We ARE the new generation of philosophers, discoverers, and inventors. Don’t believe me? Well, weren’t the Greeks, say, Aristotle or Plato, just the same human beings as we are? All they did was think and analyze things critically to change the world. Who says we can’t do that either? We have all the resources of the world, and even MORE than what the ancient, acclaimed Greeks and writers of classics had. Why not use all these resources?
I read a lecture taught by Dr. Mortimer J. Adler, the Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, addressed to the Harvard Extension School in 1990. His lecture, “The Great Books, the Great Ideas, and a Lifetime of Learning,” focuses on three concepts: the importance of schooling, the idea that education is timeless, and the principles of a Paideia (education) reform. He says that “The three main objectives of schooling are: preparation for earning a living; preparation for intelligent fulfillment of one’s civic duty; and preparation for fulfilling one’s moral obligation to lead a morally good life, enriched by the continuation of learning.” As for the principles of an education reform, Dr. Adler states that it is important for “genuine equality of educational opportunity–not just the same quantity of schooling, but the same quality for all.”
This idea of a liberal arts education for the general public is very needed these days. Dr. Mortimer Adler expresses strongly in his book, “How to Read a Book,” that education is not just a matter about knowing, but understanding. Thomas More even admiringly perceives in his book, Utopia, that people “have a particular sagacity, founded upon much observation, […] but as to the philosophy of these things, […] they dispute of them partly as our ancient philosophers have done.” More understands and pushes the importance of education, because he trusts that humans are all born with an innate sense of wisdom. I find it super intriguing that we should have the same mindsets and facilities as the philosophers of the past. By educating ourselves, and reaching out to everyone, including those who don’t usually have access to great classics or a liberal arts education, we can nurture and create a more understanding society.
Even if “Utopia” means “no place,” it is portrayed as a “good place,” which I think gives hope for a morally stable society. Let’s say, the key to survival today in this competitive society is to be influenced with good, and fed daily with morality. In order for advancement in an individual’s education, there must be a community aspect and effort, and as Dr. Adler urges in his multiple books, educational reform must be of a national scale. Utopia also strongly encourages that a reform in the social institutions that essentially, cookie-cut individuals and place them in the bold hands of society, must be reformed to see any changes. In the textbook we’ve been reading for class, A History of Western Society, the editor, McKay, admits worriedly, “Today this view is so much taken for granted that it is difficult to appreciate how radical More’s approach was in the sixteenth century.” In essence, I think we must all take advantage of the educational resources we have to change the world.
Adler, Mortimer J., “The Great Books, the Great Ideas, and a Lifetime of Learning.” Lowell Lecture Series. Harvard Extension School. 11 April 1990. Lecture. http://www.dce.harvard.edu/pubs/lowell/madler.html
Adler, Mortimer, and Charles Van Doren. How to read a book. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1940. 431-iv. eBook. http://books.google.com/books?id=Z5PpkQadm5EC&printsec=frontcover&dq=mortimeradler&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZDcwT_reDaKciQL50bySAw&ved=0CDYQ6AEwAQ
McKay, John P. , et al. A History of Western Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. Print.
More, Thomas. “Utopia/Chapter 6.” Wikisource, The Free Library. 5 Sep 2011, 11:52 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 13 Feb 2012 http://en.wikisource.org/w/index.php?title=Utopia/Chapter_6&oldid=3364119