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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/3/10

Not For Profit, Eh? Hold on There, Martha Nussbaum!

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Put differently, the unexamined life leads one to lose one's soul and not find it even if one gains all the wealth in the world.

Thus liberal arts education, or humanities education, is for profit. Its benefit is to learn how to live an examined life, instead of living an unexamined life.

Next, I want to discuss a certain point that Walter J. Ong, S.J (1912-2003) liked to make. He repeatedly made the point that we need both closeness (proximity) and distance to understand something, including presumably understanding ourselves.

By virtue of growing up in American culture today, we Americans bring our American cultural conditioning with us wherever we go. We might liken our American cultural conditioning to a portable prison-cage in which we move around wherever we may happen to go. Our American cultural conditioning is thus the closeness dimension of our lives.

Liberal arts education, or humanities education, provides us with the distance dimension that we need for understanding our cultural heritage and our cultural conditioning.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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