960;106(2):307-308. doi:10.1001/archinte.1960.03820020147027

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One of my father's aphorisms used to puzzle me as a lad: "Whatever tends to build up or support a structure breaks it down—whatever tends to break it down builds it up." An example was the use of arch supports as a good method of weakening the arch. Jacques Barzun has directed the rapier thurst of his keenly trained and agile intellect to an examination of causes of the calamitous inadequacies of employment of the intellect in America today. In a devastating critique, Barzun, a groundedly learned scholar, teacher, and educator, puts clearly before us reasons for the fundamental American misunderstanding of what the intellect is all about; what is needed to produce it, what is needed to keep it alive, and what is needed to make it flourish. Supporting universal literacy by a sort of watered-down pandemic education has tended to break down a sturdy growth of the intellect.

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