Thursday, August 07, 2014

"...with only a bare bones understanding of what it means to be alive..." PART TWO

Here's the first third or so of the huge discussion which broke out on facebook after my post on the liberal arts:

Toni Doesn't have to be that way. One can learn a trade and still be an intellectual

Joshua For shame, Ron! Someone who welds isn't as human as someone who cold calls? Though I do agree with your general sentiment.

Ron Agreed, Toni. I wait tables, myself. But the point is how so many Americans just TRASH the liberal arts. They have no idea how stupid they're being.

Josh, someone who hasn't studied the liberal arts necessarily has less of an understanding of the human condition than one who has.  This isn't about class. This is about American anti-intellectualism.

Joshua Ron, again, I agree with your general sentiment, but how could you possibility believe that? A College Education is a fine thing, and CAN expand your horizons, but think about some of the great writers and thinkers who never had one.

Ron Right. They would have had better lives and been better writers if they had studied the liberal arts. And, actually, they probably did, albeit on their own. Lincoln read by candle light.

Joshua Well, that's the thing. If you respect home study than I 100% agree with you.

Ron As an abstract principle, home study can be far superior to primary and secondary education. Of course, it greatly depends on the parents doing the home schooling, and a lot of them are anti-intellectual fundamentalists. Theory versus practice.

Joshua Yes, I didn't mean home schooling in the modern sense, which is just as much guided by socialization and politics as the most insufferable faculty lounge, but something that a guy like Lincoln would have done. He learned military strategy, medicine, all sorts of science, land development, etc etc, while in the office of the presidency.

Ron It's that spirit that a very strong current of American culture runs against, the thirst for knowledge and understanding. It's all good and well to understand pragmatic things. Indeed, we absolutely NEED that. But life cannot stop there, satisfied enough with itself to sit on its laurels.

As the character John Keating says in Dead Poets Society:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

It agonizes me that this is not understood as a truism by the American people.

Toni Ahem...*in your opinion*, they would have had better lives

Ron I have to leave soon to attend my Shakespeare class. But I'm willing to argue that it's a FACT, until I'm blue in the face, that a rich study of the liberal arts makes for a better life, in all instances.

Also, You're the full package, Toni.

Toni Blue collar intellectualism is where it's at.

Ron That's actually kind of a dream I have for the country.
Parts three and four coming on Sunday and Monday.