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Wendell Berry and Higher EducationCultivating Virtues of Place$
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Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169026

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169026.001.0001

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Standing by Our Words

Standing by Our Words

Learning a Responsible Language

Chapter:
(p.47) 2 Standing by Our Words
Source:
Wendell Berry and Higher Education
Author(s):

Jack R. Baker

Jeffrey Bilbro

Wendell Berry

Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
DOI:10.5810/kentucky/9780813169026.003.0003

The kind of language Andy learns from his Port William community stands in contrast to the irresponsible language often spoken in the academy. Such language fails to be responsible to its objects because it either focuses primarily on the speaker’s internal feelings or thoughts or takes on a falsely objective tone and focuses only on the object itself. Thus it fails to relate inner and outer, speaker and object, in a way that enables them to respond to each other. By making this accountability more difficult, the language typically spoken in universities corrodes community rather than contributing to healthy, affectionate places. A responsible language that encourages individuals to have healthy relationships with their places can be maintained only by a love for particular places and objects, a love that motivates speakers to use careful, accurate language. Universities often fail to teach such language, allowing different disciplines to hide in their own jargon rather than fostering a common, community-wide language that encourages individuals to be more broadly accountable. Recovering the trivium and learning from literature may cultivate a more accountable language.

Keywords:   Remembering, language, responsibility, trivium, literature, liberal arts

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