Friday, October 25, 2019
The Liberal Arts and the End of Education Essay -- Philosophy Educatio
The Liberal Arts and the End of Education ABSTRACT: An international conference that takes Philosophy Educating Humanity as its theme does well to revisit the liberal arts tradition. Although the liberal arts are most often assimilated to studies brought together as the Humanities, the old usage included the arts which employed artificial languages in mathematics, music, and astronomy, as well as the literature and letters of the various natural languages. The current conflation of liberal education with the humanities does violence to the historical tradition in education, reducing it to fluff in the eyes of tough-minded scientists who know that only numbers deliver objectivity. The liberal arts of the traditional undergraduate curriculum provided the skills to liberate the student's linguistic powers so that he or she could read, speak, and understand natural language in all its functions. To educate human persons to master language is to encourage students to take possession of their natural powers so that they can expres s themselves, understand what others say, and reason together. The arts of natural language lead to mastery of the mathematical arts which use a language that is no one's mother tongue. Together, the seven arts rid students of the worst enemies of humankind: ignorance and prejudice. Since no one can be considered to have received a good education if he accepts uncritically the opinions of the educators of his own times, the student should encounter alternatives to these opinions. Samuel S. Kutler The past is always difficult to deal with. We are torn between the temptations of remaining within the comfort of a past we have become accustomed to and the equally dangerous alternative of fleeing an ... ...he arts of mathematical language teach us habits of rigorous, disinterested abstract thought. Post-moderns seem to be engaged in replacing philosophy, perhaps in the guise of logic, with rhetoric so that all becomes conversation or narrative, and privilege is problematic. Were we to resuscitate a version of the liberal arts tradition as pedagogy and a goal for our "post-modern" times, we would not be coaxing a dusty corpse of a bygone tradition back to life. Rather we would be putting our tradition into practice. The liberal arts live only in time, in some historical instantiation or another. Now may be the time to bring this curriculum back into our time. Rather than a person ill-equipped to do anything, the more traditionally educated liberal arts graduate could again be a person who is equipped by his skills to do anything. And, to evaluate what is worth doing.