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To the Editor of the Crimson:
Richard W. B. Lewis '39 deserves the reply which he invites. Surrounded by "an arrogant confusion everywhere as to the meaning and value of attending college, . . . related as cause and effect with an analogous chaos in the world generally," Mr. Lewis has probably asked his question concerning the purpose of an intellectual institution many times before. No doubt he has met the popular pedagogical comeback, "Well, what do you think?"
Mr. Lewis has done well not to take this lying down. He has evidently asked himself what he thinks, and his altogether natural cry of "You tell me!" has waited long. In challenging the college publications of the last four years to uncover "a single editorial or article of any profundity. . . . on the subject of education," he no doubt remembers that these publications, likewise in his predicament, can only echo his cry. At the same time, he should arouse the Crimson to point to its issue of September 18, 1936, in which the editors reproduced in full the Tercentenary Oration of President Conant.
The President does not there set down an integrated and meaningful scheme for the four-year curriculum. On the contrary, he dates the beginning of our current intellectual anarchy a century back and he predicts the achievement of "an educational basis for a unified, coherent culture suited to a democratic country in a scientific age" a century ahead. Today, the educational program which Mr. Lewis seeks does not exist.
What does, according to the President, exist and remain constant, is the essence of the university tradition, having four ultimate sources of strength: "first, the cultivation of learning for its own sake; secondly, the general educational stream of the liberal arts; thirdly, the educational stream that makes possible the professions; and, lastly, the never-failing river of student life carrying all the power that comes from the gregarious impulses of human beings."
If Mr. Lewis will study carefully the treatment given by the rest of the Oration to these four elements, he will discover the only answer which Harvard, to my knowledge, has to offer. Christopher Huntington '32.