tricky reflections here
ALSO: Happy Birthday to JOHN PRESNALL!
“When I say “remember we just said,” they know it’s because I’m saying something different”
President Obama likes to use the same technique (though for different purposes).
Thanks for the birthday shout out!
I like your take on Socratic education being attentive to various “learning styles” as being attentive to differences of character.
I also like your beguiling take on the Socratic method in the classroom, i.e., it’s usually BS, even if it’s done sincerely. Pure dialectics will get you kicked out of the conference room/party/bar/household/legislative assembly/blogosphere–or classroom–faster than you can ask “What is…?”
Like Pete, I appreciate your remarks on the importance of irony in education. Let’s just call attention to the importance of rhetoric, and hope students get the joke. Can a teacher teach the student to recognize the difference between what is learned in the classroom and what a president may say and do on occasion–let alone what they may ordinarily find regarding what is said and done in the workplace situation? I don’t know. This doesn’t mean there is nothing worth teaching (or fighting for), but a true understanding that folks may say otherwise than they mean could go a long way toward tempering an otherwise justified ire.
Incongruence, or what Keats called a “negative capability,” or even a “cognitive dissonance” is something that’s not too bad to know about.
Of course, MacIntyre would have it that people in their different formations are incapable of moral reasoning in terms of the common good. And Rawls would say, instead, that we have found the minimum modus vivendi in public reason as an overlapping consensus that excludes certain comprehensive doctrines from having a say.
A Socratic education, to the contrary, would keep alive these deep tensions between what is said and what is done as the fulcrum for a fruitful discussion. Without grandiose expectations, but with a knowledge of what is right (even if in ignorance), that situation could hold out for the potential exhibition of human excellence. As such, what is deepest and most meaningful and beautiful about being human could display itself in terms of the truth. The truth in terms of our deepest longings as personal beings in relation to each other, but also open to the whole larger than ourselves. Let’s call that “larger than” God–a personal God.
But what does all this have to do with education? Well, who would know excellence in action if they had not considered the variety of ways to be excellent, and what other thoughtful people took to be to be a hierarchy of ways to be excellent? A good reading of literature (by which I mean the classics of philosophy, politics, poetry, drama, etc.) with a good professor can provide this examination. It can provide a serious examination of the ends of life.
It must also be said that good laws as well as a stable and historically grounded standard of manners and morals helps too, but that is above my pay grade.
From what I read good education, good professors, good manners, and good laws are not available today.
But this is not entirely true either, as everyone reading this blog can attest to.
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