Need Another Use for a Liberal Arts Education 1

We’ve discussed earlier that Socrates, one of the finest matters to come out of Athens, hated Athenian democracy. While he had many reasons to achieve this, one of the number one became that the standard Athenian had no idea what they had been discussing and had been prone to using emotion over cause when making important political selections. They lacked both the competencies for important thinking and viewing the world outdoor their personal attitude to be proper democratic citizens.

But, as philosopher Martha Nussbaum argues, we can keep away from one’s problems by placing an excessive value on schooling within the humanities. A high cost which today is frequently difficult to locate.

In her e-book Not for Profit, Why Democracy Needs the Humanities, Nussbaum lays out the case that a task-orientated training, one focused on getting ready students for work, is a long way from sufficient to assure that the students will also be able to feature as democratic residents in a pluralistic, current, and globalized, society.


While she doesn’t deny the want for technical schooling; she argues that an in simple terms job orientated schooling, or maybe one which is tremendously centered on a narrow discipline of examination, does now not sell the improvement of important wondering talents, the ability to don’t forget differing viewpoints, the expertise of human beings hugely special from themselves, or strong techniques for finding reality for themselves that human beings want as residents.


She argues these abilities are nicely observed in the arts and arts as promoted by using liberal arts training in any respect tiers. While the United States is doing nicely at the college stage of teaching this stuff, she contests that we’re often unwilling or unable to do so at the grade faculty or high school degree. If we do not assure students have to get entry to the arts and arts, she posits that we are probably to fall suffer to demagoguery and lose the blessings of a current democratic society.

Well, what’s wrong with our current technique of coaching the humanities? Why write an entire e-book on this?

A foremost issue in modern-day American schooling she discusses is the growing use of standardized fill within the bubble checks and the tendency of teachers to “train to the take a look at.” It isn’t possible to teach the arts in a way that can be without problems examined, the treatment of philosophy as a check difficulty for the A and O level assessments inside the United Kingdom has proven that much, but Nussbaum indicates to us how a more than one-preference check is not likely to encourage any capabilities aside from the regurgitation of records. They aren’t even that properly at what they claim to do besides.

With the countrywide consciousness being given to schooling for employment and competitiveness, those components of schooling that seem unlikely to lead to employment are the maximum easy to justify cuts. Nussbaum laments this and notes that advertising and marketing geared closer to new college students at her very own college focuses almost completely on those packages visible as practical and main to employment. She dubs the combination of investment cuts and the shortage of interest a “crisis of big proportions” which continues to be underway.

Suppose we got rid of the humanities. Can’t we be free people without them?


The myriad examples of tyrants attacking the arts and humanities show we are probably wise to maintain directly with them. She cites, among other activities, the prohibition of coaching the Korean language in public schools and the crackdown on Confucian training in widespread at some stage in Korea’s profession via Imperial Japan. All a key part of the plan to reduce the Korean people to Japanese imperialism servants was a position that did not need non-technical training.

Nussbaum later argues that the maximum cartoonish and regularly frightening mistakes made by using the Athenian democracy, which induced thinkers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle to reject democracy, might have been without problems averted if the populace had any of the abilities schoolings inside the humanities affords.

As depicted in The Republic, Socrates favored intensive training for the logician kings he noticed as the appropriate rulers of his utopia. While his proposed curriculum is not the liberal arts training Americans realize these days, it’s miles one that promotes the look for truth with the usage of cause and logic and assures that the metropolis nation’s leaders will understand not best how to lead. Still, the way to technique the troubles they may face as leaders. While he didn’t want the general public to lead a nation, it is clear he understood that people who do lead need to have sure intellectual skills. In a democracy, those leaders are the people.

Aldous Huxley, logician, creator of Brave New World, and noted psychonaut, made a comparable commentary in Brave New World, Revisited. He mentioned with terror that the sector became shifting in the direction of his dystopia tons quicker than he had anticipated and proposed education for democracy as a key tool to prevent this. He later elaborated on his proposed curriculum for loose people in his utopian work Island.

Okay, what does our scenario seem like now?

We presently have a better schooling machine than Athens’ human beings, who ended their formal schooling in adolescence and denied it to ladies and non-residents. Often inspired with the aid of Socrates and his pedagogy, these days’ college students can find humanistic training inside the American, Scottish, and (increasingly more) Korean education systems devoted to creating them absolutely rounded people and citizens.


While Nussbaum warns us to be looking out for attacks on and monetary cutbacks to the liberal arts version of schooling, we have the purpose of being constructive as nicely. She mentions many exquisite packages in American faculties, including Future Problem Solvers, as examples of democratic education done efficiently and in a manner that assures persevered aid.