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An illiberal eduation

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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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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.



  1. Rob says:

    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.


  2. Kleiner says:

    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.


  3. That’s an all ’round well thought out post


  4. I dont disagree with this article.


  5. Thank goodness some bloggers can still write. Thanks for this piece!!


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