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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rousseau and Our Selfish Age (Revised)

In July 2012, I posted the following:  The lead essay today on Arts and Letters Daily is "What would Rousseau make of our selfish age?" by Terry Eagleton in the Guardian.  The main point the author wanted to make was that Rousseau would be shocked by today's educational institutions, because they have moved away from the ideal of developing people capable of critical thinking across a broad range of issues and ideas.  Instead they are concentrating on "education" to serve the narrow interests of capital. On the way to making his point, Eagleton gives us a tour of Rousseau's thinking, the kind of liberal ideas that would give Mitch McConnell et al apoplexy.  If you have time to read the essay, keep questions like this in the back of your mind:  Why would anyone oppose universal healthcare?
Recently someone accessed this piece, and I took a look myself, since I couldn’t remember what was in there.  I read the Guardian article again and liked it just as much as the first time.  Then I read the comments, which weren’t available the first time around.  I was appalled.  Virtually all of them were negative.  The constant theme throughout was that the only legitimate purpose of an education is to prepare one to do some specific kind of job.  So much for creative thinking or any kind of creativity.  It’s to be a brave new world in which our only purpose is to produce stuff.  If that’s really the way it’s going to be, I’m glad I’ve lived most of my life already, and I am distressed about the prospects for my grand children.

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