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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Will Think for Food.....

Four out of my four degrees are on the Kiplinger list of the worst degrees to have to get a job or for decent pay. I almost also got a fine arts degree in painting. That would have made five out of five degrees which no longer merit either attention or money.

English. history, theology, philosophy...the end of a civilization is nigh when the liberal arts are no longer prized.

I have a good memory. At the graduation ceremony in 1983, at the University of Notre Dame, where a good friend of mine was receiving his doctorate in chemistry, Father Theodore Hesburgh, then President, noted that for the first time in the history of the university, the business undergraduate degrees outnumbered the liberal arts bachelor degrees.

The priest was upset. He said that Notre Dame prided herself in being a university that promoted the liberal arts and that society needed the liberal arts majors.


One learns how to think when one is in the fields of the liberal arts. Liberal arts are not merely classes where one memorizes material in order to pass an exam, but where critical thinking skills are taught and honed.

When a civilization only supports business persons and jobs which are primarily utilitarian, that society is facing extinction. Bismark knew this. Dewey knew this. These men did not want thinkers, but "good citizens" who were slaves to the state. Nazism did not merely come out of nothing. Secular liberalism did not come out of nothing. These were orchestrated by education systems which undermined the liberal arts. These came out of cultures whose people no longer could think through moral issues and, therefore, would chose expediency over morality.

We in the West are there, on the brink of the collapse of all our nations. Without the moral frameworks and the logical thinking learned in history, English, theology and philosophy, a people cannot judge good from bad, propaganda from news, consequences from decisions and actions, nor manipulative politics.

The people have lost the ability to think.

Father Hepsburgh was correct so long ago in his assessment. When philosophy stops asking the basic questions of meaning, when history is no longer a basis of contemporary critique, when  English or any classical language is no longer studied for its own sake for grammar which teaches logic, and when religion becomes a mere study of anthropology, the society collapses from within; and when one sees a college or university degree as an investment instead of part of the spiritual growth of a person, the society has sold out to valuing only what seems materially useful and not spiritual.

And why is it that I can bring up Gramsci in a group of foreign youth that only the Brazilians, Poles, Czechs, Germans, and Italians have studied him and can discuss the culture wars?

The anti-intellectualism of the Irish and the British cannot compete with the knowledge of some other European and South American countries. One Polish young man said to me today that because they lived through tyranny, the Poles can spot the rot, and the rot is here in Eire. But, anti-intellectualism is the root cause of such ignorance. The present Pope who values Reason and Faith is ignored.

It is the teaching of the whole person, as opposed to specific training for one type of job, that is the very essence of the liberal arts. This philosophy of education “has its origin in the medieval concept of artes liberalis, the seven liberal arts that were appropriate for a free man (the Latin liber means free) in contrast to the artes illberalis or artes mechanicae, which were pursued for economic purposes and involved vocational and practical arts which prepared young persons to become weavers, blacksmiths, farmers, hunters, navigators, solider or doctors.”
" … [T]he more broadly educated we are, the better we are able to place new and specialized knowledge within a larger mosaic and to ask creative questions within our discipline from a range of alternative perspectives." Source here.

The nations whose children cannot think are doomed to repeat the history of civilizations which have disappeared because of cultural implosion owing to a sell-out of liberties to the State. The barbarians are within the gates.