Why the West is No Longer Educated

With its precision and focus on the true, the beautiful and the good, the classical culture of reasoning is at the core of our tradition and—as Tocqueville notes—a “useful” corrective to democracy’s tendency for haste and superficiality. That is something worth restoring

Education seems universally—and almost self-evidently—supported as a Good Thing. Few would argue that a liberal democracy could do without literate citizens. Fewer still that a modern economy could do without a skilled workforce. Accordingly, spending on education is higher than ever. But what does it mean to be educated?

At present, education seems understood primarily as coursework in vocational topics, and “useful” natural and social sciences. There is a lot to be said for such education, as individuals need to be prepared to make a living. But there is also reason for concern. It is not obvious how well the “useful” courses prepare students for the world of work. Moreover, knowledge of the foundations of our culture, prerequisites of liberal democracy and fundamental assumptions in science is transmitted haphazardly or not at all. Individuals are hence increasingly clueless about our civilisation and their responsibilities. It is also unlikely for university graduates to have even basic familiarity with the history and philosophy of their disciplines, leaving many without critical distance from the fashionable views of the day. This sits ill with democratic citizenship, innovation and a dynamic, entrepreneurial economy.

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  • FactsWillOut

    Fascinating, but written by someone with only a very superficial understanding of science. Superficial and flawed;
    “In contrast, as we are unable to reduce human action to organic chemistry (much as we have been unable to reduce chemistry to physics),…”
    Actually, we can reduce chemistry to physics.
    “Of course, if a physics, chemistry or even biology of society were possible, there would be no choices to be made!”
    In fact, deterministic chaos, even without quantum uncertainty, leads to choices that make vast differences in outcome.

    It is folk like this author (with his use of flawed reasoning and woolly minded thinking) that are responsible for cybernetics taking over from philosophy.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    I predict that more and more serious seekers of advanced knowledge will turn to online universities as a cost effective, low bullshit way of attaining their educational goals.

  • stubb

    It should be blindingly obvious to anyone with a functioning neuron that the essence of contemporary Leftist thought is an obsessive laser-like focus on the false, the ugly, and the bad, and on how to forcibly substitute them for every possible traditional value, and even impossible traditional value (see: Bruce Jenner, etc.). We’re talking Khmer Rouge Year Zero here.

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  • Hard Little Machine

    First the colleges implode, then we full all our jobs with people educated overseas. When we run out of those people we stop hiring people here. No worries