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Mental Discipline.



To the Editor of the CRIMSON:

The editorial in today's CRIMSON on the status of the Ph.D. degree is to the point. It answers the arguments of Mr. Marks and Mr. Pingree well enough, but a further remark or two may be in place.

The root of the dispute lies in the lack of sympathy between the above-mentioned gentlemen, and the institution which they attack. Neither of them has much love for institutional discipline. I know one personally, and the other by literary repute (as most authors are known). Both are clever, and "plastic", but neither is plastic to the type of formative discipline which they attack.

The severity of minute philological and factual study is condemned. In the course of two years of such (and other sorts of) graduate study, I have never yet failed to find in any graduate student a similar spark of rebellion against some of this "arid scholarship". Even the "sorriest" of the lot had rather that the desert were not quite so broad, nor so dry.--Many such students die of thirst, and many turn back. But there are always some who see "the sense of going further," and who have the mental courage to go, believing that the knowledge and discipline gained are worth the while.

There is an old song, originating in another institution, which requires hard discipline, to the effect that:--

"You're in the army now,

"You're not behind a plow

"You'll never get rich

"A-digging a ditch

"You're in the army now."

--There are other verses of the song, but this much is only pertinent. Your editorial suggested a parallel between graduate students and ditch-diggers. There is one, decidedly. Some graduate study consists largely in the digging of intellectual ditches, and will never "get you rich", even in ideas. But beyond that, there is the study which may be compared with marching and fighting, with exploring and discovering.

I do not mean to argue that there is not often too much minute study--too much philological digging of ditches, into which many of the inexpert fall, and are buried. There may be too much. But reform comes best from within. "Liberty" is not a magazine, but an intrinsic conception. The "What Price Glory" of graduate scholarship will be written in its own due time by a scholar (and there are many such) who possess that conception. F. I. Carpenter '24.   October 29th, 1926.

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