An illiberal eduation

I never tire of posting articles on the value of a classical liberal arts education.  Read here for some reflections on a recent Ralph McInerny interview.

On a totally unrelated point: Classic item in the Herald Journal today, the sort of thing you only read in Utah.  They were highlighting a bright young girl (valedictorian of her class I believe) who will soon be graduating from high school.  All she could talk about was her marriage in one month.  Here was the classic Utah line: ‘She’s been dating since she was in 8th grade, so thought it was time to settle down.’  Hilarious.

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About Kleiner

Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.

5 thoughts on “An illiberal eduation

  1. Rob

    It saddens me to report that that is scarcely the sort of thing you only read in Utah. But to the article:

    Truth, Aquinas said, is the “conformity of the mind with what is.” Any education that does not aim at this relationship is, yes, “illiberal.”

    So, by this view, is an education which has the effect of encouraging atheism (if not also agnosticism) and softening the convictions of believers illiberal?

    This reminds me of a nice comment at Leiter Reports.

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  2. Kleiner Post author

    Of course one can be educated and atheist. Those persons might have apprehended the truth of a great many things, just not the truth about first things! :)

    I would put the point this way – the point of education is to bring the mind to its proper end, which is understanding (apprehension of truth). It is too often the case these days that the end of education is suspicion (see my recent post on this very point). The point of education is not to destroy, it is ultimately to build up. I say ultimately because some amount of destruction is almost always necessary. But this is entirely instrumental, and we should be careful to not make a fetish of it. The danger then is that we become like puppies, pulling and wrestling over a bone (Plato’s analogy) – eagerly flexing our intellectual muscle, though ultimately we’ve become misologues.

    Here is another way of making the point. While the Meno ends in failure, failure is not the end (telos) of philosophical inquiry. It is the end of elenchus, but elenchus is only done for the sake of dialectic. My concern with Derridian deconstruction, for instance, is that it takes elenchus to be the whole ball game. Meno is benefited from the elenchus because now he can move to the next important step – conforming his mind to what is virtue.

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