John von Heyking

A Utilitarian's Indirect Plea for the Liberal Arts
By John von Heyking on May 12, 2011

Gwyn Morgan is the retired founding CEO of Encana Corporation, one of North America’s largest natural gas suppliers.  He has also established himself in the media as a gadfly critic of the inefficiencies of universities, especially their business of teaching the liberal arts.  His outstanding accomplishments in business and in public life make him well qualified to comment on the characteristics and skills necessary for people to succeed in the economy and as citizens.  His basic critique is that universities are producing too many liberal arts majors who end up under-employed, and producing too few engineering, information technology, and health care graduates which are fields in which employers have great difficulty finding employees.  Universities need to shift resources toward these vocational programs from the liberal arts, which don’t seem very useful.

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Professor as Pimp, Education as Voyeurism?
By John von Heyking on March 15, 2011

Joseph Epstein has some sensible comments on the case of psychology professor, J. Michael Bailey, who had a woman demonstrate the use of a sex toy before his undergraduate class.  Epstein uses this “teachable moment” to reflect upon how little academic freedom means these days on account of the confusion in higher education as to the nature of education.  Instead of being intellectual authorities, universities, and their professors, have now become pimps, and university presidents their enablers.

Read more.

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Who Adds the Greatest Value to the Economy?: The Laborer, the CEO, or the Philosopher? Part Two
By John von Heyking on October 13, 2010

Our society tends to regard the university professor of liberal education as parasitic to the wealth creation of the laborer and CEO.  This false view neglects the moral economy in which each of them participates, and to which each adds his own unique value.

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Who Adds the Greatest Value to the Economy?: The Laborer, the CEO, or the Philosopher?
By John von Heyking on October 06, 2010

A common perception in our society has it that people who create wealth directly, such as the businessman or the laborer who works with his hands, produce more wealth than a university professor, who is seen as a parasite on their efforts. The university professor, especially one who teaches humanities and social sciences and thus does not invent some machine that enhances industrial production, produces nothing of value.  It’s even worse if he teaches at a public institution, because then he draws his inflated salary from the backs of those who actually work for a living. A recent encounter of mine challenges this perception in a fundamental way.

Part One of Two

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Tradition's Paradox--Laying Foundations of Rationality
By John von Heyking on August 25, 2010

Fourth in a brilliant series on Eva Brann's book. Must read if at all serious on the liberal arts!! [editor]

In an age of perpetual innovation – frequently identified with the very core of modernity – it can be difficult to defend tradition as a depository of wisdom.  However, Brann proposes to take what is strong and weak of the modern republic’s lax attitude toward tradition, and use them to illuminate the advantages of liberal education for the republic.

Fourth in a brilliant series on Eva Brann's book. Must read if at all serious on the liberal arts!! [editor]

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Reflections on Eva Brann's Paradoxes of Education in a Republic--Tradition's Paradoxes
By John von Heyking on August 09, 2010

Third in a series of reflections on a vital book.

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about the author

John von Heyking
John von Heyking

I teach political philosophy at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, as well as religion and politics. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1999.

My publications include Augustine and Politics as Longing in the World (Missouri, 2001), Civil Religion in Political Thought:  Its Perennial Questions and Enduring Relevance in North America (coeditor; published by CUA Press, 2010), Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought (coeditor, published with U. of Notre Dame Press, 2008), two edited volumes of The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin (Missouri, 2003), as well as articles on Aristotle and friendship, political representation, citizenship, republicanism, just war, Islamic politics, politics and prophecy, leadership, the place of America in contemporary political thought, religious liberty under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the political philosophy of rodeo. I am also at work on a book-length study on the relationship between friendship and political order. My editorials have appeared in the Globe and Mail (Toronto), Calgary Herald, C2C: Canada’s Journal of Ideas, and the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs. I am currently Associate Editor for History, Theory, and Law of the journal, Politics and Religion, published by Cambridge University Press. His work has been translated into Italian, German, and Chinese. I have delivered invited lectures to audiences throughout Canada and the United States, as well as in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Russia.