Recommended Article: Scott Samuelson’s “Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers”
Recommended: Scott Samuelson’s recent piece in The Atlantic, “Why I Teach Plato to Plumbers”
(Thanks to fellow writer Matthew Graybosch for sending me the link.)
The humanities do matter to real people. Profoundly. Samuelson writes about teaching philosophy to students experiencing personal tragedy:
A mother who’d authorized for her crippled son a risky surgery that led to his death once asked me with tears in her eyes, “Is Kant right that the consequences of an action play no role in its moral worth?”
The problem is that average people, the “plumbers” Samuelson teaches, are increasingly being denied access to the best that has been thought and said. Education budgets are decimated. The wealthy pay for their own children to attend elite universities and “dress themselves in cultural capital” (i.e. liberal arts study) while everyone else is encouraged to view education’s value purely in terms of utilitarian job preparation. As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, and as Samuelson argues, this state of affairs bodes ill for a democracy.
Samuelson reminds us that, “We don’t intellectually embrace a society where the privileged few get to enjoy the advantages of leisure and wealth while the masses toil on their behalf. Yet that’s what a sell-out of the liberal arts entails.”
He got that right. Worth a read.