19.5.09

in defense of the liberal arts

http://edurhetor.files.wordpress.com/2008/07/800px-marten_de_vos_seven_liberal_arts.jpg

Lane Wallace:
In an increasingly global economy and world, more than just technical skill is required. Far more challenging is the ability to work with a multitude of viewpoints and cultures. And the liberal arts are particularly good at teaching how different arguments on the same point can be equally valid, depending on what presumptions or values you bring to the subject. The liberal arts canvas is painted not in reassuring black-and-white tones, but in maddening shades of gray.
What's the "right" solution to the conflict in Sudan? What was Shakespeare's most important work and why? Was John Locke right in his arguments about personal property? Get comfortable with the ambiguities inherent in a liberal arts education, and you're far better equipped to face the ambiguities and differing viewpoints in a complex, global world. (The late David Foster Wallace expanded on this point in his acclaimed 2005 Kenyon College commencement address, which, if you missed it at the time, is worth taking the time to read.)

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