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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/3/10

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

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In any event, I am inclined to think that Socrates' famous quip about the unexamined life not being worth living is a gloss on the ODYSSEY.

Now, in the past certain people have described liberal arts education, or humanities education, as involving learning for the sake of learning, as distinct from learning for the sake of making a living. This is an understandable distinction. But why in the world should we want to learn something for the sake of learning it? To show ourselves that we are capable of learning it, which should bolster our confidence in ourselves as learners.

When we learn something for the sake of making a living from it, we might have to consider that life may not work out as we have planned it. To be sure, we would in such circumstances be able to fall back on our professional learning as a source of confidence in our ability to learn whatever it is going to take for us to cope with the twists and turns that life is throwing us.

But liberal arts education, or humanities education, says, "Forget about your professional learning. Instead, plan for the twists and turns of life. Learn how to learn, and you'll be well prepared for the twists and turns of life"

But if you want to play it safe, you can hedge your bets and try to get a mix of the two:

(1) professional training and (2) liberal arts education, or humanities education.

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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; 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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