algernonsidney

John Hospers, 1918-2011

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[...] despite his many accomplishments and his remarkable gifts as a teacher who was beloved by his students, John paid dearly for his espousal of libertarianism. He was forced to retire from USC at the age of 65. There was no question in his mind that his dismissal was the result of his political convictions. (Other teachers of the same age were not compelled to retire.) John loved teaching above all else, and it broke his heart to have to abandon it. It was a pain that never went away, and he would often refer to it as the great tragedy of his life.

I never knew this until now. I'm immensely saddened for him, though not at all shocked or surprised.

What makes this a redoubled tragedy is that the University of Southern California — as I still find to not be universally known, among friends and contacts — is not a government institution, but a private one. That this kind of apparent ostracism and group-think extends to private colleges, ones that are widely presumed to be more insulated from them, shows that such philosophic diminution and decay goes far beyond the realm of political funding struggles.

I'm sure Barbara could cite examples of this at New York University, also private, on the other coast. I can testify to it at Northwestern University, between the two in Illinois. Avoiding direct government funding is no guarantee of a campus culture of truly independent thought.

The problem is that even allegedly "private" universities are all recipients of huge quantities of government money, generally in the form of research grants. As far as I know, the only private university in the entire country that does not take federal funds is Hillsdale College. And even Hillsdale, I believe, is the recipient of government funds at the state and local level. Without government, in the context of a totally free market, universities as they exist today would not exist at all. Whatever shape they would take, they would look very different than they do now. So modern universities are overwhelmingly creatures of the state.

I have no doubt but that USC is the recipient of millions of dollars of government research grants. So it's not terribly surprising that a libertarian like Hospers who comes out against such things would not be very popular at a university that is a massive recipient of government largesse.

Martin

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On 6/13/2011 at 8:52 PM, Barbara Branden said:

Jerry Biggers wrote:

"I fondly recall a presidential campaign address that he gave at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago in the fall of 1972. It took a lot of guts for him to agree to be the first Presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, which certainly would have been looked upon disapprovingly by his academic peers. It certainly did not advance his status among fellow academics (although by that time, he was already well-established and was Chairman of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Southern California). He also authored Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow around that time."

Jerry, despite his many accomplishments and his remarkable gifts as a teacher who was beloved by his students, John paid dearly for his espousal of libertarianism. He was forced to retire from USC at the age of 65. There was no question in his mind that his dismissal was the result of his political convictions. (Other teachers of the same age were not compelled to retire.) John loved teaching above all else, and it broke his heart to have to abandon it. It was a pain that never went away, and he would often refer to it as the great tragedy of his life.

But he was not forgotten. James Kilbourne and I hosted a party for John on the occasion of his 90th birthday, and I made it known in advance that words of congratulation could be e-mailed to me, to be read to John at the party. E-mails poured in, not just from friends and colleagues but from John's students from 30, 40, 50 years ago, thanking him for the inestimable value this brilliant and caring man had contributed to their lives.

Barbara

Barbara last visited OL on March 28, 2012--which, coincidentally, was my 68th birthday.

--Brant

President Eisenhower died on my 25th, which was the last day I smoked--not coincidentally

"coincidentally"--I mean, "coincidence,"  is over-rated

 

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Martin wrote, “As far as I know, the only private university in the entire country that does not take federal funds is Hillsdale College.”

It is time I recontributed to them. I read their bi-monthly magazine “Imprimis.” The April issue featured, “The Left’s War On Free Speech,” by Kimberley Strassel who also writes a column, “Potomac Watch,” for “The Wall Street Journal.” And she is also a member of the WSJ’s editorial board.    

Peter

edit. done. $100 to Hillsdale College 

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