Saturday, September 25, 2010

Kallen

Horace Kallen, an all-around public intellectual, taught at the New School from 1919 until 1973 (!). Kallen is now remembered as the author of the idea of "cultural pluralism," an alternative to the "melting pot," but his interests were far broader. Pragmatist, democratic theorist and early Zionist, he was a mainstay of New School life. He was a wit too:

'The scholar's world, like the story-teller's, is the world of stories ... and it is true that most of them are false ideas. Were most not false, there would be no generations of scholars to count."
The Book of Job as Greek Tragedy
(NY: Hill and Wang, 1959 [1918]), xviii

College Prolongs Infancy
Title of a pamphlet from 1932

People say they cannot change the past. But Kallen asked: "What else is there to change? What else is the present but the past changing?"
Milton R. Konvitz, "Horace Meyer Kallen (1882-1974): In Praise of Hyphenation and Orchestration," in The Legacy of Horace M. Kallen, ed. Konvitz (Herzl Press 1987), 33

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