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Aristotle and Globalization

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Here is an example of what is wrong with American higher education. A college student I know is taking a course on globalization in which his text outlines the various issues, provides alternatives, and guides the students to form their own conclusions.

On the surface, that seems like a good idea but for a few facts.

First, almost everybody who takes this course is taking it for credit and only a very few of them are going to think about it seriously. Nevertheless, all of them are going to be influenced and formed by the ideas discussed and, more importantly, the form of how the ideas are presented.

Second, those who do think about it seriously will conclude before long that they are not capable of thinking about it seriously – no more than, say, our treasury secretary or our economic advisors.

One in 100,000 of the students studying it will have read, much fewer studied, any serious work on ethics and politics. Those who have will have been conditioned to relativism. A few more will have studied economics, but almost all of them in a modern, amoral mode that disregards the oikos (household) from which “oikonomics” gets its name.

The time spent studying globalization would have been much better spent either running a business or reading Aristotle‘s Politics or Thomas Aquinas‘ Treatise on Man or even a logic class. These students are being asked to fish for truth without ever having learned the art.

In fact, I take that back. I would be surprised if issues of truth ever came up in the discussions. It is discussed in an entirely utilitarian mode. For example, while the book mentions culture, I found nothing on religion.

Which reminds me of the way we study religion in the universities. We sit on the outside of the various world religions, sitting in judgment on them with our tools of analysis. Religious relativism is the form of our instruction, not a conclusion smart students draw from it.

Some of these students are majoring in International Studies, but they don’t have a carefully considered philosophy of their own on international relations, the place of local cultures, the role of religion, fundamental principles of ethics and politics, the nature of man, etc.

I know they don’t because they can’t. They are too young to have carefully considered all these. Yet it is in the University that this level of obtuseness and intellectual irresponsibility is being practiced.

My point is not terribly complicated. Globalization is an issue that requires clear, logical thinking on a foundation of learning in anthropology, ethics, politics, economics, history, business management, and knowledge of the soil. Without that knowledge, sound decisions cannot be made and serious trouble must follow. Some of the graduates in this course will leave it thinking they are equipped to make decisions about the global market. All of them will be effected by the class.

So 21 year old college students should not be studying it. It cannot not do harm.

Much worse than uselessly he leaves the shore
More full of error than he was before
Who fishes for the truth, but lacks the art.

Dante: Divine Comedy

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