Sphere am I, but with a tip,
I seek the ground or seek your lip,
I have no arms, legs have I none,
I never walk but sometimes run.
A couple points worth passing on. He suggests that (a) belief in knowledge, (b) self-discipline and (c) a classic library together form a mutually reinforcing unit, in part by indicating the shortcomings of each in isolation. Belief in knowledge without discipline or proper guides won't amount to anything. Moreover, self-discipline by itself, as an end in itself, was an error of the Stoics (others being, I would venture to add, a disembodied ideal of ethics and a Heracleitean notion of eternal recurrence).
And finally, citing Strauss's "What is Liberal Education?", he notes the paradox of the classics: the "Great Books" approach to education frequently amounts to a relativism. For if great minds conflicted, "who am I to dispute them?":
The whole point of this present essay, while in no way doubting Strauss's point about the great minds contradicting each other, is to suggest that this controversy among the great minds can lead to a false sort of humility, something that misunderstands what the mind is about. In the modern world, Chesterton said, humility is misplaced; it is thought to be located in the intellect where it does not belong, whereas it is a virtue of the will, an awareness of our own tendencies to pride. We should not doubt our minds but our motives. The condition of not knowing should not lead us to a further skepticism but to a more intense search for truth. We should see in what sense a great mind might reveal something of the truth even in its error.
The very existence of the great books enables us to escape from any tyranny of the present, from the idea that we only want to study what is currently "relevant" or immediately useful.
Now to be fair, Schall is if anything neck deep it current events, as his never ending stream of editorials attests. But I must follow through this thought to the end. In its best expressions, conservativism sees us as involved in a dialogue with the dead and those not yet born. To exclude present and future from the great dialogue: this is head-in-the-sand antiquarianism, and we who love the deep past must be on our guard against it. A little antiquarian sentiment, on the other hand, like a row of well-preserved brownstones, is a beautiful thing.