Free to change your mind

This is a deep insight:

Remember that to change your opinion and to follow the person who corrects your error is as consistent with freedom as it is to persist in your error. For it is your own, the activity which is exerted according to your own movement and judgement, and indeed according to your own understanding too.

Does education make us into better people? (Part 2)

I quoted Seneca yesterday on what he doesn’t like. What type of study does he like? Again from letter 88:

But there is only one really liberal study: that which gives a man his liberty.  It is the study of wisdom, and that is lofty, brave, and great-souled. All other studies are puny and puerile.  You surely do not believe that there is good in any of the subjects whose teachers are, as you see, men of the most ignoble and base stamp?  We ought not to be learning such things; we should have done with learning them.

Does education make us into better people? (Part 1)

Seneca has another long letter (88) about the use and abuse of “liberal studies”, which seem roughly to correspond to the modern notion of education (examples given include music, literature and geometry).  He doesn’t like education for money:

I respect no study, and deem no study good, which results in money-making.  Such studies are profit-bringing occupations, useful only in so far as they give the mind a preparation and do not engage it permanently.  One should linger upon them only so long as the mind can occupy itself with nothing greater; they are our apprenticeship, not our real work.

And he doesn’t like education for education:

Certain persons have made up their minds that the point at issue with regard to the liberal studies is whether they make men good; but they do not even profess or aim at a knowledge of this particular subject.  The scholar busies himself with investigations into language, and if it be his desire to go farther afield, he works on history, or, if he would extend his range to the farthest limits, on poetry.  But which of these paves the way to virtue?  Pronouncing syllables, investigating words, memorizing plays, or making rules for the scansion of poetry, what is there in all this that rids one of fear, roots out desire, or bridles the passions?