Keep Education Useless!

What is education for?  At Front Porch Republic today we find a stirring call to keep education useless.

Thaddeus Kozinski laments the contemporary tendency to ask what purpose a college education will serve.  Not that one can’t learn a trade or profession in college, Kozinski argues, but that is not higher education’s main purpose.  “The end, goal, or use of liberal education,” Kozinski insists, “is not found in anything outside of the study itself.”

Kozinski doesn’t ask readers to take his word for it.  He claims the support of thinkers from across the centuries, including Simone Weil, Robert Hutchins, Cicero, Plato, Josef Pieper, Aristotle, Cardinal Newman, and St. Augustine.

Education must be about learning itself.

As Kozinski puts it,

to say that all education must be ordered to use in the work-a-day world, is to imply that there is nothing that transcends, that we are trapped in the realm of the temporal, material, and instrumental. And this is to make human happiness not an end but a means, bound to whatever we can use from this world, bodily pleasure, emotional satisfaction, wealth, honor, power, and the like. These are legitimate goods, of course, and education can help us obtain these goods. But unless there is a transcendent reason for pursuing these goods, unless this work-a-day world is seen for what it is, a means and never an end, then we end up making a means our of an end, and an end out of a means, and we thus make human happiness, and concomitantly, true education, impossible.



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