In Anthony Kronman‘s Education’s End: Why Our Colleges and Universities Have Given Up on the Meaning of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), p. 35, he asks:
In what sense, and in what way, can the question of what living is for be made an appropriate and useful subject of academic instruction? today, in most of our colleges and universities, it is not, in fact, a subject of organized study, and one might infer from what I have said that this is because th question by its very nature precludes it — that it is too personal to be studied in this way. But the question of life’s meaning has not always been neglected as it now is. Once upon a time, and not all that long ago, many college and university teachers, especially in the humanities, believed they had a responsibility to lead their students in an organized examination of this question and felt confident in their authority to do so. They recognized that each student’s answer must be his or her own but believed that a disciplined survey of the answers the great writers and artists of the past have given to it can be a helpful aid to students in their own personal encounter with the question of what living is for–indeed, an indispensable aid, without which they must face the question not only alone but in disarray.
The consideration of life’s chief end and purpose has not only left the academy in its abandonment of an education in the classical disciplines, but it has also left the home in too many cases as well. Of course, the chief end and purpose of life can only be discerned in any definitive sense as we understand our place before the Creator, as the Westminster Catechism so famously stated. If “the answers the great writers and artists of the past” do indeed have something to contribute, as indeed they certainly do, perhaps we should begin here.