It’s tempting to start here with grandiloquence about the start of a new year, clichés, freshmen are part of the family now or this year will be the best year ever. It is even more tempting, of course, to ironically distance myself from saying anything genuine here out of need to be original, or safe. Truth and genuine writing should come before our fear of being uncool or insufficiently aloof. Returning students, I think it’s grand to see you all again, and to have at least one more year with the senior class. Let’s all make this a good year. Freshmen, welcome, from the bottom of my heart. This is The Hillsdale Forum.
The Forum is a full-color opinion journal published several times per year at Hillsdale College. We print interviews, essays, book reviews, and regular columns. As the mission statement says, “The Forum … exists to foster a campus environment open to true liberal education and human flourishing”. We want to be the link between the classroom and the community, and carry the conversations from the lecture or office hours into our (admittedly small) public square. You will all soon learn, from President Larry Arnn if not from Aristotle himself, that we are all “political animals”—participating in our community is an essential part of our humanity. As important as lectures, notes, and papers are in the rise to “self government” the Honor Code enjoins us to, this ongoing dialogue is even more so. It can be Hegel or Dante over lunch, late night dorm arguments (you might be the class to finally figure out predestination, who knows?), or it can be in the Gadfly Group, the Fairfield Society, The Forum, or the Collegian.
There are many outlets, but as Aristotle says in the Nicomachean Ethics—you did do the summer reading, right?—they all point to the same end, the good that is our education and human flourishing. If you’re interested, consider contributing your time or submitting your work. We plan to print five issues this year, and you’re holding the first. Read through, and as you study, think about the implications your schoolwork has for your friends, or the school, or the nation. In this issue, we’ve featured two essays from the graduated senior class, a new tradition that I hope to expand and continue. Also featured here, junior Timothy Troutner asks why the skills we learn to trust in class can’t guide our study of scripture, and Reuss reviews Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by campus favorite Anthony Esolen; much more edification awaits inside.
All these articles in some way aim at the purpose of our education and our community. We are here to learn, grow, to attain a liberal education. Though you might doubt it during finals week, humans all by nature love to know, as R.J. Snell points out in The Perspective of Love:
When the animal has its physiological needs met, it sleeps, but when the human has met its needs, we do math or theology or go exploring, for our intelligence is essentially dynamic love; so long as we want to know, so long as we care and direct our intelligence towards knowing, our consciousness continues to operate in a cumulative, self-correcting, and indefinite process of accumulating data and acquiring new insights.
The community of Hillsdale is an essential part of the education of Hillsdale and the mission of Hillsdale, and that is why we print The Forum—because while you may have arrived to be “educated for liberty” or “rise to self government”, you can only do so in a genuinely human way by being open to those around you, both students and professors—open to their ideas and open to change, and to change often.
Editor-in-Chief Chris McCaffery is a junior studying history. He is a member of the Dow Journalism Program.