Page:Essays on the Higher Education.djvu/23

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7
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

or French, or German, or Sandwich-Islands philosophy be? For the only answer to all these inquiries is that philosophy is not a matter for adjustment, as a means, to national requirements, but every nation and individual that cultivates philosophy should aim at having a true philosophy. On the contrary, the inquiry, "What should the American university be?" is not an irrational inquiry, for it is an inquiry after the best means to an end. For the same reason it cannot be raised and answered as a purely speculative inquiry; since the nature of the material out of which the American university must be constituted, if it is constituted at all, imposes upon every ideal some very hard and unavoidable limitations.

Accordingly, I shall abstain as carefully from speculating about an unattainable ideal as from describing a nonentity. Since neither the historical nor the speculative method can be pursued exclusively to their final results, let us be content to go only a little way into the subject by the use of both methods. For although there is no history, as yet, of the development of the American university, there are colleges and professional schools and other institutions of the so-called higher learning in this country, and all these institutions have a tolerably rich and instructive history. If we are ever to attain a distinctive university education, such as can be properly called "American," these