What Would Socrates Do?

Well, someone at the Wall Street Journal is a reader of this blog. An excellent friend who is kind enough to share his subscription to the WSJ – even if slightly wrinkled, brought my attention to this.

Having read this inspiring piece about Socrates which I posted on April 6 about the man whom I think we might as well refer to as “Saint Socrates,”

The WSJ published this inspiring little book review  by Naomi Schaefer Riley on April 17.

Now let no one accuse me of making the mistake in logic known as “post hoc ergo propter hoc.” This is certainly a clear case of necessary cause and effect!

Ms. Riley reviews a book called the Art of Freedom by Earl Shorris the basic point of which appears to me to be that

Liberal Education Works. Liberal education is the solution to poverty. Liberal education is the solution to crime. Liberal education prevents murder.

In short next to Christianity itself Liberal Education is the answer to man’s woes!

This may be going a little farther than what Earl Shorris thought or Riley- but even if one divides the thesis by 2, one still comes out with a ringing endorsement of liberal education in combating the effects of original sin and advancing mans happiness! I need to get a copy of this book because this is exactly the way that I have always felt about liberal education.

Ms. Schaeffer writes about the project that Earl Shorris started which is known as the “Clemente Course in the Humanities“,

 In the classes he taught, he addressed his students with “Mr.” or “Ms.” He believed that a proper form of address conveys dignity and avoids the kind of casual relationship that most universities want their students and professors to have.

Absolutely true!

According to Riley, Earl Shorris began

with a class of 25 or so students found through a social-service agency in New York, Shorris—along with a few professors he had recruited—taught literature, art history and philosophy. The first classes included readings in Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides and Sophocles.


Liberal education is the right kind of education for everyone. In a Democratic Republic such as the one in which we are privileged to live here in the United States, liberal education ought to be imposed on the young before they are allowed to specialize in some career path (by young I mean up until the age of 21 or thereabouts)

Listen to this (and as a minor correction – we ought to substitute the phrase liberal education wherever we see the word humanities),

One way that the humanities can help the poor in particular, according to Shorris, is by making them more “political.” But, he writes, “I don’t mean ‘political’ in the sense of voting in an election, but in the way Pericles used the word: to mean activity with other people at every level, from the family to the neighborhood to the broader community to the city-state.” The humanities, he tells his first class, “are a foundation for getting along in the world, for thinking, for learning to reflect on the world instead of just reacting to whatever force is turned against you.”


About marklangley

Presently, the founding Headmaster of Our Lady of Walsingham Academy in Colorado Springs (see www. OLWclassical.org), former headmaster and Academic Dean at The Lyceum (a school he founded in 2003, see theLyceum.org) Mark loves sacred music and Gregorian Chant and singing with his lovely wife, Stephanie, and their children.
This entry was posted in classical education, education, History, Liberal Arts, liberal education works, Socrates and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What Would Socrates Do?

  1. Pingback: Restoring Schools

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