C.S. Lewis on The Liberal Arts

If education is beaten by training, civilization dies.

–C.S. Lewis

Gregory Dunn–The first reason we study the liberal arts has to do with freedom. That freedom is an integral part of the liberal arts is borne out of Lewis’s observation that “liberal comes of course from the Latin, liber, and means free.” Such an education makes one free, according to Lewis, because it transforms the pupil from “an unregenerate little bundle of appetites” into “the good man and the good citizen.” We act most human when we are reasonable, both in thought and deed. Animals, on the other hand, act wholly out of appetite. When hungry, they eat; when tired, they rest. Man is different. Rather than follow our appetites blindly we can be deliberate about what we do and when we do it. The ability to rule ourselves frees us from the tyranny of our appetites, and the liberal arts disciplines this self-rule. In other words, this sort of education teaches us to be most fully human and thereby, to fulfill our human duties, both public and private.

Lewis contrasts liberal arts education with what he calls “vocational training,” the sort that prepares one for employment. Such training, he writes, “aims at making not a good man but a good banker, a good electrician… or a good surgeon.” Lewis does admit the importance of such training—for we cannot do without bankers and electricians and surgeons—but the danger, as he sees it, is the pursuit of training at the expense of education. “If education is beaten by training, civilization dies,” he writes, for the “lesson of history” is that “civilization is a rarity, attained with difficulty and easily lost.” It is the liberal arts, not vocational training, that preserves civilization by producing reasonable men and responsible citizens….

A third reason we study the liberal arts is because it is simply our nature and duty. Man has a natural thirst for knowledge of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, and men and women of the past have made great sacrifices to pursue it in spite of the fact that, as Lewis puts it, “human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice.” In his words, “they propound mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds.” So, finding in the soul an appetite for such things, and knowing no appetite is made by God in vain, Lewis concludes that the pursuit of the liberal arts is pleasing to God and is possibly, for some, a God-given vocation…. Truly, we ignore the liberal arts only at our peril. Without them we will find ourselves increasingly unable to preserve a civilized society, to escape from the errors and prejudices of our day, and to struggle in the arena of ideas to the glory of God.

On Principle from the John M. Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs (April 1999, Vol. VII, No. 2).

Cognitive Liberty & Neuroethics Course

Brief Description of the Course

Questions concerning freedom and coercion have played a fundamental role in the development of our society; the rapid flow of technological advances that we are experiencing often overtakes society’s ability to consider their implications in depth. Freedom and personal identity are being challenged on numerous fronts, and it is crucial that these issues be explored in a time when one’s perception of self identity may be bought, sold and manipulated in numerous ways. Cognitive Liberty may be defined as “the right of each individual to think independently, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in multiple modes of thought,” and is the basis of the rights conferred by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The course engages students in an engaging investigation of the ethics and implications of current social trends and practices affecting freedom of thought and mental autonomy, and covers topics including philosophy, technology, law, drugs, media, surveillance and academic freedom. [LINK]

Tune Out and Turn On!

The disaffection, disunity and collapse of the humanist State by grace of rugged individualism, personal determinism, self-will, imagination, and personal creativeness, will be your aim.

  • Be the virus.
  • Be the germ.
    • Spread.
    • Misalign.
  • Resist radical change.

Tune your hearing so that you are able to identify psychopolitics when you are confronted with it. Hone your senses such that when in your respective environments you are subject to preconditioning by operant mechanisms for acceptance of radical change, you recoil fundamentally. Shrug your shoulders when crises of ‘major’ importance are foisted upon the public at large. Roll your eyes when catastrophes are manufactured for your community. You must inoculate yourselves against The Politics of Change (TPOC). ‘Change’ will be a dirty word to you. Yours will be a moral and ethical standard hoisted against a State that aims to disinform, mislead, manage, control your destiny, and irrevocably alter your cherished values, attitudes and beliefs..

The Cartographers

World maps, the tool of power politics and military intelligence, project proportional distortions of n-dimensional space onto the plane for propaganda purposes. Maps not only offer an abstract view of the world itself but also contain information about those who create them. This becomes particularly obvious with old maps. If we want to find out from which perspective the world is presented, we just have to look for the center of representation.

Becker

Lex Naturalis and Gift Culture

Our system is one in which experience is conditional and contingent—conditional and contingent upon conformance to relative customs and statutory rights.

Privilege issues from coercive Powers that observe statutory rights.

It is imperative that we distinguish between privilege, which is the outcome of a transaction, and the gift, which is voluntary. While privilege is implied debt to a coercive Power, the tribute one symbolically pays in the act of gift-giving is self-reflexive: the gift cannot be brokered; the gift is immune from debt; the gift cannot be loaned at interest; the gift is neither a liability nor an obligation; the gift is not capital.

The act of gift-giving issues from natural law, and hence is inalienable, universal and incoercible.

✖ From the Novel, Orchard Park and Other Works