Friday, July 5, 2013

To discover and develop what gifts you have to fill the world’s deficiencies, by providing good goods and serviceable services—is the answer to that question.

While many people serve themselves first and foremost, aiming to gratify chiefly their own lusts, they may find pleasure but not fulfillment in such selfishness and will never know the profound gratifications of sharing and giving—providing for others.

This is a truth of human nature, however it may have emerged in us through the course of our species’ evolution.  We are “wired” to find our greatest fulfillment in providing for others’ well-being as well as our own, and to neglect or deny that innate summons will leave us essentially unsatisfied and unfulfilled.  Only by giving to others can we get what we most deeply need.

More specifically, now: Why should you pursue a liberal education?

There are both personal and public reasons for why you might pursue a college education in the liberal arts and sciences.  The personal reason is self-fulfillment, and the public reason is service to the world.

What drives the first motive is your curiosity to learn about various aspects of our cultural and natural world—the subject matters of the numerous fields of knowledge departmentalized in college under such categories as languages and literature, arts, sciences, and social sciences. 

You come to college to explore these fields, finding out what they entail, and focusing on those ones most congenial to your own genius or aptitudes.  Lacking such essential curiosity or internal urgency to learn, you will waste time and money in college and hinder fellow students from their own pursuits of higher learning, which is a communal enterprise, not an ordeal.

The public reason for your dedicated pursuit of a liberal education (whether in college or elsewhere) is to prepare yourself to recognize and wisely address challenges to the flourishing of life on Earth, from its lowest to its highest reaches, realizing how precious and precarious is life in the cosmos—and treasuring its well-being.