Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Work, Leisure, Liberal Arts and Virtue Part 2

The Liberal Arts
What are the liberal arts? The author explains that its origin is found in the ancient world. Roche writes, "The term has its origin in the medieval concept of artes liberalis, the seven liberal arts that were appropriate for a free man in contrast to the artes illiberalis or artes mechanicae, which were pursued for economic purposes and involved vocational and practical arts, which prepared young persons to become weavers, blacksmiths, farmers, hunters, navigators, soldiers, or doctors." The seven liberal arts were made up of the trivium--grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic--and the quadrivium which was made up of geometry, arithmetic, music, and astronomy. These areas have been expanded in our own time. These liberal arts are sometimes called freeing liberal arts because they are for free people, not slaves. They are also called freeing because they enable us to know the truth. In addition, they are not “simply a body of books to be read, but a way of life enabling us to be free enough to know the truth of things.” Cicero thought of liberal education as the education “of free men for the exercise of their freedom rather than of slaves. Aristotle leaves the impression that education is for the wise use of leisure.”  In a liberal arts education, “in contrast to the specialized orientation of professional or technical curricula, students receive a general education that is a broad grounding in the diverse disciplines." In other words, a liberal arts education is not professional training, technical training, nor training for a career. It is the cultivation of the mind and moral character. An important point to this discussion is that liberal education is an education for persons as persons since humans are more than workers. “It was Cicero who defined the liberal arts as those which are appropriate to humanity. If one is to be anything more than a specialist or technician, if one is to feel life whole and to live it whole rather than piecemeal, if one is to think for himself rather than live secondhand, the liberal arts are needed to educate the person.” This seems to imply educating the whole person.  Aristotle thought that the books we read, the liberal arts themselves, are ultimately designed to teach us to be wise—the highest of the virtues.”

A liberal arts education cultivates the ability of using leisure wisely. Augustine writes, "the love of truth seeks sacred leisure." It is surprising to the modern person that Augustine connects sacred and leisure, but probably not the ancients. Leisure seems to disappear in modernity, even though, technology supposed to give people more free time. Instead, life seems to accelerate with technology and invention. Roche asserts, "Contemporary society has little patience for the apparent idleness of learning for its own sake." Many see the idea of learning for its own sake as beyond belief. They think of doing things for some type of external reward. Roche thinks that liberal arts education "is more than a means to an end; it is a dose of otium (leisure) in a world driven by speed and utility." Liberal arts education teaches how to use leisure wisely and it is acquired through leisure. Mortimer Adler thought that the “end of liberal education lies in the use we make of our leisure, in the activities with which we occupy our leisure time.” There are two kinds of human excellence from leisure: “those private excellences by which a man perfects his own nature and those public excellences which can be translated into the performance of moral or political duty … Hence I would define leisure activities as those activities desirable for their own sake (and so uncompensated and not compulsory) and also for the sake of excellences, private and public, to which they give rise.” Adler thinks that “a good human life is one that is enriched by as much leisure as one can cram into it.” There must be a balance or moderation in our use of leisure. The Puritans affirmed leisure, but they thought it could be pursued in excess. For example, it could take too much of a person’s time, not leaving time for other duties or obligations. This could be said about work too. We can work all the time, leaving no time for leisure pursuits. In some sense, we work to make it possible to pursue leisure activities. To work to have time to “develop ourselves and enrich our relationships in leisure pursuits is a more worthy motivation for work than the urge to acquire more and more things.” A liberal arts education is better than vocational education to prepare for quality work and leisure.
Calling or Vocation
Last, a liberal arts education will help students to develop a higher purpose for life than just personal fulfillment. It seems that students need a meaning and purpose for their life. Roche thinks a student needs an education that focuses "on ends and the value of ideas in the service of the common good." He thinks education "should foster not simply formal skills to gain employment, but a calling that gives our pursuit dignity, higher meaning, and a sense of fulfillment." The Protestant Reformers emphasized the idea of work as a calling. They thought that every Christian “is called by God to serve him.” The Reformers spoke of two calls. The general call is to “conversion and sanctification.” The specific call “consists of the specific job and tasks that God places before us in the course of daily living. It focuses on a person’s occupation, but is not limited to that. It includes one’s work and roles more generally.” Education should help students understand their giftedness and how they can use their gifts in service to others. A liberal education is better than technical, specialized education for preparing us for our callings in life. Luther thought that a liberal arts education prepares for all of one’s callings in life.  John Milton asserts, “a complete and generous education is one that fits a man to perform all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.”  It is liberal schooling that equips one to “do well in all that they might be called to do in life.” In addition, it should help the student to discern his own calling in life.
            A liberal arts education promotes better work and leisure. A liberal arts educated student can draw on the riches of her education throughout her life. The wide exposure to the arts, for example, makes it possible for the student to have a richer life after college. Roche states, "the liberal arts seek to cultivate a love for the life of the mind that can flourish not only on the job but also beyond one's occupation. If work becomes simply a means to make a living, the liberal arts graduate should be able to find a purpose in other realms, beyond work. Such a graduate has more resources at her disposal than someone whose education found its purpose in mastering the technical aspects of a given profession." A liberal arts education cultivates the ability to live a fuller, richer life. It helps one to live the good life. In a sense, it is what sets humans apart from perfectly-programmed robots.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Work, Leisure, Liberal Education, and Virtue Part 1


James V. Schall states that education “is not a thing.” He states that education comes from the word educere which “means to bring forth, or to complete something already begun by the very fact that one is a human being.” In some sense, education is to humanize us, help us to reach our potential as human beings. Many people think a college degree means that one is an educated human being. Mortimer Adler disagreed with this conclusion. He states,
The worst mistake we can possibly make is to suppose that the bachelor of arts degree, honestly earned, signifies that its possessor is an educated man or woman. Nothing could be further from the truth… The reason simply that youth itself—immaturity of mind, character, and experience—is the insuperable obstacle to becoming educated. We cannot educate the young; the best we can do for them is to school them in such a way that they have a good chance to become educated in the course of their life.”

 In a lecture given at Faulkner University a few years ago, John Mark Reynolds stated that there are short-road students and there are long-road students. Short-road students want to get out of college as soon as possible to get to work or start their career. Long-road students see learning as an end in itself. They want to pursue the life of the mind for its own sake. Does this mean that we should have a two-track system with the short-road students given a specialized, technical education and the long-road students given a liberal arts education? This is the wrong conclusion. Both groups need a liberal arts education because it is more effective in promoting better work and leisure than a specialized, technical education.
Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education
Mortimer Adler in an essay, “Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education” argues that the “end of liberal education. . . lies in the use we make of our leisure.” In this essay, he distinguishes between labor and leisure. He believes vocational training is “training for work or labor;” in contrast, liberal education “is education for leisure; it is general in character; it is for an intrinsic and not an extrinsic end; and ultimately it is the education of free men.” Leisure is what people do in their free time. Basically, they spend one third of their time in sleep, one third of their time at work, and one third of their time in leisure pursuits. Adler defines leisure activities as “such things as thinking or learning, reading or writing, conversation or correspondence, love and acts of friendship, political activity, domestic activity, artistic and esthetic activity.” Adler defines education as a “process which aims at the improvement or the betterment of men, in themselves and in relation to society.” A liberal arts education equips “for a life of learning and for the leisure activities of a whole lifetime. Adult liberal education in an indispensable part of the life of leisure, which is a life of learning.”Liberal education will equip students with the tools to be better workers and to use their leisure wisely.
            Adler thinks there are two ways men and women can be improved. First, they can be improved in their functions and talents. Second, they can be improved in the “capacities” and “functions” they share with other humans. These two ways lead to two different kinds of education. One type of education will emphasize training men and women in respect of their similarities with other people. These two types of education can be distinguished as general and specialized education. Adler thinks we can identify specialized education with vocational education and general education with liberal education. “Vocational training is learning for earning. … School is a place of learning for the sake of learning, not for the sake of earning. … Liberal education is learning for its own sake or for the sake of further education. It is learning for the sake of all those self-rewarding activities which include the political, aesthetic, and speculative.” Vocational education is to limited to prepare the student for a lifetime of learning and career mobility.
            If humans were only workers or slaves, it would make sense to receive only vocational education or vocational training. It is more accurate to call it training since that is what it is doing. It is training the worker in specific skills for a particular job. What is the problem with vocational training? Adler would probably say nothing is wrong with it, but that it is better done on the job, not in a school. Schooling is liberal learning which prepares for all the future tasks or callings.
            Adler believes there are “two limited objectives of liberal schooling.” “They are, first, to give the young a measure of competence in the liberal arts, which are nothing but the skills of learning itself—the skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, observing, calculating, and measuring.” He does not mention thinking because that is included in all the specific skills of learning. In addition to “competence in the skills of learning,” a liberal arts education gives the student a preliminary and basic knowledge of universal knowledge. The student is not benefitted by falsely thinking they are educated when they have basically skimmed the surface of knowledge. It is better for them to be informed that they are only laying a foundation that they will build on for the rest of their lives.” It is a false view of liberal education that its purpose is “to turn out educated men and women, this education completed when they are awarded a degree or diploma.” Wisdom is the ultimate goal of a liberal arts education and this takes a lifetime. “Hence if wisdom is the ultimate goal of the whole process of learning, then the process must go on for a lifetime.”
            A second problem with vocational education is that a person will change jobs and careers many times in a lifetime. Many people who graduate in a specific discipline work in another field when they graduate. It seems that a liberal education would serve them better than a vocational education. A liberal education equips the student for “the whole of life; its understandings, skills, and value development bear on a wide range of occupations and equips one for a lifetime of career mobility.”This is in contrast to a vocational education that prepares only for a particular job since the emphasis is not on the development of skills that would be transferable to many vocations.
            The third problem is what people do with their leisure time. Vocational education does not provide the skills needed for pursuing leisurely activities. Since men and women are more than workers, it fails to prepare them for lifelong development. Many people waste their free time on frivolous things that do not improve themselves. I had a friend who had his days free because of a disability; he could not work anymore. However, he could still get around and his mind was still sharp. He was helpful to others, but spent much of his time watching television. I wondered, what if he spent thirty minutes to one hour every day at the library reading on some topic that was interesting to him? What would his life have been like after doing this for thirty years? Maybe, he did not receive the type of education that would have equipped him for this type of learning. A liberal arts education prepares for a wise use of freetime; including the time after retirement.
            A typical question asked by parents and students is what can I do with a liberal arts education. Arthur Holmes believes this is the wrong question. A better question is what will the education do to us. Liberal arts education contributes to many vocations. Holmes states, “The human vocation is far larger than the scope of any job a person may hold because we are human persons created in God’s image, to honor and serve God and other people in all we do, not just in the way we earn a living.” One problem with vocational education is that it subordinates the person to the job and the person is larger than the job. An education “that helps make us more fully persons is especially important to Christians.” Holmes thinks that the question “what do the liberal arts contributes to the making of a person” depends on a “prior” question: “What is a person?” Homes defines person in three ways. “First, a person is a reflective, thinking being.” He uses reflection instead of reasoning to avoid the enlightenment idea of reason. Aristotle asserts, man by nature desires to know, they want to know why things are the way they are. They are inquisitive; they wonder and they imagine, they take things apart and put them back together. Being reflexive also means being analytical. People want to know what gives life meaning, what is true, and how to live one’s life wisely. It is important for the student to seeking understanding, ask questions, to think for themselves. These things are “part of what it means to be human.” To be reflective means to see the relationship of things, how things fit together. To develop intellectually requires the skills of reading and writing. Reading helps us to have “informed conversation.” Writing develops the skill of articulating what we want to communicate. Both of these skills will help us to think for ourselves.
            Second, we are “valuing beings.” Holmes asserts, “We make value judgments and act to realize our values.” Holmes believes values are more than feelings because there is an objectivity to them. In addition, “they are not all relative.” They have a “basis” in our nature as human beings. Third, we are “responsible agents.” We are “accountable” to God on how we live our lives. We must be responsible stewards to all that God has given us. God gives us gifts, abilities, and opportunities. These things will help us discern God’s calling in our life.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Arguments on God's Existence

Do you find Anselm's and Aquinas' arguments (proofs?) convincing? Why or why not?

I have read Anselm's argument many times over the years. It has always puzzled me. He argues, "And surely that than which is greater cannot be thought cannot exist in the mind only" (432). I understand that if it does not exist, than it cannot be the greatest thing that is thought. I do not understand how you can go from existing in the mind to existing in reality. Does it mean that if something exists in our mind must exist in reality. I assume the answer would be no for every thought, except the greatest thing that can be thought. So, I am not completely sure if I am convinced by Anselm's argument. I do think that it might convince me in another way. Why would the idea of God exist in our mind if He did not exist in reality? It seems having the concept of God leads to the conclusion that he exists. I guess a possible argument against this is the idea we can take things in our world and enlarge it to be some kind of god. I guess this is possible. It seems in the history of humans on earth that the vast majority of people believe in God. So, in some sense I believe having this thought makes one assume that God probably exists.

I think Aquinas's arguments are quite strong because he starts with effects in our world and shows how to explain these effects we must have a First cause. It is important to remember that Aquinas' Five Ways come after his opening questions about sacred doctrine. He asks first "whether besides philosophical sciences, any further doctrine is required." He answers in the affirmative. So he seems to be arguing that there are two ways to the knowledge of God: sacred doctrine and the philosophical doctrine. Second, the Summa was written for beginning theology students. Aquinas argues that the existence of God is not self-evident. He does not think Anselm's argument succeeds because we cannot know the essence of God or God who He is in Himself. He believes we need to know the essence of God for it to be self-evident to us. Aquinas argues that we know God exists because of the effects around us and the only valid explanation of the existence of these effects is that God exists. I find the Five Ways of Aquinas convincing. However, I wonder what we mean by proofs. Are proofs mean that we know God exists with certainly. It seems more like we can know God exists, but still have some doubts. The first way is from motion and change. To truly understand the Five Ways you probably need to understand Aquinas' metaphysics and the thought of Aristotle. Basically, in the first way for something to move or change, one has to be fully in act. There needs to be a first mover. The second way seems similar to the first way. He thinks if there is no ultimate cause, there cannot be efficient causes. Since no one can be the efficient cause of himself, there must be an ultimate cause that causes intermediate causes. It seems the third one is based on contingency and necessary beings. He argues that things go in and out of being. They are not permanent. If they can go out of being than there would be a time where nothing exists. Only a necessary being that is not dependent on other beings for his beings can cause beings to exist and sustain them in being. In other places Aquinas argues that there is a difference between essence and existence. God, however, is His own being. Aquinas' design argument seems to be strong. It does seem that non-intellectual things act for an end. It seems almost unbelievable for the preciseness of things for the world to exist. It seems hard to explain how this is true if God does not exist. I find the Five Ways quite convincing if one keep them in the context of Aquinas' complete writings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Aristotle's Ethics

Are Aristotle's Virtues Achievable in Practice?

es, Aristotle's virtues are achievable in practice, but there are several obstacles in achieving them. One of the problems is that virtuous activities are not an "exact science" because it is a practical science that requires choosing wisely. There are many obstacles to choosing wisely. Aristotle says that virtues "are expressions of our choice, or at any rate imply choice" (1106a). Many thinks can influence bad choices. For one thing, a person must have the right knowledge to choose wisely. One hindrance to this is that a "young man is not a fit person to attend lectures on political science, because he is not versed in the practical business of life from which politics draws its premises and subject matter. Besides, he tends to follow his feelings" (1095a). Another thing the intended purpose of this knowledge is action and the youth needs the knowledge from experience to know how to choose wisely. Another thing is that having the virtues come from creating habits from continual practice. The way to be just is to do just actions, but one needs to be just to do just actions from virtue. Another problem is that there is one way to do it right and many ways to do it wrong. To practice virtuous acts requires fulfilling many conditions: doing the right thing in the right way with the right motivation in the context of the right circumstances. How does one do virtuous acts without being virtuous? No one is born with virtue because it is something developed from practice. Another problem Aristotle thinks that might hinder the development of virtue or make it more difficult to achieve is unfortunate circumstances. Since one is not born with virtue and a child does not have parents who cultivate virtue in their children, it can be difficult for children to develop virtue. In addition, it is sometimes hard for a poor man to be virtuous or a poor man or a person in limited circumstances might find it hard to develop virtue. Another problem might be that all the role models are examples surrounding a young person are examples of vice. Aristotle states that the "moral virtues, then, are engendered in us neither by nor contrary to nature; we are constituted by nature to receive them, but their full development in us is due to habit" (1103a). In other words, it requires hard work. It takes years to form in us. Many might not be willing to do the hard work to develop virtue. In addition, they might want immediate gratification, instead of working for a good life that requires many years. Another problem could be that the habits (vices) we formed early in life hinder us from developing virtue later. Aristotle says, "So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we from from the earliest age--it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world" (1103b20). Aristotle argues that it might be difficult to overcome a lifetime of bad habits. Aristotle thinks that "a bad moral state, once formed, is not easily amended" (Book III). One other problem I like to mention and it concerns the mean. Virtous actions requires hitting the mean between deficiency and excess and doing this is quite difficult. For one thing one has to take in considerations one's own inclinations and hit toward the mean close to the extreme of one's inclinations. For example, if I have a tendency to be over confident, the mean will lie closer to being cautious. So, yes, Aristotle's virtues are achievable, but with great difficulty.   

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Plato's Republic

The Republic of Plato translated, with notes, an interpretive Essay, and A New Introduction by Allan Bloom. 2nd ed. Basic Books, 1991.

The Republic

Books I-II

Cephalus states that justice is "giving back what a man has taken from another." However, it would not be just to give back a gun to a person who will harm himself with it. Simonides said "it is just to give to each what is owed." This seems to be true. If we owe someone, it is just to pay them. It is then said that justice is to do good to friends, and harm to enemies. They think they owe an enemy arm. Socrates argues that people are to do good, not harm. For example, a doctor should not harm his patient. Socrates asks is it "the part of a just man to harm any human being whatever"? No seems to be the implied answer. How can a man be just if he does harm to others? Thrasymachus states that "the just is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger." In other words, if someone can get the better of someone else, it is just. This seems to be wrong because if everyone is trying to better each other, this is a world at war. In addition, he says that people create laws that benefit themselves. This seems to be true, at least sometimes. We have those in power oppressing minorities or outsiders. This cannot be just. What would happen if the tables are turned? Thrasymachus argues that the unjust man is stronger than the just man, so it is better to be unjust if you do not want to be taken advantaged of. Socrates uses the example of a robber gang to show that being unjust does not lead to success. If the robbers are unjust in all matters to each other, they could never work together to achieve their aims. The argument turns with the question, does the just or the unjust live happier? They end Book 1 with the argument that the just will lead better lives. Basically, the idea is that those who develop the virtues will live better lives. For example, those who pursue the seven deadly sins will suffer from it. 

In Book 2 a big question voiced by Socrates, "Is there in your opinion a kind of good that we would choose to have not because we desire its consequences, but because we delight in it for its own sake." This seems to be distinguishing ends from means. Socrates tells about a ring that makes one invisible. Would you seek the good if you could get away with doing the bad without harmful consequences or would you do the good if you did not receive good consequences, but bad ones. It reminds me of the book of Job when it is asked, Does God serve Job for nothing? They decide the best way to know what is justice by enlarging the framework by creating a city in speech. Basically, the city is divided between the farmers, soldiers, and rulers. Everyone will do the one thing they are good at. It seems everyone will be happy by doing the task that they are good at. The argument seems to be at the end of Book 2 that this would be just if everyone worked from their particular strength. One question about Book II is that it endorses censorship. The only poets are musicians allowed will be those whose ideas agree with the beliefs of the city. This chapter also emphasizes training children in the moral virtues. The city will not allow bad representations of the gods are heroes. I do not know if censorship is what is required for a just city. He will return to this subject in book X.

Books III-X

A Major theme of Plato's Republic is What is Justice. I summarized some of the answers to this question above. Socrates thought it might be more clear by seeing what is justice in a city. He argues that there is a close relationship between the city and the individual. The City is made up of three groups: Guardians, Soldiers, and Farmers. He describes three parts to the soul: the calculating or rational part, and the spirited part. The idea is that the guardians or rational part is to direct the other parts. In desribing this, he emphasizes the importance of cultivating both the moral and intellectual virtues.Of course, one of the most known parts of the Republic is the allegory of the cave. It is Socrate's idea on how we know the forms or the transcendentals. He describes this journey to knowledge as a quest. It is interesting that he describes that a only a few will take this journey to wisdom. He shows how many things can interfere in this quest for wisdom. He also says that intellectual pleasures are the greatest pleasure. 

Another theme of the Republic is whether the just man or the unjust man lives the good life. There are many answers to this question during the dialogue. Socrates believes that the just life is the good life and the unjust life is the wretched life. In some sense, the Republic is Socrate's argument that the just life is the best life. The Republic is a many layered work that discusses Plato's ideas of justice, society, government, education, and aesthetics. It is a book that requires many readings. I look forward to reading it again in the future.

Socrates states that education "is not what the professions of certain men assert it to be. They presumably assert that they put into the soul knowledge that isn't in it" (Book VII, 518 b-c). This reminds me of an experience I had many years ago. I enjoyed going to Tastee's Donuts to drink coffee and read. One night I was there grading papers. The owner's wife saw my grades and were appalled. She asked me why I was not "learning" them. The reason was that I could not learn them, but could just assist them in gaining knowledge. The main actor is the student, not the teacher. As Plato says, we are like midwives in assisting in the delivery. If we took this idea seriously, would it change how we taught? 

Plato's Argument for the Immortality of the Soul

Plato, Phaedo

In the first argument for the immortality of the soul, Socrates seems to be arguing from the cycle of life. He argues that the souls of people come from the underworld (54). He states, "If that is true, that the living come back from the dead, then our souls must exist there..."(54). This seems to make sense. Where do souls come from? It seems this argument is as strong as other explanations of the origin of the soul. Materialists, of course, would say there are no souls, so they will not accept the argument; but if we accept the existence of souls, and they are immortal, the first argument seems supported. What I do notice is that the arguments are interconnected, so to accept one it seems you have to accept the others. The second argument is the argument of recollection. This seems to be a strong argument since most people experience deja vu. It seems that we have done the same thing before or remember doing it. There might be other explanations for this experience. Another support of this argument is that we seem to be born with a knowledge of the forms. How do we know these things? It does seem sometimes we experience an opening of the curtain and we know things or have a mystical experience. In the third argument, Socrates differentiates the soul/body, the visible/invisible, the material/immaterial. He states the body is visible and material and impermanent. In contrast, the soul is invisible, immaterial and permanent. This seems to be a strong argument for the immortality of the soul. These comparisons seem accurate. In addition, he argues that knowledge through the senses are ever-changing; in contrast, reasoning about the forms are eternal. How we experience the body does seem that us (soul?) is different from the body. In addition, we have reports of people leaving their bodies for a short time. The last argument seems to be based on the theory of the forms. He even thinks that "Mind" directs everything (69). He says that we assume "the existence of a Beautiful, itself by itself, of a Good and a Great" (70). He says particulars are made what they are through participation in the forms. For example, something is beautiful by participating in the beautiful. Then, he argues that opposites cannot exist in itself. I am not sure I understand what he means by this, but he argues if the soul is what gives life, it is indestructible and deathless and cannot give death. He argues that the "soul will never admit the opposite of that which it brings along" (73). I admit I do not completely understand these arguments, but I hope I understand it a little. I try to think of these arguments in the context of their time and the immortality of the soul seems supported by these arguments. Other arguments could be added to it. For example, since people do not get their due in this life, so their must be another life where sinners will be punished and the righteous rewarded.

Is Socrates wrong to start from certain cultural beliefs and to see where the thought will take him? It might be wrong to view Socrates as a purely rational thinker. Maybe, there is both faith and reason in Socrates use of dialectic. Descartes wanted to start from scratch, but I think he was wrong in his pursuit. 

Friday, December 9, 2016


Mortimer Jerome Adler, Reforming Education: The Opening of the American Mind, edited by Geraldine Van Doren. New York: Macmillan, 1988. 362 pages.

I am rereading Adler's Reforming Education. It is a collection of essays or lectures he did throughout his life. The book provides a good overall view of Adler's thought on education. I read the book several years ago and I am now reading it again with much pleasure. I was reading his essay on docility this morning. He begins the essay by distinguishing between study and curiosity. This distinction was emphasized in the Medieval period by Catholic scholars. Studiositas refers to the virtue of studying the important things. Curiositas was the vice of emphasizing the non-essentials. These two terms had to do with the virtue of temperance. The virtue is the golden mean between two extremes according to Aristotle. Adler thinks that learning is basically discovery. It can be direct discovery or discovery through the help of a teacher. Study and curiosity concerns direct discovery. Most learning is indirect discovery through instruction. Docility is the virtue in regards to learning with the help of a teacher. So, docility would be the mean between the extremes of subservience and pride. Docility means the willingness and ability to learn from others. Adler asserts in another essay that teaching is a cooperative activity with the learner. The learning takes place in the learner. Because of this idea, Adler does not think learning is the teacher pouring what he knows to the learner. In addition, it is not the teacher lecturing and the learner memorizing information to be regurgitated to the teacher. This is exercising the memory and not the intellect of the learner. Adler believes the best way to cooperate with the learner is through the socratic method, the asking of questions. At first, the learner might not see the truth of what the master/scholar is teaching him, but he accepts it temporarily based on the authority of the teacher. However, he must not stay in this situation because that would be subservience or slavery. The goal is that the student will ultimately accept the principle or truth not because of the words of the teacher, but because of his own reason. The student must accept the truth because his own reason impels him to do so. The teacher as well as the student will continue learning their whole life. Mostly the teacher will learn from the best minds of the past through time. So, he will be both a teacher and learner. The major player in learning is the learner himself. The teacher plays a subsidiary role.

Another point that I have seen recently in my readings is the importance of questions. Many Christians say Jesus is the answer, but they do not know the questions. That is putting the cart before the horse. It is actually through questions that the intellect of the learner is actually activated. Questions causes some confusion in the learner. He is not sure what the question. He goes on a quest to discover answer to his questions which might lead to more questions. As Socrates, the teacher is teaching through dialectics or the discussion of questions. I am afraid that what often happens in schools is indoctrination, not education. For example, some of the colleges I have been a member emphasize answers, not questions. They tell the students what they are to believe. Questions are not emphasized, but correct answers. Wrong answers are frowned on. This method of indoctrination does not seem helpful in teaching the learner to stand on their own feet.