Dialog talk:Concerns to study
- Hmm, 8 of them. I thought you would sneak the 7 liberal arts in some way. It will take a while to decide what this list leaves out that it should include and what it should admit that it overlooks. Am I correct in assuming that you will suggest a different initial course of study for each concern?
- Yes,and I am glad you speak of an initial course and let's be wary of the term "course"—perhaps we should better say that we will initiate study of each concern differently. Things should really get going on A Place to Study as they initiate study of these concerns.
Liberal learning addresses how persons concern themselves with possible, but unpredictable, eventualities. From the standpoint of study, a person, or spontaneous grouping, can recognize palpable concerns that do not lend themselves to explicit preparation, for they episodically emerge and recur throughout life in the flux of circumstances in small ways and large. They take shape unpredictably through a succession of choices, small and large, embedded in the flux of life. We do not address these intangible concerns instrumentally, but we can anticipate their emergence, not as predictable outcomes, but as recurrent eventualities. Through A Place to Study, we make these concerns central to study.
Action addresses anticipated situations that do not yet exist, but perception tells us about present and past situations. So there is an inescapable disjunction, an uncertainty.
- OK. And isn't the purpose of our seeking education to equip ourselves to deal with those uncertainties?
- Pretty much, but we deal with uncertainty in two different ways
- The ancient idea of an education suitable for free persons distinguished between acting under constraint—one must do this or that, like it or not—and activities persons did as autonomous, self-governing actors. We are not going to dwell on the contrast between constrained and autonomous action, but consider things from the perspective of the person who is to a significant degree autonomous and free. Someone whose will is not constrained, not externally determined, must consider both the worth of the object of her will, what is worth doing, and her capacity to do it, how she might do it.
- For a free person, action comes from within. It is not determined by the external will of others and by forces compelling our actions. For a free person, action brings integrally questions of both can and should together. The recognition of this union gives rise to concern—much that we should do, we cannot do and much that we can do, we should not do. It is very hard, all things considered, to figure out the mix of things we can and should do at any instant. Our concern arises from that ongoing difficulty.
- Continue revising here. **
In acting on my own, I'm trying to do some thing and both the doing and the outcome are in question. So say in studying a concern for upholding value, we would skip over many of the hypotheticals bandied about in an ethics course because they postulate absurd conditions of action. Explain a bit more what you mean when a "can–should tension arising in the midst of many others."
- Well, we feature 8 rather basic concerns, each combining a mode of acting with a significant objective. Conceptually, we arrange them in a circle so that, if we focus on any one of them, the others remain in close proximity, much as our field of peripheral vision always surrounds what we are looking at. In living freely we need to be able and willing to quickly shift focus as our background sifting of what we see suggests we should, jumping around nimbly, just as our focused vision does.
- You feature these 8 concerns, but I suspect others will come into play.
- I should hope so. Participants can and should develop them, keeping in mind that acting on basic concerns recurs frequently through the course of life and more often than not has substantial significance for the quality of life. I think periodically, say every 2 or 4 years, we should revise the 8 dropping out a few and adding in alternatives through some procedure yet to be determined.
- OK, but for now, what is behind the 8 you are featuring?