The Liberal Arts as a Way of Life – In Search of Public and Private Virtue
What’s more, the political argument tends to mistake serious practice in the liberal arts for the completion of courses. There is much to be learned about politics from Cicero and Tocqueville, to mention only two names. But learning what they have to teach requires a lifetime of careful reading. A course in Western Civ just won’t cut it.
Like the first position, this argument contains much truth. But it doesn’t shed much guidance on how much of their limited resources individuals, families, and governments should devote to formal instruction in the liberal arts. Perhaps reading Homer or Shakespeare does make one a better father. But is it essential to get a degree in Classics or English to achieve those benefits? Again, the focus is on the liberal arts as a permanent feature of one’s life. Formal instruction at the college level is not a sufficient condition of that commitment–and may not even be a necessary one.