Learning for Meaning's Sake

Toward the Hermeneutic University


Universities, and the societies they serve, suffer from a crisis of meaning: We have fanatically developed our ability to produce knowledge, leaving our ability to craft meaning by the wayside. University graduates often have an abundance of knowledge but lack the wisdom to use it meaningfully. Meanwhile, people inside and outside academia are searching for meaning but are imprisoned in a lexicon of clichés and sound bites that stunts their quest.
In response, Learning for Meaning’s Sake begins with the assertion that higher education in the 21st century should renounce its obsession with job training and knowledge production and should, instead, turn toward questions of meaning. Drawing upon a diverse range of philosophical thought, Learning for Meaning’s Sake offers the vision and philosophical foundation for a new type of higher learning-one that is devoted to the existential questions at the core of human existence.

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"Drawing from the work of a wide range of philosophers in a remarkably accessible way, Stephanie Mackler lays sophisticated conceptual groundwork to show how college educators can help young people come to understand themselves as "meaning-makers. " Good meaning-makers have the interpretive skills and the confidence to approach difficult texts and challenging events in such a way that they are neither passive recipients of received wisdom nor arrogantly attempting to reinvent the wheel. Learning for Meaning’s Sake explains how these capacities and this orientation to the world can be cultivated in the college classroom. As the book makes clear, thinking is one part of this process, but good meaning makers also have the courage to add their voices to the sorts of cultural conversations that condition our understandings of the world. In this way, good meaning-makers are not simply interpreting the world; they are helping to shape it. This is an engaging and original book, recommended for those of us who teach at the university level and those who are interested in revitalizing the liberal arts in the hopes of making higher education more meaningful. "
-DR. NATASHA LEVINSON, Associate Professor of Educational Foundations and Special Services, Kent State University
"Stephanie Mackler’s is a fresh voice in the ancient conversation of those who reflect on the character of liberal learning and liberal arts education. . . [She] wants 'to philosophize in the truest sense of the word'. . . and speaks of rearticulating the purposes of institutions of higher learning. . . "
-TIMOTHY FULLER, Lloyd E. Worner Distinguished Service Professor & Professor of Political Science, Colorado College
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