If history, philosophy and so on vanish from academic life, what they leave in their wake may be a technical training facility or corporate research institute. But it will not be a university in the classical sense of the term, and it would be deceptive to call it one.
One of those disturbing tendencies in academic life is that there is a desire on the part of many in the name of open-mindedness to fall into a kind of relativistic denialism in which all positions are equally legitimate, all positions must be respected, and compromise must be entered into no matter what the starting point or reasonableness of the two parties.
I'm not sure that I've ever been drawn to the academic life as such. Theology has been a matter of survival for me. If I have a carapace of academic presentability, it is thanks to the wonderful teachers I had.
My first MFA was in poetry, and it was very much part of a professional trajectory leading to life as a professor. But in my second and third years at Harvard, I realized I didn't want an academic life.
In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual's responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician's responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm. Michael Ignatieff, a former professor at Harvard and contributing writer for the magazine, is a member of Canada's Parliament and deputy leader of the Liberal Party.