Friday, December 2, 2022

Irrelevant subjects

From Patrick Kurp's blog post today, on the value of a liberal education:
At the library I found a posthumously published collection of essays and articles by Roger Scruton, Against the Tide (ed. Mark Dooley, Bloomsbury, 2022). Included is a column Scruton wrote in 1983 for The Times, “The Virtue of Irrelevance.” It’s a bracing assault on the ongoing trivialization of education, now underway for more than half a century. Universities have turned into nursery/vocational schools. Scruton is ever the genteel contrarian in his defense of the humanities:
The more irrelevant a subject, the more lasting is the benefit that it confers. Irrelevant subjects bring understanding of the human condition, by forcing the student to stand back from it. They also enhance the appetite for life, by providing material for thought and conversation. This is the secret which civilisation has guarded: that power and influence come through the acquisition of useless knowledge.
Scruton dismisses such fashionable silliness as “women’s studies” and concludes:
The value of such a subject is precisely that it destroys education. It keeps the student's mind so narrowly focused on his random and transient political convictions that, when he ceases to be obsessed with them, he will lack the education through which to discover what to put in their place.
Patrick Kurp, "The Acquisition of Useless Knowledge," Anecdotal Evidence, Dec. 2, 2022.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.