Philosophizing on philosophy


My limited knowledge of schools of philosophy, and of philosophers, is largely self taught. Much like my theology and history, for that matter. I learned about Descartes and Blaise Pascal be reading the Time-Life book on mathematics. As a child, I listened to a lot of Broadway musicals on vinyl ( my mom was a fan, but we were perennially broke). I remember listening to "The Music Man", and hearing a song about Marion the librarian.
He left River City the library building but he left all the books to her. Chaucer, Balzac, Rabelais.
At the age of nine I found those names absolutely fascinating. I asked my mom why the town gossips were so scandalized by those authors, and she suggested that I grab the books out of our Great Books set and read them for myself. I tried, but honestly I was too naive to understand why they should have been scandalous. As a compulsive reader, I tried to read my way through the Great Books but was only partially succesful. I read The Brothers Karamazov when I was sick with strep throat in the 6th grade.
On April 30, dylan had a 'this or that' that included a choice between Wittgenstein or Husserl. My formal studies of philosophy and philosophers was limited to a single class in Logic (why is that a branch of philosophy and not of mathematics?). All I know about Wittgenstein can be found in Monty Python's Philosopher's Song. Wittgenstein was a beery swine, it says. Husserl? who is that? I learned about Voltaire in High School, in French V, when we had to read Candide in the original French. Science fiction introduced me to names like Schroedinger and Heisenberg, so I looked them up and read and learned what I could.
I went to school at a time before the most current dumbing down of education, but I still ended up having to take a lot of initiative to get a broad based education. Even though I have a liberal arts degree (BA in Literature) as well as my nurse-midwifery credentials (MS in Nursing), I found that so-called higher education was all too often focused strictly on job preparation. I am seriously concerned about the lack of education that the next two generations have received. Grammar and rhetoric have been slighted in favor of so-called 'self-expression'. I wonder how effectively one can express one's self if the other cannot understand the language or syntax. History has been revised to meet political agendas. Foreign languages are taught so late in the educational process that it is a wonder anyone is able to reach any level of fluency. Mathematics is also sloughed off.
I precept medical residents - by the time I get them, they have had at least 8 years of formal higher education (often more) and one year of internship. They are bright, thoughtful, and among the top 2% of the population in test-taking skills. They are personable, intelligent, and woefully ignorant. They do not often have any awareness of the history of their profession. They have limited understanding of how various technology developed and how it has an impact on them and their patients. I know many engineers. They have spent often years developing the specialized knowledge for their profession, and have never learned the basics of the Liberal Arts that have been the foundation of our society and culture.
I realize now that I have not done what I should for my children, in terms of helping them to become truly educated. Like so many others, I trusted the system of education, public and private. I assumed that because I did for myself, that they could do likewise. I can do only what I can now, and I will keep trying. I encourage others whose children are younger or not even born yet, to start now to educate yourselves so that you can educate your children.

February 2013

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on May 4, 2003 6:27 PM.

Music and Morality was the previous entry in this blog.

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