Knowledge, Love, and the Meaning of Life

Drawing of Hayden White
Drawing of Hayden White by A.E. Kieren for The Chronicle of Higher Education

I suspect that anyone involved with the teaching of undergraduates will appreciate this interview (from 2008, but heretofore unpublished) with the historian Hayden White, who died last year.  I encountered White’s work in graduate school, when his Metahistory changed the way I thought about scholarship. In this interview, practically every response he offers contains multiple gems of insight, and those who are interested in helping students with matters of vocational exploration and discernment may find his thoughts quite inspiring. In addition, those readers who work at liberal arts institutions may be particularly interested in the person whom White considers to be the greatest teacher of all time.

Robert Pogue Harrison, who introduces the interview for the Chronicle, notes that “As departments shutter and enrollments plummet, White’s thoughts on professionalism, vocation, and love are more relevant than ever.”

The interview can be found here. It may be behind a firewall, but most academic institutions subscribe to the Chronicle and their libraries can provide access for anyone who hits a roadblock.

I hope others find this short interview as inspiring and enlightening as I did!

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