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David Gelernter: “You Need To Know Who You Are To Begin With”

David Klinghoffer

David Gelernter

The new episode of Great Minds with Michael Medved is out. The video version of the podcast, presented by Discovery Institute, will follow the audio. Medved conducts a wide-ranging conversation with Yale polymath and computer scientist David Gelernter on science as an “international bully,” the mystery of consciousness, and the failure of universities, including Gelernter’s (and Medved’s) own, to tell students who they are.

The last point is vital. Medved asks Dr. Gelernter what he’d do if given the opportunity to lead Yale, as president or dean. Gelernter describes the core curriculum he would seek to install. It would be focused on Western “history, art, and letters.” Why? Because “You need to know who you are to begin with. You need to start at home, because that’s who you are.”

What Is a Human Being? Who Are We?

It’s a profound point. Knowing who you are, where you came from, is a central purpose of education. And not only in the humanities but, I would add, in biology. That’s what the Darwin controversy is all about. It asks: What is a human being? Who are we? Where do we come from? Are we here thanks to blind and dumb material processes alone? Or did a more purposeful dynamic come into play?

David Gelernter

Universities hide the truth from students. They lie about and intimidate those who think independently. And they generally suppress any inkling that the relevant questions may be more complicated and interesting than orthodox evolutionists insist. And so students learn to take dictation from the mob, in this as in many other subject areas. That’s a colossal disservice.

Gelernter is the author of The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness, America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture, Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion, and other books. Like Medved, he’s a fascinating and wonderfully independent thinker and talker.

Photo: Yale University campus, dusk, via Wikimedia Commons.