Summary

.. he Uses of a Liberal Education in that Descartes is very anti-educational. His ideas depend on the individual, and not the community.

His ideas directly counter those of Blanshard. Blanshard says, when speaking of the arguments against a liberal education, that “a liberal education calls for a great outlay in time, money, and effort, for which little or nothing useful is gained in return.” (p. 124). For this, Descartes would definitely find himself in agreement.

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First of all, Descartes would claim that the education received through the liberal arts relies upon the thoughts and experiences of others, rather than the truth as “I”, an individual, has observed. Descartes says, “I learned not to believe anything too firmly of which I had been persuaded only by example and custom.” (Descartes, p. 6). Therefore, according to Descartes, the money and time spent on a liberal education is a waist. Descartes feels that through self-introspection, which is free, one finds truth and knowledge. He feels that one can not rely on the thoughts of philosophers, theologians, or any other learned person.Their knowledge is just that, their knowledge, not anothers.

However, along with this idea of relying on others knowledge, Descartes also says, “it is good to have examined all these disciplines [science, jurisprudence, and medicine], even the most superstition-ridden and the most false of them, in order to know their true worth and to guard against being deceived by them.” (Descartes, p. 4). Although Descartes appears to be set in his mind that all knowledge should be derived from oneself, he acknowledges the fact that having and understanding of this knowledge can help us not to be deceived. This is a slight contradiction that allows some room for support of Blanshards ideas. Through this, he concedes the fact that this education might actually be worth something in the end.

Maybe the time was well spent. One point, which would strongly be supported by a great mind like Plato, is utterly loathed by one like Descartes. “Indeed many things remain simply invisible till we see them through others eyes.” (p. 130) is a statement that contradicts Descartes path. Descartes feels that in accepting the thoughts of all those before us, i.e.

Plato, John Locke, Sartre, Augustine, Mohammed, Jesus, and the many more great minds of history, all of which have differing opinions, we lose a battle. In looking to another for our own betterment of mind, we already have made up our minds. It is a waist of time for us to seek and accept those thoughts of others. He says that in his own method, he “never accepts anything as true that he did not plainly know to be such.” (Descartes, p.

11).In defense of a liberal education Blanshard says, “the mind that wants to know can find fascination along a hundred avenues.” With this, Descartes can definitely agree.

Descartes feels that his method is not necessarily the greatest. Descartes, himself says that “my purpose here is not to teach the method that everyone ought to follow in order to conduct his reason well, but merely to show how I have tried to conduct my own.” (Descartes, p.

2). Descartes, in this instance, claims that through the use of different highways, one can reach the same destination in the same amount of time. Descartes is a man who is set in his ways, but also one who leaves room for differences.He is not hardheaded, but there are ideas, which he is unable to change or reach middle ground upon. He is extremely insistent on self-introspection, which leads to greater knowledge and truth. However, his method is not always the greatest for all, and therefore he leaves room for differences.

Descartes would appear to be against Blanshards view that a liberal education is useful because of his views on organized education. He feels that through organized education one is deceived with the thoughts and reasoning of many different people. He feels that one can never come to his own conclusion without being pestered into a certain frame of mind by a specific philosopher or theologian. Personal Analysis I, on a personal level find Blanshards essay true and honest as to the benefits and usefulness of a liberal education. I feel that an education in the liberal arts offers a person a well rounded mind, something not often found in this society.This society is often times much too closed-minded. And this is evident in the absence of considering hearts. The liberal education offers someone many different methods of finding the truth for oneself, and I believe, without any doubt, that the truth can be different for all.

A liberal education provides its students with knowledge of past mistakes, future advice, and other ideas, which play to the heart of each human being. Although enormous amounts of money are spent on an education that might not bring forth the most attractive pay check, it offers “comfort and richness of mind” (p. 125), a priceless attribute.

How many people can say, at the end of the day they are happy? How many can even say they are satisfied? People, nowadays, are so often in a hurry to make that next dollar, to even degrade their neighbor in order to accomplish that feat. At the end of the day they may have that dollar, but they often times lack a sense of acceptance among others, according to many to be one of the greatest gifts in the world.People who study in order to have a profession seek that profession as their end. They treat people as a means to get to that end, their profession and the dollar bill that it accompanies. Who is to say that because a liberal education does not bring home the almighty dollar, it does not offer satisfaction? It offers satisfaction in itself, as Blanshard says. One point made by Blanshard that holds great weight with myself is when he says, “Indeed many things remain simply invisible till we see them through others eyes.

” (p.130). In taking others advise, we open our doors more fully to the truth.Many people have lived similar lives to our own. Many people have experienced certain situations we might be in the midst of. Many people offer a different perspective that might help us more fully understand the entire picture. Through other peoples eyes, our eyes can become much clearer. Another great benefit of the liberal education is brought forth when Blanshard says, “if his thought and feeling are affected, so surely will his action be.

” (p. 133).Therefore, through a liberal education, which provides its students with ideas of philosophy and theology, ones personal actions might become more reverent. Through the study of a man like Jesus Christ, although it will not fatten ones pocket, might lead to greater satisfaction through actions. In this, I am saying that when one treats another with respect and love, often times those same sentiments are returned. Love begets love, just like violence begets violence. If seeing things more clearly through philosophy or theology can change ones actions; perhaps ones life will be changed for the better.

Although I agree with much of what Blanshard says, I must part with the idea that a liberal education “directly satisfies some of out elemental hungers.” (p.125).This specific idea is absolutely absurd. The gift of any education is strictly that, a gift. It satisfies no basic hunger.

There is no basic hunger, to know. The third world is filled with people whose basic hungers are not met everyday.People lack food, clothing, and shelter, the things which the city is formed to provide. A young child, starving to death and dying of malaria, is not attempting to fulfill his basic need for knowledge. He is hoping to survive the next day. Knowledge is nowhere near a basic need.

It is a luxury reserved for the wealthy in all states.A higher education can only be afforded by those with money. They are not seeking to fulfill something without which they will die. A liberal education is a gift, nothing more. For the most part, I strongly agree with Blanshard that a liberal education is extremely useful, despite the critics and their desire for money.

A liberal education offers a comfort of mind that can not be touched by the sharpest sword or the strongest man.A liberal education, through the knowledge derived, is a lifelong gift of happiness and freedom.