Christian theology, Western civilization, and, above all else, mental discipline—Babbitt’s case for the humanities relied on none of these foundations.
Numerous jeremiads today about American higher education demonstrate a disinclination to examine their subject in a broad historical perspective. Thus many such works seldom cast their purview earlier than the academic culture wars of the 1980s and 1990s, and see these decades as the years that inaugurated the push to treat higher education as a business.
Praise of contemplation and speculation does not constitute a refutation of positivism.
The novel’s aesthetic and interpretive complexity, it will be seen, underlines the multi-layered meaning of salvation itself, in a modern world in which salvation is not necessarily one of divine grace, of deliverance from sin and damnation, in short, of redemption in the hands of an all-powerful God.