JOHN MARK REYNOLDS
Sometimes I fear that our American educational system has not learned this lesson. Just as in Athens most of the young are educated by our poets. Our poets perform on television, radio, and in the music. They worship Eros as a great god. My students come to college full of passion. Dimly, they perceive that they need something. Often, they want to attend to the texts. They simply cannot.
These students are unable to follow an argument. Amusement has made difficult study almost impossible for them. It is hard for them to imagine questions to which there are not immediate answers. After all, can't we just google it? We have amused them to death and they come to college drunk on years of television, degenerate music, and worthless movies.
It is easy to show them that following the logos is a better way, but many are unable to follow. They have been conditioned to worry first about themselves. The have been saturated with sexual images of love. Few have deep and meaningful relationships that are not also sexual. The number one question of college students at Biola University is, "Am I liked?" What is to be done with Alcibiades?
Plato has described the death of an academic culture. Each school, each little academic community, begins with promise. The tools of the dialectic are freely available. The great books are cheap and freely available. However, the great books are hard. It is easier to follow a guru than look for the Good. The guru gives quick answers, the dialectic is hard. Books like the Bible are not written with lists of answers to all the questions we think it should answer. Instead, to get value from it, we must learn to ask what it is saying. Then we must question those sayings to see if they are true. This task is long and hard.
As a result education is often replaced by speech making. Students are often delighted to participate. They opine freely on their own. But in the end, such an institution, Plato warns, will be invaded by the stronger erotic souls. They will reduce college to a four year party before being forced to get jobs. Worst still, school will be reduced to a place where bad men learn the techniques that will help them manipulate the many.
If such a place will not follow the logos, then the best that can be done is to lull it into inactivity and leave.
JB here: I suggest you bookmark Dr. Reynolds. Your education will be enhanced.