Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wage Slave by Day, Gentleman by Night

In the debate between Liberal and Practical Arts (Business, Science, Engineering), the Tocquevillian position would be to see truth and error on both sides.

In an Aristocracy, Liberal Arts was originally an education for a “Free” man. Free meant being free from work. Of course, that is because others did the work for him.

In a Democracy, the hereditary aristocracy is abolished so that commoners would be free. But all that really means is we all have to work now. Even the supposed natural aristocracy of the Americans (Gates, Buffet, etc.) have to work long, hard hours too. Americans of all stripes must labor to feed, shelter and clothe their bodies. Majoring in a trade then is necessary.

But we’re more than just bodies. And so thinking about how to acquire food, shelter, and clothing for our family, while necessary, is insufficient. We also have to think hard about politics, culture, and religion too. As that jobless Socrates once said, “The point is not to live, but live well.” Which means we have to study the Liberal Arts. Basics, the first two years of college, have been watered down in a variety of ways: AP Tests, Dual Credit, and substitute courses (Business Ethics can replace the Introduction to Philosophy class). Revitalizing those courses coupled with lifetime learning ought to do the trick. Indeed, the popularity of businesses like The Teaching Company reveal that man cannot live by bread alone.

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