Monday, March 21, 2005

The liberal arts...

Bill Hoyt sent me this article about a month ago, when a group of us was engaged in a discussion about the best kind of education. The answer that Leo Strauss has created is as fresh and controversial now as it was when written. While some would dismiss Strauss as the father of neo-conservatism, he raises good points about the role of culture in the creation of society and civilization. Moreover, if you look closely at his text you will see that Strauss does not just reference the traditions of the West:

“The greatest minds to whom we ought to listen are by no means exclusively the greatest minds of the West. It is merely an unfortunate necessity which prevents us from listening to the greatest minds of India and of China: we do not understand their languages, and we cannot learn all languages.”

He has reverence to the best that humanity as to offer, and gives us all the goal of bettering society and ourselves by appealing to reason, logic and a natural aristocracy. Such a goal is sadly missing from most education today. Instead of it being a liberating event to open up a good old book and engage with an interesting teacher, it is often just another powerstruggle between different points of view. The educated person is a rare thing and Strauss makes us realize that.

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