Friday, October 16, 2015

Give Liberals a Child to the Age of 27, and They Will Give You Back a Bigger Child

You know the old gag -- "give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man." The left has taken that to heart, minus the man. Tack on graduate school, and the liberal motto should be: give me a child to the age of 27, and I will give you back a terminal child.

Like our reader Van, Esolen places much of the blame on John Dewey, whom he characterizes as a "philistine with a hypertrophied brain." Assouls like him are "senile without ever having been young."

That's some useful insultainment, because it is true of liberal academia in general and of our president in particular, who is simultaneously infantile and sclerotic.

Obviously their whole brains cannot be hypertrophied, but only a part. I wonder which part? We'll return to that question later. But there certainly must be a dominance of left brain over right in order for ideology to be superimposed over experience.

In fact, Dewey was explicitly anti-right brain, as it were, in that he had no use for the child's imagination.

Now, to steal or thwart a child's imagination is a serious crime, because without it, life is hardly worth living. Art, beauty, love, religion, even truth itself all disclose themselves in this transitional space.

We want to deepen and broaden this imaginal space, not foreclose it. Anything of significance is only significant because it faces in two directions, objective and subjective. You might say that we probe an object by extending our subjectivity into it in imaginative ways. See Polanyi for details.

I've mentioned this in passing before, but I believe this is one of the vital functions of religious imagery.

Let us say there is a "spiritual space" where we may have experiences of different kinds. This is something even an atheist will concede, i.e., that spiritual experience exists, even if, in his opinion, it has no object and is wholly subjective.

But a blind worm, say, could affirm the same of the third dimension. Since the worm has no means of probing it, it might as well not exist.

For us, the sense of touch (and taste) is one dimensional, and this is the world Hellen Keller lived in before her awakening to language. It is simultaneously infinite (as is a point) and yet horribly enclosed: "confined in infinite meaninglessness," you might say. Pure Ø.

The sense of smell introduces a two dimensional world, as the smell is separated from its source. Sight opens up the third dimension -- space -- while hearing opens the fourth -- time.

I would say that the spiritual sense -- and all normal humans have it -- opens up the transdimensional space.

But just because you have the space, it doesn't mean it is mapped. Humans, for example, became aware of three dimensional space long before they were able to map the globe, much less the heavens.

Looked at from a certain angle, human evolution involves the more or less accurate mapping of the spiritual dimension.

If you are a Christian, you learn, for example, that the space is trinitarian and relational. It is certainly intelligible, and this intelligibility is characterized by Light. In it we discover the divine beauty, AKA glory. We also discover objective virtues and other archetypal realities.

So, what I mean to say is that John Dewey is all wet when it comes to the imagination. In a particularly diabolical passage, he claims that children

"are occupied only with transitory physical excitations. To symbolize great truths far beyond the child's range of actual experience is an impossibility..."

To which I can only say that my 10 year old is truly wiser than John Dewey, who thinks like a retarded, neglected, or abused child who was never given the space to dream, or even just be. And then he systematically takes it out on generations of innocent children under the guise of "education."

Esolen notes in passing how Charles Darwin claimed -- big surprise -- "that poetry meant nothing to him. He had no ear for it, and he noted its loss with mild regret."

Likewise, "John Dewey had no poetry in his heart," except that in his case he "never noticed the lack." Therefore, like many contemporary atheists, he had a spiritually fatal case of Dunning-Kruger, in that he was completely unable to recognize his own spiritual impoverishment.

"A child is a human being: and human beings are made in the image and likeness of God." This "implies that the child is made for goodness and truth and beauty, and that he will respond to it, despite Dewey's absurd contempt for it..." (Esolen).

To deprive a child of the primordial knowledge in the paragraph immediately above is analogous to performing a spiritual lobotomy: a logotomy, perhaps. True, you'll create a robot or a beast, but robots can be programmed while beasts can be imprisoned.

15 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"In fact, Dewey was explicitly anti-right brain, as it were, in that he had no use for the child's imagination.

Now, to steal or thwart a child's imagination is a serious crime, because without it, life is hardly worth living. Art, beauty, love, religion, even truth itself all disclose themselves in this transitional space."

Yep. But of course Dewey was only able to do what he did, because so many others had already had it done to them. The push to jettison imaginative literature (which included everything from Homer, to Cicero, to Plutarch and the Bible) from education, began around 1800. They wanted only facts and skills and logic and efficiency - 'Scienceishness!

"Esolen notes in passing how Charles Darwin claimed -- big surprise -- "that poetry meant nothing to him. He had no ear for it, and he noted its loss with mild regret."

Likewise, "John Dewey had no poetry in his heart," except that in his case he "never noticed the lack.""

In a completely unsurprising non-coincidence, Rousseau, before he became popular by declaring Civilization to be an evil, sought popularity by peddling his own system of musical notation that would do away with Harmonies.

We seem to be getting beaten by people with half their brains tied up out back.

How does that happen?

10/16/2015 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Someone had a good quote from Sowell the other day -- something to the effect that if you want the impossible, then only liars will suffice.

10/16/2015 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

But there certainly must be a dominance of left brain over right in order for ideology to be superimposed over experience.

Now that you mention this, it is evident in so many areas from global warming and economics to race and religion.

10/16/2015 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Failing to engage the imagination means a failure in education. History, science, math, especially geometry, oddly enough, engaged mine.

10/16/2015 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Mushroom said "Failing to engage the imagination means a failure in education."

Absolutely. The notion that you can even have knowledge, without imagination, is... insane. I think probably literally.

It's certainly at the very least, stupidifying.

10/16/2015 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Reminds me of what Chesterton said -- that there is a form of insanity that involves losing everything but one's reason.

10/16/2015 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Related: the fragility of college students.

10/16/2015 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yes. If your offspring reaches the age of adulthood and has to, say, call the police because there was a mouse in the dorm room, you have failed as a parent.

10/16/2015 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Now, to steal or thwart a child's imagination is a serious crime, because without it, life is hardly worth living.Art, beauty, love, religion, even truth itself all disclose themselves in this transitional space.

Indeed. One of the great delights in life is watching little imaginations blossom; they are the very essence of Surprise.

As to the stealing and thwarting, it seems that most of what passes for children's entertainment these days is intended to do exactly that, to say nothing of education.

10/17/2015 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Jules said...

Former school teacher John Taylor Gatto has a lot to say about this in his " weapons of mass instruction".
Ive always hated the dewey decimal system in libraries.. so cold and inhuman.
Gatto has an entire chapter devoted to examples of young people doing adult things as young as 11.
I think captain cook enrolled in the navy at 11.

And examples of people who became rich without going to college, or hardly... steve jobs, richard branson.
Its truly criminal to be cutting teens away from enterprise and making them beleive the only road to success is ticking the right boxes.

10/18/2015 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As I've mentioned before, I can excuse my father, who only had an eighth grade education, for romanticizing college and seeing it as some great transformative experience. What I cannot understand is my generation -- the most overeducated in history -- doing the same. It only highlights the point that on balance the boomers learned nothing from all that college.

10/18/2015 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or as if they learned nothing from the Wizard of Oz: "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain of tenure."

10/18/2015 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

One of the worst side effects of the degree fetish is the idea that without a degree, you cannot be 'Educated'. Lincoln is laughing/crying from his grave.

10/18/2015 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, I'll take the un-colleged Washington and Lincoln over our two most overeducated presidents, Wilson and Obama.

10/18/2015 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Now there's some contrast; as stark as between the living and the dead.

10/18/2015 09:09:00 AM  

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