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262 Reasoning Together Lewis S. Feuer (University of Virginia) writes: Reasoning Together Douglas G. Webb, a former student of mine, has kindly sent me a copyof his review essay, "From Old Left to New Right" (CRevASIX/2). I amtroubled by his discussion of the career of my friend, Will Herberg, in the course of which he cites an indirect telephonic version of my views. Sincethe question involved is a serious one involving Will's truthfulness, we should be aspainstaking as possible before we render judgment; I wish that Mr.Webb had sought my opinions directly. Part of Webb's account of Herberg's personal history runs against published evidence. Webb writes: "Apparently when Herberg began to movein academic and scholarly circles in the forties, he felt a deep sense of infer· iority about his lack of advanced educational credentials, and tried to remedy this by inventing a more suitable past." On the contrary: long before Herberg had any academic aspirations, he was widely regarded in the labor movement as a man with a considerable academic background. In the preface, for instance, to Tailor's Progress, a history of the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (New York, 1944), the author, Benjamin Stolberg, writes in acknowledgement: "Will Herberg's research asistance. givenunstintingly outside his working hours, amounted to a real collaboration. By training a mathematician, by trade a student of labour and by avocation an eclectic savant, whose interests range from the Early Christian Fatherstothe history of tap dancing and from prehistoric rock paintings to the latest infantry tactics, Will's outlandish catholicity of learning provided the recreational touch so essential to the dismal task of fact-gathering.'' Benjamin Stolberg, himself a Harvard graduate and afrequent contributor to NewYork's liberal weeklies, probably reflects a general view of Herberg's background in the labor and left-wing intellectual circles, and he does record Herberg's "training" as a "mathematician." I do·not know what the truth of Will Herberg's academic history is.He did tell me in 1954that he had written a Ph.D. thesis under Richard McKean on three conceptions of time in philosophy (one of which was Augustine's). He added that he did not think much of his thesis, that McKean had said the Ph.D. degree was just a "union card," and that he had written it to fulfill a requirement; Will also said that he had a copy which he could show me. Will had alluded in 1953 to courses in physics he had takenat Columbia and to his evolution away from those interests. He said that the award of a Pulitzer Scholarship had made possible his undergraduate years at Columbia. During a lecture-visit to Drew University I was first informed that several colleagues were doubtful about Herberg's academic credentials. Willwas Reasoning Together 263 alreadythen in physical decline. Soon he was incapacitated. I wrote and spoketo old intellectual associates of his hoping th~t they would answer theallegations. Obstacles, however, ensued. The bitterness of long-past political conflicts still flared after more than forty years; one eminent writer saidthat the "Lovestoneites" were not trustworthy, while a distinguished close "Lovestoneite" co-worker felt that Will's religious direction had been fraudulent. Among Herberg's trade-union comrades, however, an affection remained.Charles S. (Sasha) Zimmerman, manager of Local 22 for which Will worked,and later a Vice-President of the International, spoke warmly ofWill'sdevotion to the union, his intellectual loneliness and sincerity. WhenI told him of the rumors about Will, he said: "A man like that shouldn't need a Ph.D." On the other hand, Mr. Zimmerman knew nothing tosubstantiate Will's account that he had forebome using the Ph.D. title asunsuitedto the trade-union setting. From my own experience in 1935-37 asadelegateto the Boston Central Labor Union, and from the annals in the I.L.G.W.U. concerning such a scholar as the famed Dr. Isaac Hourwich, Will'sexplanation had seemed reasonable enough. But no corroborating evidencecould be found. One Italian union leader recalled movingly how Will hadhelped them compose the letter to President Roosevelt that secured theexemption of the Italian workers from the regulations against aliens thatwereimposed at...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 262-268
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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