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ERIC Number: EJ864323
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0160-7561
Leisure and Liberal Education: A Plea for Uselessness
Jalbert, John E.
Philosophical Studies in Education, v40 p222-233 2009
One cannot promote liberal education and ignore the fundamental tension that exists between leisure and utility. "To aim at utility everywhere," Aristotle writes, "is utterly unbecoming to high-minded and liberal spirits." Thus, the author's plea for leisure, for "uselessness," is a plea for the revitalization of liberal education. The purpose of this essay is to encourage liberal educators to stop "giving" ground, that is, to stop recasting liberal learning as a utilitarian activity in order to meet society's demand for utility and productivity. There will always be people in the academy who will give lip-service to liberal education and then "blink," and, although it is important to call attention to their "blink," it is more important that educators go about their business of introducing students to liberal learning "writ large"; that is to say, liberal learning for its own sake and not for the sake of utilitarian ends. If educators busy themselves with only the latter, their students may learn to write, think critically, and communicate effectively, but they will not have access to the only real evidence there is for the intrinsic value of liberal learning, namely, a cast of people whose lives have been and continue to be informed by liberal education. In order to demonstrate the intrinsic value of liberal learning for the students, educators themselves must embrace and model it in their "deeds," and this means to acknowledge its uselessness and to cease repackaging it for the marketplace. (Contains 31 notes.)
Ohio Valley Philosophy of Education Society. Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A