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ERIC Number: EJ1072092
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0748-8475
The Truth about Liberal Arts
Waggoner, Matt
Thought & Action, p5-14 Sum 2015
Skills, jobs, and even self-enrichment were not historically regarded as the ultimate goals of the liberal arts; they were byproducts. The reason liberal arts education was called "liberal" in the first place was because it was supposed to cultivate a free human being. Education on the liberal model aimed to liberate. The goal of liberal learning goes beyond knowing what's out there, how it functions, and how to function within it. The liberal learner is searching for truths that aren't always compatible with known procedures and the realities they administer on a daily basis. In this paper, the author, an associate professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, argues that liberal learning doesn't reach its satisfactory conclusion in an accommodating disposition that avoids judgment by default. Acquiring an expanded horizon isn't simply about acknowledging the plurality of bodies and languages. It's also about considering what's true about the plethora, positing claims, and making judgments that have to do with what's infinite amid the finite flux of details and distinctions encountered in daily life. The search for truth in all its dimensions should clear the way for open thought, which means it shouldn't be shackled to what there is. Open thought opens the world to possibilities that have been denied by closed systems, closed procedures, and closed languages. While truth might be unreal and unrealistic right now, its realization depends on the willingness of subjects/students to announce, name, and enunciate truth events, and to be faithful to what currently seems groundless or absurd. None of which has a chance of happening as long as the search for truth is reduced to "thinking critically" about what's empirically and observably "there," or when the search is reduced to the narcissistic act of subjectively digesting the world's problems within the private cosmoses of our own paths to self-enlargement. Critical thinking and self-enlargement are valuable tools and byproducts of a liberal arts education, but they can and do serve a purpose that is difficult to describe in any other way than ideological. By teaching students how to function within--and become well adjusted to--a world beyond which it is assumed there are no other possibilities, education isn't acting as a source of liberation; it's acting as a source of legitimation.
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site: http://www.nea.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A