St. John Henry Newman on Liberal Education: A Scandal

Saint John Henry Newman, speaking of the unique status of Western Civilization in the history of the world, emphatically asserts,

I think it has a claim to be considered as the representative Society and Civilization of the human race, as its perfect result and limit…I call then this commonwealth preeminently and emphatically Human Society, and its intellect the Human mind, and its decisions the sense of mankind, and its disciplined and cultivated state Civilization in the abstract, and the territory on which it lies the Orbis Terrarum, or the World.

Now if it wasn’t for the fact that this Cardinal was just canonized, I think we could all brush this statement off  as an overly zealous defense of Western Civilization. After all, sometimes people get carried away and say things that they don’t really mean. For example I will often say things like,

I think 100% arabica coffee beans may be considered as the representative coffee bean of civilization and of the human race. Nay even the preeminent coffee bean and even the bean in virtue of which all other beans merit the name “coffee bean.”

To the extent that other beans measure up or fall away from the arabica bean, that is the exact measure in which each bean may be called a coffee bean.

Or perhaps about the music of Mozart,

I think it has a claim to be considered as the representative music of the human race, as its perfect result and limit…I call then this music preeminently and emphatically Human Music, and the mind of Mozart is par-excellence the musical mind!

Mozart’s music is the music of mankind and in the abstract, his music and the territory in which it is heard is the Orbis Terrarum, or the World.

Ha! That is a wonderful statement. Nay even more…that is a manly statement!

 

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I love the bravado. And what’s more I completely agree with it.

As a matter of fact- with apologies to Newman, I think I will lay claim to this statement as being perhaps the very clearest statement ever made about the worth and value of Mozart’s musical contributions.

Did you ever hear him praised more highly?

I think not!

In the future I plan on making a similar statement about Shakespeare so prepare yourselves.

But in the meantime let me return to the Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman and his statement about Western Civilization.

Can there be a clearer or more forceful statement about the value of Western Civilization that flies more in the face of the current attitude of cultural relativism?

No. Again, I think not!

My old teacher Dr. Jack Neumayr, a philosopher and professor at Thomas Aquinas College, commenting on Newman’s statement writes:

Some who regard all culture as empirical, as we have seen, will defend liberal education because it is good to know our origins; not that our culture is normative, but it is ours. Others will insist on the utility of knowing the roots of the good and evil in our society. Still others, thinking it well to know the works of man, urge us to scan the achievements of western thought. None, however, under the pressures of egalitarianism and skepticism, dares assert it is the measure of the human mind.

Indeed, few in our day see the value of liberal education so clearly. This education, which arises from western society, is none other than the education which is the measure of the human mind. It is the education that fulfills the nature of man; it is the education that disposes man for the life of grace.

Liberal education is a scandal to the modern world. Liberal education is a scandal because it presents itself in direct opposition to the prevalent educational philosophy of our day; it is a stumbling block to the aspirations and goals of modern education. Those goals include no more than what is thought necessary to equip the student with the particular knowledge that will further a specific career.

Liberal education …a boulder in the road of establishment educational philosophy! (Admittedly, that boulder is a little more than a “scandal”)

Thus liberal education is a scandal to modern ears for at least two reasons. It is a scandal to those who are themselves ‘proponents of liberal education’ for the wrong reasons; reasons that amount to no more than a sort of cultural relativism and ultimately deny that liberal education is the education for the human mind.

It is also a scandal to those who propose the purpose of education is to equip man for this world; for some career.

As Cardinal Newman writes elsewhere,

“This process of training, by which the intellect, instead of being formed or sacrificed to some particular or accidental purpose, some specific trade or profession, or study or science, is disciplined for its own sake, for the perception of its own proper object, and for its own highest culture, is called Liberal Education…”

Posted in liberal education, Newman | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

A Case for Bribery

How appalling! I am absolutely shocked! Simply dumbfounded! How could anyone do something so wicked?

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I mean, can you imagine bribing an admission officer at a prestigious college or university? Who would ever dream of such a thing?

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How could such a thing happen when the motto of Harvard University is Veritas…and when the motto of Yale University is Lux et Veritas … and when the motto of Duke University is  Eruditio et Religio … and when the motto of the University of Pennsylvania  is Leges Sine moribus Vanae …and that of Princeton University is Dei Sub Numine Viget …and that of Brown is In Deo Speramus …and that of Columbia is In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen …and that of Dartmouth is Vox Clamantis in Deserto… 

It’s almost as if no one can read these mottoes anymore!

Oh, wait a second, I forgot! We can’t read these mottoes anymore because, after all, who really cares about studying a dead language?

Where does studying a dead language get us? It certainly will not get us into the universities of which these are the mottoes because all of them have long since dropped proficiency in Latin as an entrance requirement!

Well, one might at least think that basic standards of objective morality and truth would still be assumed among the applicants to colleges and universities that were all founded on these standards…wouldn’t one?

Of course I am being facetious. We all know that although these colleges and universities were founded on lofty visions of objective truth and morality, somewhere the doctrine of pragmatism and utility supplanted the original vision.

Schools, colleges and universities were all founded on the assertion of Socrates when he said,

The unexamined life is not worth living.

He was providing us with a hint for why we should even send our children to school.

Education used to be about confronting the central questions of human life:

  • Who am I?
  • What is life?
  • What is man?
  • What is the cosmos?
  • What is happiness?
  • What is God?

These were the questions that served as the heart and soul of the educational project.

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The bedrock assumption upon which every college and university was founded was the assertion that there is such a thing as truth and we, as human beings, should strive with everything we have to know the truth!

Everybody agrees with that, right?

Not any more.

The truth is that education is now something that we all encourage our children to do in order to get ahead in life. Isn’t that right? 

When we exchanged the core liberal arts curriculum for the elective system were we not admitting that each should pursue what he or she found most useful?

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We say to our children,

It’s difficult to get a good lucrative career without a college degree.

It’s not so much a question of whether a student knows how to read Sacred Scripture in Greek or Latin, it’s not a question of whether this or that young man or woman has read Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth or Aristotle’s De Anima or Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Everyone appears to agree that although these are all fine and noble pursuits, they are nonetheless quite useless when it comes to getting ahead in life.

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It’s not about whether a young man or young lady has ever studied the Astronomy of Ptolemy or read Harvey’s work on the circulation of blood. Or whether a student has observed the insect world alongside of Jean Henri Fabre.

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What good, after all, is reading Aeschylus’ work Agammemnon? What good is reading Herodotus or Thucydides? Why read St. Thomas’ exposition on the Ten Commandments or the Seven Sacraments?

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Education is now about getting ahead in the world. It is not about coming to the truth. It is not about obtaining moral or intellectual virtue. According to all of these standard- setting institutions, there really is no such thing as truth. There really is no such thing as objective morality.

If goodness is simply a matter of what is expedient, why, then, is bribery for admission to a prestigious university not a legitimate option?

If the truth means anything these days it is this – that truth is determined by “what works.” Truth is what works. Good behavior is what is expedient.

Bribery works.

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Bribing this or that admissions officer or this or that athletic coach or paying someone to take the SAT or the ACT or the GRE or the LSAT (or the MCAT …is it even possible?) appears to have worked wonderfully for some.

Does the current educational establishment really have any intellectual platform upon which to object? Do the ivy league colleges and universities have an objective moral code from which they offer objections to cheating? What could they possibly say? Something like,

Well, as we all know, cheating on the SAT is an act of dishonesty, and any sort of dishonesty is against the Natural Law which…..oh, yeah…… is an obsolete invention of those superstitious philosophers who lived in the dark ages.

How can the modern educational establishment object to bribing a coach in order to gain preferential admissions treatment? To what objective standard of truth or goodness would they appeal?

What is there to say? I suppose Saint Paul might respond,

Be not deceived, God is not mocked.[8] For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. [9] And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.

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Posted in aeschylus, catholic education, classical education, college, Socrates, truth for its own sake | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“’Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall.”: Why we are Tempted

Saint Luke begins the story about Our Lord’s temptation in the desert saying,

[1] And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the desert, [2] For the space of forty days; and was tempted by the devil.

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How striking it is that Our Lord was “led” into the desert where he would be “baptized by the fire of temptation” as one exegete puts it.  Moreover he was led by the Spirit!

But you might ask,

What spirit led him to be tempted?

Saint Gregory clears up any doubt about what spirit it was that led Him saying,

Some doubt what Spirit it was that led Jesus into the desert, for that it is said after, “The Devil took him into the holy city.” But true and without question agreeable to the context is the received opinion, that it was the Holy Spirit; that His own Spirit should lead Him thither where the evil spirit should find Him and try Him.

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In other words it was not the devil that led Jesus into the desert to be tempted.

It is easy to imagine that an evil spirit, the devil, would lead us to be tempted, but seems a little strange to say this of the Holy Spirit! But it seems clear that it was indeed the Holy Spirit that was leading Our Lord into the wilderness. And it also seems clear that among the reasons for this excursion was precisely that Our Lord be confronted with these “temptations.”

Now why on earth would the Holy Spirit do this? And does this have any bearing on us? Does Our Lord set us an example even here?

Of course he does!

St. John Chrysostom gives five marvelous reasons why temptation is good for us!

Whoever thou art then that after thy baptism sufferest grievous trials, be not troubled thereat; for this thou receivedst arms, to fight, not to sit idle. God does not hold all trial from us;

  • first, that we may feel that we are become stronger;

  • secondly, that we may not be puffed up by the greatness of the gifts we have received;

  • thirdly, that the Devil may have experience that we have entirely renounced him;

  • fourthly, that by it we may be made stronger;

  • fifthly, that we may receive a sign of the treasure entrusted to us; for the Devil would not come upon us to tempt us, did he not see us advanced to greater honours.

Now, after reading this, who would not want to be tempted?

We are tempted so that we may feel the strength that we have obtained through God’s grace. We are tempted to remind us that we must continually rely on God’s grace and not on our own strength. When we overcome temptation (hopefully) God makes the devil know who is in charge. When we are tempted, and never beyond our strength, God provides us with an opportunity to exercise the strength that we have gained and thus become stronger. And finally, when we are tempted, we are reminded that the Devil still thinks that we are targets.

In other words, temptation is a sign to us that we are still in the fight! I find that consoling!

What St Gregory says makes sense especially when we remind ourselves of the root meaning of temptation. The word comes from the Latin, ‘tentatio, tentationis 3rd declension (f)’ as our second year Latin students would know. It means a “trial.”

A tentatio is the sort of thing that athletes prepare for. It is the contest. It is the race or marathon that explains why so many runners spend a frightful number of hours in training. The professional runner does not say, “Do not let me run the marathon!”

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A tentatio is the big recital or performance on stage for which musicians practice. The rising virtuoso does not say, “Do not ever let me play in the National Piano Competition!”

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A tentatio is the end of semester exam which serves as a culmination of studies for students everywhere. Even students do not say, “Please let me never take the final exam!” Well, actually, I guess I have heard this from one or two students. We will put this down to their youth. Thankfully, students have no choice in the matter.

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Now when we look at it this way, “temptation” seems like a positive thing doesn’t it?

Why then does Our Lord teach us to say “Lead us not into temptation?”

Well, now we must be emphatically clear that there is a radical difference between the words “Lead us not into temptation” and “Do not let us be tempted.”

On the one hand, it now appears from Our Lord’s example to us that temptation is something that we all need to confront and even must willingly face, having been led by the Holy Spirit.

On the other hand, we say, “Lead us not into temptation.”

St. Thomas Aquinas‘ tells us what these words (which are an excellent translation from the Greek) mean, when he says,

“And lead us not into temptation,” whereby we do not ask not to be tempted, but not to be conquered by temptation…

How can we interpret this otherwise if we are to imitate Our Lord in every thing?

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Maybe it’s not such a good idea to search out temptations. But, rather, we might count it a sign of God’s continued blessings when he allows us to be tempted. And I suppose, we might have a significant reason to worry should we find ourselves no longer confronted by temptations.

Temptations are a sign that we’re still standing!

Posted in Aquinas, Catena Aurea, Lord's Prayer, Temptation | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

To Hell with The Socratic Method!

Today I mean simply to get straight to the point. There will be no interruptions and I won’t even be taking questions! I find that this is the only way to really get things done.

Sometimes we like to defend the excellence of the Socratic method and the effectiveness of the seminar or discussion method in learning. But let’s face it. These methods are not really that effective when the object is merely to get things done. There is simply no greater obstacle to progressing through a text or a curriculum plan than allowing students to ask questions or examine one’s argument premise by premise.

Well I suppose a tornado or an earthquake might cause significant interruptions, but these things are not half so threatening to a teacher’s sense of “getting things done” as eight or nine students who feel free to speak their minds when they please.

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After rebuilding the school, I bet I could still get through more text, turn more pages and “cover more material” if we just jettisoned the discussion method!

Sure, maybe the discussion method is an effective way for a student to become actively engaged in his own education. Maybe allowing a student to speak and ask questions and make comments (relevant or even irrelevant) is an effective way to provoke his enthusiasm for knowledge. I will even go so far as to grant that the discussion method might even arouse deeper understanding and even real learning.

Nonetheless, I still maintain that it is a very poor method for getting things done.

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And the terrible irony is this: After allowing students to speak freely and engage in discussion and intelligent “back and forth” and “two-way learning” (to use Adler’s expression) and Socratic-like debate…after provoking authentic interest in their minds for a subject by long examinations of even minor points and perhaps even trivial matters …after all this, I say, students will be the first to point out at the end of the Fall semester,

“Hey… isn’t this a class on the Sacraments?… Well how are we supposed to get through all seven if we are still only half way through Baptism?

Isn’t this just the way of it?

I almost blush to think how fast a student will “turn his back” on his poor teacher in pointing out the lack of progress-through-the-text simply because the teacher was suckered into the idea of provoking real learning!

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And is the student ashamed to draw attention to this “lack of progress” to his parents?

No! How many students have carefully pointed out to their parents,

Mom…Dad…the reason why our American History Class never made it past the North’s violent attempt to resupply Fort Sumter in 1861, was that we were really trying to understand step by step, from a careful reading of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and all relevant primary source material…of course all the time with spirited but amicable debate and discussion….how the North could so brazenly betray the very principles of their own independence.”

No! Instead, who gets crucified for what appears to be sheer incompetence in “making progress”? You guessed it.

The poor teacher.

Not that I am complaining or anything. I am simply pointing out the fact that allowing students the intellectual liberty to speak at all is inimical to covering material!

I have known some teachers who disagree. They say things like,

“Well, one can have it both ways. In discussions, the teacher must be very vigilant in only allowing relevant points to advance. There must be a firm discipline in directing students to speak to the point succinctly etc…etc…”

Obviously this teacher knows nothing about real classroom discussions. “Relevant points”…”Succinct”… Ha!

Or sometimes teachers will say,

“I spend the first 35 minutes lecturing on important material that I want to cover and then I allow 5 minutes for a lively and spirited debate.”

Well that is just shameless. As if a discussion could happen in five minutes! In my experience it takes at least 30 minutes to simply make a question arise. To even make an issue seem “discussable”… worth discussing…interesting…arguable…this takes loads and loads of time.  The mind of the student, you must remember, is sort of like the mind of a bear in hibernation.

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And it certainly takes more than five minutes to provoke such a mind to vibrant discussion!

But it is much easier to make progress when one is simply writing things down in a blog post such as this. The fact of the matter is that one gets to control the flow of the “discussion” more closely. As a result the flow of ideas, the thread of thought is easier to follow than in a real-time discussion, and, frankly, the ability to use images to advance a point can be a very powerful aid…like that bear for instance…isn’t he just like what you might imagine the mind of a student might look like, say, in the morning during those first period classes?

Any questions? Anything you would like to discuss? Sorry, it looks like we are out of time. The lecture is over!

Posted in discussion, education, Socrates | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why We Read Herodotus

Xerxes at the Hellespont

Reading Herodotus with students in the ninth and tenth grade presents some challenges. I always tell them not to worry if they don’t feel like they are understanding it on the first read. That is the way Great Books are.

If a book is entirely intelligible the very first time it is read, that is probably a sign that it is a mediocre book- probably a text book- and therefore, not worth reading a second time.

After hearing passages from the Bible, how many of us feel like we have anything but a superficial understanding? We continually go back to it for more. It is a source from which our souls discover sustained nourishment. And so it is with the Great Books. So it is with Herodotus’ great work The Histories. St. John Henry Newman made this very point when he said that the canon of Western Literature has something of the character of Holy Scripture in this regard.

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Don’t get me wrong here- I do not want to elevate Herodotus to the level of God’s own word, but I simply mean to say that The Histories is great because it has something in it that transcends ordinary human insight. One could almost say that Herodotus wrote what he did with the inspiration of God, or at least under the influence of some minor deity or another.

That is precisely why Herodotus should be read again and again.

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Xerxes Decorating the Plane Tree

Obviously Herodotus is important to read for those who strive after a classical education. I don’t think anyone would maintain that it is possible to be educated without knowing who the Delphic Oracle was or who Croesus was or Cyrus or Miltiades or Themistocles or Darius or Cambyses or Xerxes or….

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Leonidas at Thermopylae

Clearly anyone who is interested in politics and the origin of our own democratic institutions would forever be frustrated if he did not read about the origins of democracy in Athens and by contrast the more kingly rule in Sparta- although a rule according to law.

Anyone who is interested in ethics, law, morality and the effect of custom on human behavior would be handicapped without a familiarity with Herodotus’ colorful descriptions of the various peoples and nations that he covers with encyclopedic breadth. Of course I mention this with a caveat that those who misread Herodotus might use these stories as material to advance a moral relativism, given the diversity of accepted customs among various northern tribes (like the Scythians), some quite appalling! But one cannot read Herodotus without seeing clearly the improving influence that civilization has on behavior.

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Cyrus the Great

Recently, I read with pleasure a marvelous article in The New Yorker (April 2008) by  “What was Herodotus Trying to Tell Us?” Although many complain that Herodotus while being the acknowledged “Father of History” might also be called the “father of the digression,” Mendelsohn puts his finger on this very aspect of Herodotus’ work that has charmed readers for millenia!

What gives this tale its unforgettable tone and character—what makes the narrative even more leisurely than the subject warrants—are those infamous, looping digressions: the endless asides, ranging in length from one line to an entire book (Egypt), about the flora and fauna, the lands and the customs and cultures, of the various peoples the Persian state tried to absorb. And within these digressions there are further digressions, an infinite regress of fascinating tidbits whose apparent value for “history” may be negligible but whose power to fascinate and charm is as strong today as it so clearly was for the author, whose narrative modus operandi often seems suspiciously like free association. Hence a discussion of Darius’ tax-gathering procedures in Book 3 leads to an attempt to calculate the value of Persia’s annual tribute, which leads to a discussion of how gold is melted into usable ingots, which leads to an inquiry into where the gold comes from (India), which, in turn (after a brief detour into a discussion of what Herodotus insists is the Indian practice of cannibalism), leads to the revelation of where the Indians gather their gold dust. Which is to say, from piles of sand rich in gold dust, created by a species of—what else?—“huge ants, smaller than dogs but larger than foxes.”

Herodotus, in contrast to many so-called ‘historians’, makes it clear that individuals have a profound effect on history. In consequence, it becomes apparent to his readers that human character, virtue and vice, are of the utmost significance in determining historical causes. This is especially refreshing in our day when students are fed historical accounts that seem to attribute causation to far more impersonal causes such as the purely economic or geographical or social movements or “systemic or environmental  causes.”

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Xerxes!

Of course Herodotus also gives us a refreshing account of not just human causality, but also a great deal of attention to divine causality as especially manifest through the attention that he gives to the oracles.

The reader might be slightly skeptical about the verity of the often ambiguous Delphic utterances, but say what you will, Herodotus makes a clear case for the significance of divine causation in History.

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Delphic Oracle

In our day it is customary to belittle men greater than ourselves.

My version of Herodotus (“The Landmark Herodotus” edited by Robert B. Strassler) comes with a full plate of footnotes, the authors of which are careful to kibitz and point out minor inaccuracies and discrepancies within the text.  The effect that these notes have in my view is to finally render Herodotus rather innocuous to the student and relegate him to the status of a harmless but unscientific yet charming author- certainly not a historian!

Nonetheless, as I point out to my students, such clever foot-note writers would have absolutely no standing whatever were it not for the big man- Herodotus.

Posted in classical education, Herodotus, History, Newman | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Did You Know That Your Soul Has Twenty Six Powers?

Though I never saw it with my own eyes, it is said that the two words “Know thyself” were inscribed over the entrance to the Temple at Delphi.

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

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That the seven wise men of Greece chose to have these words inscribed in such a prominent location should be a hint to all of us that they deserve our attention. (I have tried to argue that here.) If we do not know ourselves then we run the risk of turning traitor! In act IV scene 2 of Shakespeare’s MacbethRoss explains to Lady Macduff,

…I dare not speak much further; But cruel are the times when we are traitors And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor from what we fear, yet know not what we fear, But float upon a wild and violent sea, each way and none…

And if we are traitors to ourselves then we certainly have not followed Pollonius’ advice to Laertes when he says,

This above all- to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

And so now that we have a new year in front of us (well … 11 months left) what better time for us to make a new attempt to know ourselves.

To that end, what could be a better way to begin knowing ourselves then by a quick breakdown and examination of our souls? After all, I think Aristotle says somewhere that man is composed of body and soul….but adds that we are more our souls than our bodies. (N.B. We are not only our souls like Plato might have said, but our souls are more what we are than our bodies).

Okay? Does this make sense? I mean, if it really is the case that each of us is more our souls than our bodies, then perhaps a little knowledge about our souls will be important in helping us to know ourselves.

Now I suppose it goes without saying that there are seemingly quite a few people who do not even realize that they have a soul…. or perhaps even go so far as to deny that they have a soul!

Most people probably acknowledge the existence of their souls, but I have a feeling that the conception of the soul is probably quite vague…a little cloudy.

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Well, it’s high time to blow away the smoke! It’s time to clarify our notions about the souls that we all possess! What better way to do this than through a nice breakdown of the soul and an exhaustive list of its capabilities?

There is simply no time to argue or explain each of the soul’s powers in detail. Such an undertaking would be too lengthy and difficult for our needs here. We simply want to see the soul in broad outline. So let’s proceed!

The Soul

First we need to remind ourselves that among living things there are three types of soul, to wit:

  1. Vegetative soul– the kind of souls found among plants
  2. Sensitive soul– the kind of soul in animals
  3. Rational soul– the soul that distinguishes man from plants and animals

Well it turns out that each kind of soul includes powers or abilities that distinguish it from the others. More importantly, we note that the sensitive soul includes all the powers of the vegetative soul in addition its own distinctive powers, and similarly the sensitive soul includes all the powers of the sensitive soul in addition to its own unique powers. In other words, the three kinds of soul are arranged like the numbers One, Two and Three (although One is not a number!). A Two includes everything that a One is in itself (and one more besides!) while a Three includes everything a Two is (and one more besides).

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Now if the vegetative soul has powers that are included in the sensitive soul, and the rational soul has powers that are included in the sensitive soul, then it follows that the rational soul will have all the powers that a soul can have! In other words, the rational soul will not only have its own powers but will also possess the powers of the other kinds of soul as well!

What powers does the vegetative soul include? Well anyone of us with a potted plant in his kitchen knows quite well what powers the plant has. Every plant has exactly three powers.

Powers of the Vegetative Soul

  1. Nutrition
  2. Growth
  3. Reproduction

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Now how about the sensitive soul? What are the powers of the soul that are in animals?

Powers of the Sensitive Soul

  1. Nutrition
  2. Growth
  3. Reproduction
  4. Sensitive Powers
  5. Appetitive Powers
  6. Locomotive Powers

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Every animal has a soul that not only subsumes the powers of the plant soul, but in addition has three extra categories of powers.

It might come as a surprise to some that the sensitive powers of the soul do not just refer to the five sense that are commonly known. No…in addition to the five external senses there are also four other senses, but these senses are internal!

The Sensitive Powers

  1. External Senses (the five senses- touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing)
  2. Internal Senses (the four lesser known internal senses- the “common sense,” the imagination, the memory, and the estimative sense)

Now we see that here alone the sensitive powers are broken up into 9 different powers!

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The Appetitive Powers

There are eleven appetitites that every animal has which are all really powers of the sensitive soul. We usually call them passions or emotions.

Concupiscible Appetitites

  1. love
  2. hate
  3. desire
  4. aversion
  5. pleasure (joy)
  6. pain (sorrow)

Irascible Appetites

  1. hope
  2. despair
  3. audacity (courage)
  4. fear
  5. anger

Thus we see that there are eleven appetitive powers in all. Now we are not making an attempt to explain each power or argue to their existence. Right now we are only concerned about getting them all out on the table! So what are the remaining powers of the sensitive soul? Fortunately, this is easy.

The Locomotive Power

Every animal has the power of locomotion. Even a clam!

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Now the human being has a rational soul. So the rational soul, as we said before includes not only the three powers of the vegetative soul, and not only the twenty-one powers unique to the sensitive soul, but it also possess the two fundamental powers of the rational soul:  Intellect and Will.

So how many powers does your soul have? Let’s count them up!

At least Twenty-Six!

Posted in Delphi, philosophy, Shakespeare, soul | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Palestrina and Handel March For Life!

Yes, both consummate sacred musicians George Frideric Handel and Giovanni  Pierluigi da Palestrina were at the 2019 March for Life! I am guessing that this was yet another record-setting precedent for the annual March which attracted hundreds of thousands of people once again! Where were these composers? You will have to read to the very end.

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George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

Is there a better way to confront the ugliness of culture of death than with beauty (and I am not referring to Handel’s hairdo)? If there is one thing certain about the culture of death it is this: it is ugly!

By contrast for the hundreds of thousands (Was there a half million? 650,000? Who will ever know?) of people who attended this year’s March For Life in Washington DC, one fact was assuredly apparent to everyone. The marchers were predominantly young and enthusiastic. Their joy was infectious!

It was the joy that emanates from  those whose souls are inclined towards Goodness and Truth. No one who attends the March For Life can escape the wonderful feeling that comes from being in the presence of a vast crowd of souls which are disposed towards goodness!

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Students from The Lyceum with Lila Rose, President of Live Action

Wherever I looked, I kept saying to myself, “There is another friend,” or “There is another person I should know.” Goodness is diffusive. It is also very attractive!

Granted there were a few pro-culture-of-death protesters on the sidelines who served to remind anyone who happened to see them more vividly (although I missed them entirely) of the ugliness against which they were marching. Everyone who attended the March most assuredly returned home with renewed energy and confidence. Each returned home knowing that one day beauty will prevail!

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Life is Beautiful!

Now, for the sixty-five or so marchers from our school in South Euclid Ohio, the March was a non-stop celebration of that beauty which will prevail. On Thursday morning, the day before the March, the students, refreshed from their long bus ride, proceeded to the historic and beautiful church of Saint Dominic .

An image of the front of St. Dominic Catholic Church in Washington, D.C.

Apparently, a stained glass window of Saint Joseph was donated in 1875 to the Church by Ellen Ewing Sherman, the wife of none other than General William Tecumseh Sherman!

lyceum students entering st dominics in dcAs it was a Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the students sang the gorgeous Missa Brevis by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the famous Victoria Ave Maria, and of course their signature communion motet Sicut Cervus!

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That afternoon, after breaking into smaller groups that respectively toured various places like the Capitol, the Holocaust Museum, and the Museum of the Bible, the school converged at Mt Vernon! I can’t think of a more fitting way to prepare for marching in defense of the sacredness of human life than by singing at Holy Mass and revisiting the life and home of our nation’s first president, who was by all accounts a president that held that all life should be held sacred.

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Returning to Washington later that evening, we were just in time to attend the Annual Rosary for Life in the Crypt Church of The Basilica of The National Shrine of The Immaculate Conception! The rosary was led by the Most Reverend David Allen Zubik, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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The Rosary began with a rousing rendition of Immaculate Mary

Before each Hail Mary, the name of one of the states was announced, and an individual candle was lit, until all fifty states had been duly singled out for prayer!

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The next morning, students and their chaperones once again returned to St Dominic’s Church for Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form. This time, however, as the main church was already being used by a larger group of marchers, our smaller group was able to hear Mass at the smaller chapel used by the Dominican friars for their community prayers.

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At first I have to admit I was disappointed not to be in the main church simply because I had anticipated that the chapel would offer less agreeable acoustics to enhance the students’ singing. But as it turned out,  the chapel had lovely acoustics and offered the additional considerable advantage of the traditional Friar’s choir seating – two long rows of choir stalls facing one another on both sides of the aisle! Again, the students sang the same Missa Brevis but this time they sang William Byrd’s beautiful Ave Verum Corpus for communion. As the priest and Altar server proceeded out, the students sang the Lovely motet Lord For Thy Tender Mercies Sake by the sixteenth century English composer Richard Farrant. I thought it set just the right penitential tone for students who were about to march for life especially with the words about walking “with a perfect heart.”

Lord, for thy tender mercy’s sake,
lay not our sins to our charge,
but forgive that is past
and give us grace to amend our sinful lives;
to decline from sin and incline to virtue,
that we may walk with a perfect heart
before thee now and evermore.

Now everyone was prepared properly for the March! By God’s providence it was a lovely day in D.C. with sun and milder temperatures than is sometimes the case. We made our way to the rally and of course, because of the enormous throng that had beat us to the Mall, we were among the throng that could hear the thunderous roar of those who cheered the speakers.

Now anyone who has been to the March for Life knows that the chief difficulty of marching as a group of, say, more than two people, is simply staying together. Everyone who has attended knows that aside from being strapped together there is almost no way not to experience a separation from one’s group simply from the sheer movement of the vast assemblage. It was fairly tough to stay together even when standing still at the rally!

But as we began to march, our students found a way not only to stay together, but also to make a fitting contribution to the peaceful witness in support of the unborn! They sang! lyceum on march towards capitol

Now I confess that I was a bit skeptical about singing during the march. As a choir director, I know that it is difficult to sing outside. It is also fairly challenging to sing anything but perhaps the most well-known hymns or songs (e.g. Happy Birthday, a verse of Amazing Grace or the National Anthem) without music!

So what did these students sing without any music whatsoever? For starters they began with the full Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah! I thought that was a fitting thing to sing on Constitution Avenue simply as a reminder that it is Our Lord who is the King of Kings. It is He that shall reign for ever and ever!

I think Handel would have been proud. The students sang the chorus beautifully from memory which is even tougher when there is no accompanying orchestra! Inspired by their success and encouraged by many marchers who pulled out their phones to record their singing, the students continued singing for almost an entire hour. The repertoire for the 2019 March for Life included the following:

  • Hallelujah Chorus – G.F. Handel
  • Lord For Thy Tender Mercies Sake – Farrant
  • Alma Redemptoris – Palestrina
  • Gloria In Excelsis Deo – from the Missa Brevis – Palestrina
  • Regina Coeli – Salazar
  • Stella Matutina – Italian Carol
  • Cibavit Eos – Christopher Tye
  • Sicut Cervus – Palestrina
  • Salve Regina – Gregorian Chant
  • Ave Maria – Gregorian Chant
  • Ave Maria – Victoria
  • Dixit Archangelis – Austrian Carol
  • and others

Of course, we repeated the pieces which seemed to go especially well. Naturally, the more “monophonic” the music is, the better it blends and stays together in the midst of a vast crowd.  But I was amazed at how well all of the music could sound even while sung by students on the march!

I will never forget the 2019 March for Life, nor will, I think, our students. They marched for those who could not. They lent their feet in witness to life. But they also lent their beautiful voices and demonstrated, like so many other young people at the March, that life is beautiful!

Posted in beauty, catholic education, education, Fine Arts, Music, Sacred Music | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Do Children Know How to Educate Themselves?

Whatever one may say about our twenty-eighth president’s views about The United States’ role as promoter of democracy and capitalism and interventionism throughout the world, I think we have to give him whole-hearted applause for his views on authentic liberal education.

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Take this for example,

When you say a young person must be prepared for his life-work, are you prepared, is he prepared, are his parents prepared, to say what that life-work is going to be?

The answer to this is NO!

He proceeds,

Do you know a boy is going to be a mechanic by the color of his hair? Do you know that he is going to be a lawyer by the fact that his father was a lawyer? Does any average and representative modern parent dare to say what his children are going to be?

Again the answer to the first two questions is “no” and “no,” but there certainly are more than a few average modern parents who do in fact dare say what their children are going to be, or at least dare to say what their children won’t be. Witness the shortage in religious vocations for example.

Wilson hits the nail hard on the head when he says,

My chief quarrel with the modern parent is that he does not know, and that he hands that question over to the youngster whom he is supposed to be advising and training.

The elective system of education which began in the university (where it properly belongs), and crept back into the college and has now permeated most high schools and is even seeping into (if you can believe it!) the primary school, is an exact exemplification of what Wilson is saying.

These days parents say to their children,

“Son, daughter, you must be successful in life. I don’t know what you are going to be or how you are going to accomplish this. I who am older and wiser than you don’t know how you should be educated. I don’t know what precise path you should take. I will not prescribe a certain path for you to follow. No… making these important decisions  about your life and your success must all be left up to you who are relatively ignorant about all things. Every choice about your intellectual formation must be made by you according to your own whims and passing fancies.

That is what the elective system is isn’t it? I just can’t get over how silly it is on the face of it. It represents a complete abdication of responsibility  on the part of those who are supposed to know better.

It would be like a pediatrician saying to a child ,

As your doctor I recommend health to you. But what health is and how you should acquire it is completely up to you. You must make your own diagnoses and choose your own prescriptions.

You might think that this comparison is too strong.

You say,

Yes- that would be ridiculous for doctors to let their patients diagnose themselves and write their own prescriptions. But the health of the body is a very delicate and important thing. There are very precise methods, rules, and best practices that must be adhered to in order to obtain and maintain health.

But Socrates would reply,

What is more important, the health of the body or the health of the soul? Which is more easy to achieve? If the health of the body requires certain precise methods and practices, how much more would the health of the soul require these!

It is not difficult to understand why parents abdicate their responsibilities as primary educators and why as a consequence, the children themselves, or rather the passions, whims and fancies of the children, become the primary architect of their own intellectual formation. The reason is that many parents no longer know what an education is. And so they substitute the imagined idea of their child’s success in a career, a career which they know not, for education.

This unknown career becomes the child’s purpose in life, and the school is asked to educate the child in order to make him “college and career ready.”

As Wilson says,

“…when he says he wants his son’s training suited to his purpose of life he must admit his son has no purpose in life. Then we are asked to suit our processes to this undestined youth.”

Now this is a predicament. The school must educate children to be successful for a myriad unknown careers. Wilson writes about the state of education in the early part of the twentieth century,

“With this complexity, what has the modern school attempted to do? It has attempted to do everything at once. It has said: Here are a lot of boys and girls whose future occupations we do not know and they do not know. They must be prepared for life. Therefore we must prepare everybody for everything that is in that life. We haven’t found it amusing. We haven’t found it possible. We have attempted it and we know we have failed at it. You cannot train everybody for everything. Moreover you are not competent to teach everything. There is not any body of teachers suited in gifts or training to do this impossible thing. Neither the schools nor those who guide them have attempted to make any discrimination with regard to purpose or to settle upon methods which will promise some degree of substantial success. That is the situation we are in.”

Wilson said this in 1909 speaking to the New York City High School Teachers Association.

More than a century later …. progress?

Posted in classical education, education, liberal education, truth for its own sake | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Trim the Hearth and Set the Table 2018

As we have mentioned before, one of the great joys of Christmas springs from the fact that while it is renewed every year, it nonetheless is renewed precisely because it encapsulates and brings forth the things from of old. It is an annual renaissance of the same Christ born 2000 years ago, and is celebrated in each family by the rebirth of each family’s  traditions and customs.

Everyone looks forward to recapturing the grand things that have made past festivities so memorable. Certainly we might mix in some variation- but everyone is pleased when the special joys that formed past memories are recaptured and come alive in the present!

And so once again, after playing the organ for five separate Christmas Masses, and after receiving the generous help, in their contributions of extraordinary musical talent of my own children and friends, we were able to commence our own family festivities at about 2:00 pm Christmas Day! I suppose the three youngest kids deserve special commendation for the great patience which they exhibited by having to gaze at all the presents under the tree from 7:00 AM to about 3:00 PM. They were terrific. Nonetheless, brunch helped immensely! I returned from the 12:00 PM Mass at the beautiful Immaculate Conception church with my four daughters (3 Sopranos and one Alto), and the first thing I saw was the table disposed and aptly arranged….but for what?

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Now fruit-salad is ideal at any brunch- and certainly a regular feature in our tradition. Every year the fruit seems fresher than I remember. How is this possible?  Persimmons, blackberries, raspberries, pineapple, grapes and strawberries.  IMG_1705

Aside from the fruit-salad for its own sake- I also think it is handy for plumping some of those strawberries in the mimosas!

I suppose one might find a better “champagne,” but I really do find that I enjoy any thing that says “Brut” on it. But why would anyone mix an expensive bottle with orange juice and strawberries?  Nonetheless, if one is buying an inexpensive bottle of Champagne, or Sparkling Wine or Cava, there is always the expedient of wrapping it carefully in a napkin to keep the label discretely out of sight of anyone who has a more discerning taste (or a thicker wallet!)

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One of the traditions we have at brunch is what is affectionately called “Baby Jesus Bun.” It is a delicious bun with a creamy sort of filling. Now of course we know that the early Christians were accused of “Thyestean feasts” by the Romans and that one Athenagoras spent considerable efforts defending Christians from the charge of cannibalism. And so without making light of the seriousness of those charges and with apologies to Athenagoras, I will admit that these Baby Jesus Buns are absolutely scrumptious!

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It’s time for us to obtain a new Italian coffee maker. We love the coffee from these Italian espresso makers- and I still can’t figure out the physics of the thing. The water starts in the bottom and then through the wonders of heat and pressure, it somehow mysteriously is forced up through the finely ground fresh coffee beans. The lid of my coffee maker fell off years ago, but it doesn’t seem to matter much. The coffee does not come spraying out in an upwards direction. The only drawback to this coffee maker is that it only makes two strong cups at a time. (I know, I know- we could use a demitasse, but who really wants to pretend that a there is enough coffee in a demitasse for anyone!?)

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Last Christmas we had “Eggs Blackstone” which I suppose is one of the many variations on Eggs Benedict. Whereas Eggs Blackstone includes poached eggs atop some sourdough bread with tomatoes and bacon, this year we had Eggs Benedict atop a slice of smoked salmon atop Thomas’s famous English Muffins!  My daughter Mary made the Hollandaise Sauce- somehow managing to obtain the ideal creamy texture and flavor!

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In addition to the smoked salmon we included small and large beef sausage patties.

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Stephanie managed to collect an assortment of candles throughout the year. All different sizes and lengths for the various candle-holders.

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My plate- of course a little Cayenne pepper!

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The biggest challenge this year was how to squeeze both a brunch and a dinner in on the same day. After opening presents I took a two hour nap!

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But I awoke as if no time had passed to the smell of Anna’s famous buttery dinner rolls! A sure sign that dinner was imminent.

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This year marked the first time that I can remember for this delicious green dish. An arrangement of Green Beans, Asparagus and Fennel – cooked al dente and topped with a spinkle of olive oil.

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Stephanie’s home-made gravy gathered from the sheer goodness that oozed out of the roast.

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A rich risotto flavored by a magical cremini mushroom concoction!

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At long last – the coup de grace- Beef Wellington!

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Now to be perfectly honest, I have no idea how Stephanie made the bread-y cheesy wrap around the marvelous fatty roast that I obtained (from Costco). It was steaming and cooked to perfection- wonderfully done on the outside but still pink in the center. Satisfaction for everyone’s taste. I think Stephanie had actually chosen a superior and less expensive and leaner roast – but as she was pushing the shopping cart, I was suddenly taken with the idea of substituting a richer fattier cut. Given the overall richness of the meal, I think her instincts were far better than mine (as usual). Nonetheless, what a Wellington!

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Nothing contributes to the sacred aura of the Christmas feast more than candles.

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I forgot to take a photo of the delicious Californian 2016 Pinot Noir from Monterey County. “Aromas of red cherry and bright strawberry followed by flavours of plum and black cherry,” I will take the vintner’s word for it.

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To finish everything off, my daughter baked this star-shaped sweet bread. A sweet dough interlaced with a plum jam of some sort or another. (Special thanks to my son Mark for all the photos!)

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Merry Christmas!

Posted in beauty, breakfast, Christmas, Dinner, Feasts, Fine Arts | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

We Don’t Need No Education

Sometimes in life we need to face difficult truths.  If we have been on the wrong side of an issue, we need to be open to change, and open to declaring an “about-face.” Even if it hurts!

And so, after thirty years of teaching and promoting education, after thirty years of giving largely unsolicited advice to parents about educating their children, after thirty years fighting an uphill battle to help market education for struggling schools that purport to “educate,” I think it is now time to consider a different point of view. Do we really need to educate our children?

Why not just baptize them and give them a good training?

There is no need to pull down the current institutions of learning – our current schools colleges and universities. No need whatsoever, because they have all already abandoned education for at least a century now…that is, they have abandoned everything that the word stands for but have kept the word itself. And so there is no need to change marketing materials. We just need to understand that every time we hear the word ‘education’ nowadays, we should simply understand that what is really meant is “training.”

I wish to provide five excellent reasons why parents should avoid giving their children an education and should, rather, do all they can to give them a proper training– but before beginning, let us distinguish our terms just a little.

Education concerns itself with the refinement of the intellect so that it might bring all things to bear on the truth. Education is about forming the mind so that it can look throughout the world and the cosmos and see the various orders that exist.

To gaze upon the orders that exist – whether the orderly beauty amidst the ranks of the humblest creatures’ (even inanimate!) spheres of existence, or whether it is to gaze upon the order that exists among the sphere in which man himself lives – in society and in his own soul, or whether it is to marvel at the order that exists in the spheres above him-

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the starry heavens and even among the separated substances – and perhaps whether it is, at last, to gaze upon the Divine cause of all this order Himself, God.

This is, roughly, what education is about.

Training has to do with adapting the mind and making it excellent at special works; making the mind, and the hands, adept at the performance of specific and productive tasks.

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Training involves developing a single-minded focus on a limited sphere of activity and developing the habits that belong to performing that activity with excellence! Whether managing a portfolio, or performing heart surgery, or installing fiber optic cables,

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or designing efficient systems for selling anything on the internet! What a wonderful thing training is! Thank goodness we have schools, colleges and universities which are “doing first-class work as training-schools.” Really, we can’t have too many of them.

 

In 1937, the American Libertarian Albert Jay Nock  had already noticed a confusion of these terms (i.e. Education and Training) and wrote about it in his famous essay “The Disadvantages of Being Educated”. When examining what was going on in the colleges and universities at the time, he said that the ‘education’ they purported to impart,

aimed at what we used to call training rather than education; and it not only did very little with education, but seemed to assume that training was education, thus overriding a distinction that formerly was quite clear. Forty years ago a man trained to proficiency in anything was respected accordingly, but was not regarded as an educated man, or “just as good,” on the strength of it. A trained mechanic, banker, dentist or man of business got all due credit for his proficiency, but his education, if he had any, lay behind that and was not confused with it.

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In other words, if a man is educated, that is something quite apart from whether he is trained to be ‘successful’ in the world. Education does not have a direct bearing on what is meant by success. If anything, education is something that lies further back in the soul. It is something “behind” training, without being necessary at all to training.

An interesting pastime for every teacher is following the path and careers of his former students. Teachers of course are naturally interested in what happens to their students after they leave their charge and make their path off to college or simply dive directly into the world.

It has often struck me, although I am not yet ready to make a sweeping generalization, that very often the students that appear to have the most intellectual talent and are perhaps the most industrious in their studies, do not, surprisingly, appear to be identical with the students that appear to make their way in the world in a manner that would be recognized as being the most “successful.”

Education, says Albert J. Nock,

“…leads a person on to ask a great deal more from life than life, as at present organized, is willing to give him; and it begets dissatisfaction with the rewards that life holds out.”

Whereas,

“Training tends to satisfy him with very moderate and simple returns. A good income, a home and family, the usual run of comforts and conveniences, diversions addressed only to the competitive or sporting spirit or else to raw sensation – training not only makes directly for getting these, but also for an inert and comfortable contentment with them.”

I hate to say it, but could it be that education might actually be counterproductive? Suppose you would like to have a successful son, could it be that insisting that he obtain an education might be to do nothing other than to place a sizable obstacle in his path?

I think so, and here are five excellent reasons why everyone should avoid being educated:

  1. Education instills in the mind of its suitors an interest in things that are of very little interest to most people.

This is easy to understand. Just go ahead and pick up a book of Euclid’s’ Elements. Here is  how it begins:

“A Point is that which has no part.”

What does that mean? And suppose we try to find out? Where will that leave us? Who really cares about what a point is anyway? What does this have to do with the price of a loaf of bread and a gallon of gasoline? Nothing really.  Can you blame anyone for not really caring about what a point and a line are?

Anyone who studies Euclid’s Geometry will quickly develop a taste for theoretical truth and, sometimes, a corresponding distaste for anything that smacks of the practical. And this leads to our second excellent reason.

2. Education fosters a distaste for practical things.

This point is again illustrated very well by the story told by the fifth century compiler of Greek manuscripts, Stobaeus:

… someone who had begun to learn geometry with Euclid, when he had learnt the first theorem, asked Euclid, “What shall I get by learning these things?” Euclid called his slave and said, “Give him threepence since he must make gain out of what he learns”.

A proper education, that is a liberal education, is called liberal precisely because it is not at the service of things practical. That is why it appears to have been only an education that the wealthy or aristocratic could afford to obtain. They had what they needed already for living well – at least as regards food, shelter and clothing.

3. Education tends to be divisive and isolates the one who receives it.

This reason was clarified for me by Mr. Nock. He says,

Education deprives a young person of one of his most precious possessions, the sense of co-operation with his fellows. He is like a pacifist in 1917, alone in spirit – a depressing situation, and especially, almost unbearably, depressing to youth. “After all,” says Dumas’s hero, “man is man’s brother,” and youth especially needs a free play of the fraternal sense; it needs the stimulus and support of association in common endeavour.

The student who makes the ill-fated decision to become educated will in that decision unknowingly cause the separation between himself and all of his peers, and indeed, perhaps even the greater part of humanity.

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Why is education divisive? Well, just think about Socrates for a moment. He was a gadfly! In his relentless pursuit of truth he could not help but to uncover and expose the lack of wisdom in anyone else who claimed to have wisdom. I am afraid that this is an inescapable characteristic of anyone who wishes to be educated or wise, he must walk in the footsteps of Socrates.

Training, on the other hand, brings one into society and helps one to fit in as a normal participant in the human race. Mr. Nock remarks,

At present one can afford only to be trained. The young person’s fellows are turning all their energy into a single narrow channel of interest; they have set the whole current of their being in one direction. Education is all against his doing that, while training is all for it; hence training puts him in step with his fellows, while education tends to leave him a solitary figure, spiritually disqualified.

4. Education creates a distaste for barter and exchange.

Now this is a real disadvantage for anyone who happens to live in this world. Liberal education, as was mentioned, arose out of man’s desire to know for its own sake. Liberal education arose out of the divine instinct for knowledge,  implanted by the Creator in our souls, an instinct that we call ‘wonder.’ Wonder is the desire to know something in its causes, and for its own sake. The person who wonders about something does not wonder because he wishes to make money or do something with the knowledge. He simply wishes to know. He is like a child in this regard.  Like a child he chants in his best Trochaic meter,

Twinkle twinkle little star,

How I wonder what you are!

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The child does not wish to sell the star. Socrates was poor. He did not sell his knowledge to students like the sophists of his day. Wisdom is not for sale. Like a beautiful lady, one does not court her for her wealth or for her connections or for some other advantage. She demands of her suitors that she be loved for her own sake. And just so does Lady Philosophy appear to Boethius in his prison cell after he has suffered the terrible ups and downs of fortune’s wheel.

By a liberal education, the mind of the student is habituated towards a love of things that cannot be bought or sold. Unfortunately, those who develop this love cannot help but develop a corresponding clumsiness and even distaste for things that are measured in terms of dollars and cents.

This leads us to the fifth reason why education should be avoided.

5. Education tends to produce a person that no longer has a place in society.

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman famously said,

Liberal Education makes not the Christian, not the Catholic, but the gentleman.  

Or a lady! Newman did not mean that liberal education produces a man (or woman), who dresses and adopts the fashions of the day as they are set forth in say Gentleman’s Quarterly or some-such other worldly standard.  No, he meant that liberal education produces a refinement of mind, manners, speech, and bearing such that its recipient becomes properly responsive to beauty, goodness and truth!

Here are some highlights of the lady or gentleman according to Newman:

he is one who never inflicts pain…He is mainly occupied in merely removing the obstacles which hinder the free and unembarrassed action of those about him;  … The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast;… He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; …he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. … He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort…

In this world we are taught that a person must “market” himself, and do what one may to make himself desirable over others in order to “get ahead.”

In the words of Mr. Nock,

Again, education tends towards a certain reluctance about pushing oneself forward; and in a society so notoriously based on the principle of each man for himself, this is a disadvantage.

And so it is clear that those who seek an education thereby seek at least the five disadvantages that I have enumerated. There are undoubtedly more, but these alone are enough to demonstrate how difficult life will be for the educated person.

Therefore, parents take note!

Do you desire successful children?

Do you hope that your children will fit in as normal and ‘happy’ participants in society?

Do you love your children to the extent that you hope they will live comfortably and harmoniously in this world?

Well then, if your answer was “yes” to these questions, then by all means, don’t educate them!

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