Tagged: Education

Two Reflections on the Limits of Politics

The political problem.— If the best people — the most talented, most thoughtful, most learned, most dedicated, most nobly motivated — went into politics, the world would be almost exactly the opposite of what it is right now. But the best people, by definition, will never enter politics — or if they do, will fail and come to despise themselves. For “best,” in...

Philosophic Principles, Part Four

Good-and-Evil is the horizontal axis. Good-and-Bad is the vertical axis. The horizontal axis measures the moral realm — practical and “human, all too human” — where the standard is right and wrong in a social context. The vertical axis measures the cosmic or theoretical realm, where the standard is either wisdom vs. ignorance (Plato) or life-enhancement vs. life-diminution (Nietzsche). That either-or is not...

Survival of the Fittest: Teaching vs. Normalcy

Every society, without exception, tends to harden its founding presuppositions and hopes into a set of stated and unstated rules for living. Gradually, the great character and thought needed to bring a society into being give way to the forced teaching and rote learning of the simplified and simplifying rules deemed necessary to preserve that society. And this in turn reduces maturation to...

Learning and Teaching

In my recent “Reflections From A Great Distance,” I compared the thinking life to backing away from a mirror. Seeing yourself too close up exaggerates one’s perception of the immediate foreground of life, the accidental details of the moment — flaws, errors, pleasures, excitements, fears, frustrations, and all the rest of the transient and noisy. As you back away, those accidental details of...

On Pleasure and Learning

Philosophic hedonism.— The soul naturally inclines toward beliefs, solutions, behaviors, and aims that promise the greatest pleasure. Education is primarily the process of unlearning the childhood weakness for mistaking the quickest or most immediate pleasure for the greatest pleasure. The educated person is thus the one who habitually forgoes the near or easy pleasure in favor of the distant, rarefied one, and the...

Distortions of Proximity

The essence of education is the gradual widening of horizons, which means, most precisely, the extension of one’s view of life, which is necessarily limited at the outset to one’s nearest and most immediate surroundings, to encompass increasingly distant and obscure elements of existence. The widened horizon, in turn, provides a truer context within which to perceive and understand the near and immediate....

New Teacher, Old Teacher

The New Teacher is a dispenser of grades and ranks, an administrator of late modernity’s societal ordering and sorting system — essentially a bureaucrat or accountant. The Old Teacher was a guide of the soul’s desire, channeling a few young people’s restless and potentially self-devouring hunger into a happy and habit-forming quest for timeless and necessary understanding — essentially a lion tamer or...

Social Conservatism, Progressive-Style

In a classic example of the way progressivism, like all aggressive irrationalism, devours itself, we have the spectacle of the ubiquitous and increasingly literal policing of politically incorrect attitudes, a social deformity which has now grown into its final (in the sense of fatal) shape: today’s infantile world of safe spaces and public shaming. For generations, progressives attacked so-called social conservatives for their...

Courage vs. Fear

Being a true student is harder than being a true teacher. For the teacher, who of course was once a student, has already survived the soul’s harshest test, namely discovering that which is uncomfortable to see, while the student is still facing this trial. Not merely facing it, in fact, but wading through its unexpected depths, stepping painfully among its unseen jagged rocks,...

Annoy a Conservative! Recommend “The Case Against Public Education” Now!

He will be taught how to do socially useful things, and how to accept his social role peacefully, perhaps even to like it; that will be his “adulthood.” Meanwhile, the basic emotional dependency, fear of standing alone, and need for external guidance intrinsic to childhood will become permanent conditions of his soul. It is the teacher’s role to hold the child in position,...