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Liberal Learning

1 115

What strikes me is that the capacity to choose to do things for their own sakes defines a free people. The highest arts of the mind, most freely pursued, as our whole tradition has recognized until lately, are paradoxically the most useful of all...
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I'm uncertain of the joy of reading the Theban plays of Sophocles—the story is just too monstrous—but in accord with the awe. This translation conveys it... Sophocles: The Theban Plays, translated by David R. Slavitt (256 pages, Yale University Press, 2009)
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I was recently asked by a student group at my university to participate in a panel discussion about the humanities. Having been asked the rather loaded question, “why are the humanities needed more now than ever?,” the panelists were...
3 365

No matter what you do, no matter what precautions you take, you could always be a little safer. In fact, we seem to live in a culture that values safety above nearly everything else. It is practically our obsession...
0 447

One of our most remarkable capabilities is our power of at once being and not being in a certain condition. It gives us a way to do justice both to self-avowed fictions and to other people’s truths... Our country’s three...
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When we learn math, we are using our mind alone, not our senses. Socrates calls it a study that “by nature leads to intellection"... It is a common occurrence: A math teacher stands at the front of...
1 710

Jane Austen's world is as merry as it is good. All the novels are perfect comedies—mirthful throughout and happy in outcome. Despite their brightness and lightness, these novels are in no way trivial—they are simply not concerned with those terrific follies presented to the...
4 918

A result of the fact-or-opinion training is that two categories are created in the mind of the student: things that are true, and things that are neither true nor false.  Essentially, the fact-or-opinion curriculum is first-rate training for thinking relativistically...
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Plato's Republic: A Study by Stanley Rosen (432 pages, Yale University Press, 2008) Plato's Republic, Stanley Rosen says at the beginning of his book, is "both excessively...

Michio Kaku has made a name for himself as a world-leading theoretical physicist unafraid to speak his mind. Dr. Kaku, the Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in theoretical physics at the City College of New York, has published more than...
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The work of editors and commentators is not only an interesting historical curiosity. Though the task of liberating important texts—whether from the dustbin of history, the barricade of a foreign language, or both—goes on behind the scenes and is often thankless, it is indispensable. For without it,...
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If one cannot hope for an informed citizenry—and the evidence is overwhelming that such a hope is futile—one must hope for something else: a formed citizenry. For the remedy for thoughtlessness is not information; it is thought, thought about what man is, what the good man is,...
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Any talk of saving culture, or restoring culture, begins with a defense of the humanities. Any hope of cultural revival equally begins with a re-emergence of the humanities. Any hope to truly celebrate—though not uncritically—the human person rests with being drenched in the dewfall of the humanities...

Thomas Jefferson is a kind of incarnate compendium of the Enlightenment. His remarkable openness to its spirit is the philosophical counterpart to his political sensitivity in making himself "a passive auditor of the opinions of others," so as to catch the "harmonizing sentiments of the day" and...