A few weeks ago, Linda came home from a used bookstore with a few extraordinary discoveries. It was a set of books called Gateway to the Great Books.
You may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with a Revolution in Education and “coming out of the cave?”
The letter to the reader from the time of the set’s publication in 1963 suggested that there were two objects that consume our time: work and distraction in the form of “fun.” The author, Robert Hutchins, went on to clarify that his quarrel was not with fun but the conception of it and its too prominent role among the aims of life. He argues that the trouble with fun is “that it is boring.”
“It is simply not possible to spend more than a certain number of hours, days, weeks, or years having fun. And when the funster looks back over what he has done, he can only sigh and recognize, often too late, his stupidity,” Hutchins asserts.
I saw this firsthand as a financial advisor for 40 years. There is only so much golf, tennis, travel, or bridge one can play before boredom and lack of purpose ensue. One of the primary objectives of financial independence must be engagement in learning and purpose—an idea that few see coming but most eventually learn. Why is this? Hutchins would argue that, unlike for animals, the human mind must be active and engaged to thrive. Absent mental exercise we atrophy, lose purpose, and die sooner than we should.
Hutchins goes on to point out that the greatest human fun is discovery—or as Aristotle taught, “All men by nature desire to know.” He continues, “The most enduring human pleasure is the discovery and rediscovery of possible worlds.” Hutchins quips that he himself is antediluvian, meaning he “lived before the Flood, the flood brought on by Technology, Affluence, and Advertising.”
What does Hutchins mean by this? He is saying that we need to find balance in our lives. This is his invitation to find deeper meaning and purpose to living—to come out of the cave into the light of learning and discovery. To me it further means asking, What is life teaching me these days? Or as I recently rhetorically asked myself and others, “What is the most beautiful thing you have ever learned, discovered, or observed? Why? And how did you know it?”
Hutchins also points out that he and co-editor Mr. Adler had taken the liberty to provide us all with books that speak to every interest and level. We are then invited to the feast with the most interesting people who have ever lived. We can sit side by side with the thoughts that took the Greats decades to discover, only we get to consume them in a few hours.
Over the years I have heard many ask What use is education, learning, or going to school? It depends on what you want. One of the most useless types of education is that which is focused on current knowledge and practices. This type of learning teaches you rote facts or drills. The kind of learning that happens in great books or classics is an understanding of how to think and solve problems. If we want happiness, a life of abundance, or joy we must learn the principles that govern those higher forms of what I might even call enduring fun or unremitting joy.
While on vacation a few weeks ago I was thinking about these three ideas: happiness, joy and the abundant life. I noticed that happiness as Aristotle taught is obtained by conforming our lives to cultivation of the cardinal virtues of courage, justice, temperance and wisdom as applied to principles of happiness. Joy finds greatest meaning when sharing our happiness with others. The abundant life is one where we have discovered our unique and special virtues, gifts or talents and give them all away as we serve others. Abundance is the “Boomerang Principle”—the more we give away the more we receive.
The feast of happiness, joy and abundance with interminable learning is the most fulfilling I have ever attended. My invitation is to invite you to the feast. Become a subscriber to Revolution in Education. Fill your mind, then give it away to others and keep the cycle going for the rest of your life.
To bring you along I have created a complimentary eBook consisting of some of my weekly blogs built around the theme of exiting the cave through unceasing education. It is for those who yearn to leave their circumstances or self-imposed prison or cave. It is designed to help you discover and understand that education and moral virtue can solve the problems and heal the culture of our time.
Welcome home to discovery and interminable learning. It begins with you and me.
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