The Liberal Arts and Commensurability

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 17 (2):80-92 (2010)
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Abstract

This essay explores the future of the liberal arts by investigating the visions of the future assumed respectively in the institutions of specialized and general education. The core dichotomy is between the specialized, which is instrumentality useful for a closed future, against the general, which is inherently valuable for an open future. The author doubts that educators can prioritize, in a single pedagogy, both inspiring people to freedom (liberal education) and preparing people to fit into an economic or academic niche (professional education). This frames a critique of LEAP'S rationale for higher education, although the value of particular classroom practices therein is affirmed. With reference to Freire and Seery, the essay proposes that theory per se presents the best mode for teaching toward an open future. The value of such teaching would be "potential," neither usable nor exchangeable, instrumental nor inherent

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