Saturday, February 18, 2006

Philosophy for life - and work

More stupidity from New Labour; this time from the Higher Education Minister !

"The newspaper reader says: this party will ruin itself if it makes errors like this. My higher politics says: a party which makes errors like this is already finished - it is no longer secure in its instincts."

Friedrich Nietzsche

A. C. Grayling, Professor of philosophy, has to teach him a few elementary lessons:

"Learning about life: What's the point of philosophy? (Discuss)"

"Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister, believes there is nothing wrong with students spurning the study of Philosophy. Not so, says AC Grayling. By learning how to think, graduates can become even more valuable to employers"

The Independent, 17 February 2006

"Bill Rammell, the Education minister, said this week that it was no bad thing if students were dropping philosophy and classics in favour of more vocational courses. Here is why he is wrong.

If you train people to drive buses or operate lathes - the vocational option - you get skilled workers who can do particular jobs. But if you teach people to think, and provide them with wide horizons, they can do many things; they can train and retrain in different positions, they can be flexible and adaptable in exporting their mental skills from one job to another, and in general they can provide their employers and the country at large with the advantage of being an educated, and not merely a trained, workforce.

We are citizens, lovers, friends, parents, consumers, enjoyers of culture, travellers, and much else besides, as well as (and for many more hours a day than) being employees.

In all these respects, the idea of living a life that is satisfying and flourishing, in which we add value to our relationships and bring thoughtfulness to our civic responsibilities, is to the forefront. And it is these things that a broad liberal education fosters. Central to such an education is an opportunity to think about and debate the great questions that lie at the heart of being human.

This is what philosophy is concerned with, and the astonishing growth in recent years of philosophy A-level studies at schools across the country testifies to the intense interest felt by young people in its questions.

How little things change:

"It is necessary, according to Nietzsche, to contain this historical, scientific and professionalizing tendency in university - a tendency that demands swift teaching, deep enough only to transform individuals into efficient servants. These institutions should turn their attention to the problems of culture, or better, the essential questions posed by the human condition."

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

Friedrich Nietzsche


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