We’re now over halfway through the summer reading, and today’s passage provides us with an opportunity to see where we’ve been and to take stock.
Hang around colleges long enough and you are sure to hear the phrases “liberal arts” or “liberal education.” Here liberal isn’t referring to a political philosophy, though sometimes people make jokes about that. Rather, liberal here refers to free people. Like the word liberty, the word liberal comes from the Latin word for freedom. In the past, privileged Greek or Roman men had the freedom to explore education because of work done by lots of other people who did not get that same opportunity, including people who were not politically free. These days, although many people face difficult circumstances, there is hope that the benefits of technology and representative democracy will allow more and more people the opportunity both to experience political freedom as citizens and to educate themselves in ways appropriate to their intrinsic freedom and dignity. A good education helps people live more freely–that is, more in accord with their intrinsic freedom and dignity.
Where in today’s reading does Montaigne bring up themes that we have discussed earlier in the summer reading? How do these themes point to the ways that education can free people’s minds? How do you think that good education can free people’s minds?
(By the way, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have been reading these posts for your interest and for the many and wonderful comments you have left so far!)