Spring/printemps 2003
Articles

Cicero Versus Socrates: The Liberal Arts Debate in the 1960s at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus

James M. Pitsula
Department of History, University of Regina
Bio
Published May 1, 2003
How to Cite
Pitsula, James M. 2003. “Cicero Versus Socrates: The Liberal Arts Debate in the 1960s at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus”. Historical Studies in Education / Revue d’histoire De l’éducation 15 (1), 101-29. https://historicalstudiesineducation.ca/hse/index.php/edu_hse-rhe/article/view/476.

Abstract

The liberal arts debate among the faculty at Regina Campus in the 1960s reflected the social and political movements of the day, especially the rise of student power and the New Left. At the same time, it revived a much older debate about the nature of liberal education, which historian Bruce Kimball traces back to the thought of Socrates and Cicero. Kimball’s typology of “orators” versus “philosophers” brings order and clarity to what otherwise appears as a jumbled mix of conflicting viewpoints. The “oratorical” tradition favors general education based on knowable truth as a means to prepare youth for responsible and active citizenship. The “philosophical” or “liberal-free” ideal emphasizes the freedom to search for truth, an eternal quest that never attains its goal, and has led to the dominance of scientific research and the fragmentation of knowledge. The “orators” lost the sixties debate, and the “liberal-free” ideal is now almost uncontested.