Just came across a great essay on the end of education and thinking. It’s over at Humane Pursuits, a website I just learned about, which features some of the nicest aesthetics I’ve seen on a website.
Here’s what Liz Horst had to say about intelligence and its ends:
We tend to see everything backwards. You don’t read Homer to become smart; you become smart so that you can enjoy Homer. Intelligence is not a concrete good on its own. It is merely the capacity to understand, and perhaps to enjoy.
This is a needed point. The life of the mind matters. Personal formation matters. Giving students, children, friends an interest in thinking well matters. Discovering the excitement of intellectual formation is one of the surest roads to knowledge, pleasure and virtue alike.
We are in a brave new moment culturally, though. If colleges and universities miss that the inflated-debt party is soon going to end, and that they need to show the value of the education they provide, some of our most valued disciplines and programs of study will suffer. That’s not a good thing, though colleges are by no means the only environ in which to entice others to love thinking and to prize intelligence, intellectual, moral, spiritual, and otherwise.