Brett Williams's Reviews > A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning

A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning by James V. Schall
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The author, James V. Schall S.J. (1928 Pocahontas, IA-2019 Los Gatos, CA) was professor of political philosophy at Georgetown. This very thin text intends to be casual and easy on the attention span, providing options to our university’s failures where “diversity” influenced by postmodernism have been elevated in education as a priority. Those options are valid books provided in multiple very limited lists which Schall considers censored by our “new-movements” dominating the humanities. It’s the humanities of concern here as concrete results of science and technology are harder to marginalize, though that effort too is underway (see Sandra Harding’s Science Question in Feminism).

Schall does not launch a Philippic and never spells out the source or history of this decay. As a Jesuit he has more than ample horsepower to do so but, apparently, intends to merely raise awareness, not incite. Too bad.

There are gems here, “We should not doubt our minds but our motives. The condition of not knowing should not lead us to a further skepticism but to a more intense search for truth.” And there is humor, as Schall pondered a subtitle, “How To Get An Education Even While Still In College.”

As important as Schall’s tip on the postmodern agendas is, he also cautions about machinery of economic society where nature and the human spirit are eviscerated by product, profit and utility, though again, it’s passive. “The important things, Aristotle told us, are to be known ‘for their own sakes’,” says Schall. A pleasant book, probably well suited for students strongly influenced by blood-chemistry, pop-media, and about to get four-years of sensitivity training if they choose the humanities. With Schall’s help, perhaps they’ll graduate with something worth knowing and a route toward understanding through pursuit of deeper learning after the degree.

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Reading Progress

March 18, 2006 – Started Reading
March 20, 2006 – Finished Reading
March 30, 2020 – Shelved

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