1 This sentence and the one that follows it are paraphrases from ‘‘Alexander Meiklejohn
Defines the Liberal College, 1912’’ (Hofstadter and Smith 1961: 899).
2 In regard to the second point: the case studies of this book should be read as ideal-types.
That is to say, for less well-tutored audiences similar lessons would have to be taught by
case studies conducted at lower levels of analysis and with less intricate details.
∞. The Purposes of an Interpretive Community
1 Vacco v. Quill, 521 U.S. 793 (1997) and Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997) are
companion equal protection and due process cases that challenged, respectively, a New
York State ban on physician-assisted suicide and a Washington law prohibiting making it
a felony to promote a suicide attempt. Their point was that to focus on equal protection
interests in the right to assisted suicide as well as the right to refuse life-sustaining
medical treatment, or due process interests in ‘‘autonomy’’ versus state interests in ‘‘af-
firming the value of life,’’ served only to perpetuate the tendency in this culture to obfus-
cate and repress fundamental questions that need to be asked about death and dying.
2 The term ‘‘commentary’’ is used in its everyday sense, and that su≈ces for my purposes.
For other, related, purposes it would be important to address the history of commentary
as an institutional practice.
3 The terms ‘‘commentators’’ and ‘‘teachers and critics’’ are used interchangeably in this
book to refer to academics and journalists (unless specified otherwise).
4 For Pierre Bourdieu, social enterprises and practices are constituted by critical (ideologi-
cal) norms. These are the norms that establish the customary way in which persons
understand themselves to be engaged in enterprises and practices. Such norms are su≈-
ciently fixed in the minds of persons so engaged that they find it very di≈cult to under-
stand their enterprise or practice, and themselves, in any way other than is shaped by
those norms. Thus self-image and reality mutually reinforce each other, and ideas and
events that contradict an ideological self-image tend to be rejected as basically inconceiv-
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