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The Great Books: Enemies of Wisdom by Frederick Wilhelmsen


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I came across this article awhile ago and was hoping someone could provide information about what Wilhelmsen is discussing. I’ve yet to come across a deeper explanation of the curriculum, pedagogy, methodology, etc,. he is alluding too.

 

 https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2017/09/great-books-enemies-wisdom-frederick-wilhelmsen.html

Edited by amorfati
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In order to understand his piece, you need an understanding of Ignatius's goal in the Spiritual Exercises (St Ignatius founded the Jesuit order) and education under the Ratio Studiorum.  The purpose of the spiritual exercises is to enable man to think freely and through mental freedom man is able pursue the end for which he is created.  The Ratio Studiorum was the framework for how students were taught.  They were taught via expert teachers who trained their students in the liberal arts.  Philosophy was the backbone of being educated b/c philosophy taught one how to think and judge for oneself whether or not something was truth.  Hence, reading a Great Book and digesting what it shared came from being trained in philosophy and knowing how to evaluate what was read. 

The piece you linked states that modern Great Books education places the reading of the books as the primary objective and does so without having provided students the skills-being educated in philosophy-to truly determine what is being said and why.  He is saying that the words in the books are not an education and the books cannot be judged and evaluated without the ability to know how to judge and evaluate them.  Great Book educations are reduced to a mastery of superficial content, not a growth in philosophical understanding and hence in interior mental freedom.

The entire Ratio Studiorum is available in translation online.  You could start there.  You could aslo read about the historical Jesuit philosophy of education.  You won't find any modern curriculum sources that meet the authors criteria b/c our educational values have been reduced to mastery of content with little concern for ability to independently evaluate what is truth. (accepting propaganda as truth is more on par with today's values.)  And forgetting curriculum, you would be very hard pressed to find master teachers in philosophy.  😞

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
Wrote in a hurry and was pretty unintelligible
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