The Forum | Western Civilization

In Memoriam: Walter Berns

January 12, 2015

This past weekend, America lost a giant.

Walter Berns, the great political theorist, constitutional scholar, and professor, passed away on Saturday. He was 95.

A student of Leo Strauss, Berns spent his career exploring what the greatest thinkers of the past—from Aristotle and Plato to Hobbes and Locke—had to say to our modern republic. He believed firmly that democracy’s success was dependent on the maintenance of an educated and virtuous citizenry. If America was to thrive, Berns always argued, it would need a healthy dose of character, virtue, and patriotism.

Perhaps that is why he was always such a dedicated friend and supporter of ACTA’s. He was with us in the trenches from ACTA’s earliest days, participating in our Shakespeare teach-in at Georgetown to defend the place of the Bard in university curricula. And when ACTA led the charge to preserve the University of Chicago’s legendary core curriculum, Walter Berns was by our side demanding that the university not drop its Western Civilization requirement.

The coming days will no doubt see many more tributes to this great scholar and patriot. The nation will remember him as a defender of the Western civilization, the American Republic, and the notion that true education is about studying the best that has been thought and said.

Here at ACTA, we will surely remember him as all that. But we will also remember him as a dear friend and fellow reformer.

May he rest in peace.


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