Donald Linnemeyer's Reviews > The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What it Means to Be an Educated Human Being

The Great Tradition by Richard Gamble
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's review
Jul 08, 12

bookshelves: education

This has a fabulous selection from authors from the classics on. The ECF selections are really helpful in showing how careful the early church was in using pagan classics, and the reformation resources were interesting. Luther, especially. He's always entertaining, and he doesn't disappoint when talking about education (2-3 hour school days, no devil's-dung philosophy, and all for languages and music).

Oh, and it's slightly disappointing that it doesn't have anything prior to Plato, but that's pretty nitpicky, given that it's probably a much wider complaint about "western survey" sorts of books like these.

Last observation: read John Henry Newman's stuff (522ff). Maybe I'm being a little hasty in judgment, but I found it terrible. He essentially argues that liberal arts is exclusively about the intellectual - not virtue, which is defined intellectually for the classics anyway, he says - and specifically intellectual pursuits with no practical benefits. That's exactly what he wanted for British "gentlemen" in the 1800s. Maybe I'm too sensitive to class dynamics, but that really everything he said. It seems a more general problem too with liberal arts education, but rarely ever this blatant and unapologetic.

Brits really do have a remarkable capacity for being total a-holes.

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