9. Institutions of the Essential: Education


         Education in America is viewed primarily in quantitative terms.  Gathering information and learning skills to prevail in a competitive capitalist world certainly is useful.  In fact, it generally is regarded as all that is necessary. Education in this culture is basically a factory operation for generating contributors to our bottom line, the profit motive and the ultimately fatal principle of capitalist economics–that only through growth can the economy be sustained. 
         The Latin educare means, “to draw out from”. This reflects the Socratic method of drawing out gnosis through astute questioning.  The essential can neither be memorized nor accumulated. It can be drawn out only because it already is there. The high function of education is to draw out the essential so that one can align one’s being and life with it.  This is qualitative, not quantitative.
         Quantitative education stuffs information in, and, at best, teaches how to think, to be clever, to calculate effectively. A good liberal arts education attempts to draw out the essential by exposing students to those who have authentically grappled with the essential.  But that cultural history ended with nihilism.  Rarely does education today address or fortify the real foundations of life and death.  From this perspective, our education is profoundly inaccurate and degenerate.
         True education is cultivating savvy about what we innately know, gnosis, and learning how to make it the center of the institutions of civilization.

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