Notre Dame Prof: Our Schools Are Committing ‘Civilizational Suicide’

UK: As One School Scraps Pro-LGBT Lessons Over Protests From Muslims, Others Begin Teaching How to Treat Knife Wounds

“Cultural Amnesia”

Daniel Lattier

Notre Dame Prof: Our Schools Are Committing ‘Civilizational Suicide’

“They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”

Notre Dame Prof: Our Schools Are Committing ‘Civilizational Suicide’

Dr. Patrick Deneen has taught in some of America’s finest universities. He has been a professor at Princeton, Georgetown, and is now in the political science department at Notre Dame.

So what’s his assessment of America’s best students?

“My students are know-nothings.”

In an extremely important essay posted to Minding the Campus titled “How a Generation Lost Its Common Culture,” Deneen further describes his students:

“They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.”

Deneen accurately diagnoses the problem: that schools today no longer seek to initiate students into a particular tradition, their tradition:

“But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian War? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach? How did Socrates die? Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Canterbury Tales? Paradise Lost? The Inferno?
 

Who was Saul of Tarsus? What were the 95 theses, who wrote them, and what was their effect? Why does the Magna Carta matter? How and where did Thomas Becket die? Who was Guy Fawkes, and why is there a day named after him? What did Lincoln say in his Second Inaugural? His first Inaugural? How about his third Inaugural?  What are the Federalist Papers?”

Usually, people assume that this distressing situation is due to the failures of the modern education system. But according to Deneen, that is not the case. On the contrary, he writes that modern students’ ignorance is the education system’s “crowning achievement… the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide.”

He explains:

“What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like ‘critical thinking,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘ways of knowing,’ ‘social justice,’ and ‘cultural competence.’
 

Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes ‘flexibility’ (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).”

If one holds to G.K. Chesterton’s maxim that a pessimist criticizes that which he doesn’t love, Deneen is no pessimist. He cares deeply for his students, and is frustrated that they haven’t been taught “what is rightfully theirs.”

But he is no false optimist either:

“But even on those better days, I can’t help but hold the hopeful thought that the world they have inherited—a world without inheritance, without past, future, or deepest cares—is about to come tumbling down, and that this collapse would be the true beginning of a real education.”

As Alasdair MacIntyre lamented in After Virtue, “[T]he barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time.” It’s perhaps too late to avoid a new Dark Age. Now is the time to begin the effort of recovery and rebuilding.

 

One thought on “Notre Dame Prof: Our Schools Are Committing ‘Civilizational Suicide’”

  1. Re: “… the world they have inherited—a world without inheritance, without past, future, or deepest cares—is about to come tumbling down, and that this collapse would be the true beginning of a real education.”

    i.e: A world without cause and effect, and without (or at least trying desperately to avoid all painful thoughts of) free-will choice.

    Here’s how the so-called “soft” sciences aka “humanities” (anthropology, psychology, sociology, and even Law or criminology) really work: They all started off by examining the various symptoms and EFFECTS of human behavior, thinking, group-thinking behavior, and of criminal free-will CHOICES, respectively, but then self-invalidated by looking for hidden mysterious predestined and predetermined inevitable force “CAUSES” of it all, which degraded them all into only one criminal, excuse-making alibi topic:

    “VICTIMOLOGY!”

    So we get these two, permanently opposed philosophical poles:

    Law-abiding Conservatives: “Criminal behavior is an effect of free-will choice!”
    Criminal libertines: “But what CAUSED that choice? There’s always a cause!”

    Their implication is that there are no crimes nor criminals because we’re all “victims.”

    In short: they went from studying HOW people CHOOSE to act, to focusing on WHY (ruling out free will choice entirely)!

    And that “why” PRESUMES a fear of pain will ALWAYS trump rationality! “So” we are all really ever only helpless victims! Asking “why” people (‘always’) give in to the fear of pain, presumes that: “SINCE anything CAN go wrong, SO it WILL always go wrong, SO we MUST forgive everyone for their mistakes, as being helpless victims!”

    But in reality, the only reason WHY people commit crimes, is that they still think they can have rights without responsibilities, and so they weigh all the risks and rewards in different situational circumstances first!

    And they only try to do so in each and every separate circumstantial situation, because they haven’t learned that rights ALWAYS only come with responsibilities, causes with effects, and effects with causes, and so they either remain ignorant of, or choose to ignore, the simple Golden Rule of Law moral Principle:
    “Do Not Attack First.”

    BOTTOM LINE:

    These days, uselessly PITYING the victims (and the criminals AS “fellow victims,”) is held up as the highest moral virtue, while being usefully ANGRY at, (or “hateful” towards) criminals and crime is deemed to be the most vile sin.

    But what is more useful in solving problems and remedying crime: being angry at criminals for their predatory choices, or encouraging them to commit more crimes, by pitying them as helpless victims too?

    The answer is obvious.

    Hope is NOT a Plan.

    But (beyond keeping the masses controlled by shaming them into giving up their right to get angry at oppressors, by tricking them into substituting useless static pity for useful dynamic anger) the motto of all governments everywhere will always remain “There’s No Money In Solutions, so Please Give Generously – AGAIN!”

    So it’s high time to educate these higher-learning “educators” of their mistakes!

    In always asking “But WHY?” like perverse little children bedevilling their parents, they can always step back any given answer and exploit it into a whole new and lucrative “specialized” academic field of study!

    But the focus they pretend to thereby gain in minutae actually loses the focus on the big picture or “unified field” of science itself – by deliberately reducing everything they become absurd, or “reducio ad absurdum,” to the Latins.

    And, while the simple answer IS obvious to us, unfortunately so is their own criminally negligent desire to “fail upwards” by ignoring the simple easy and permanent solutions to any and all problems, in favor of exploiting and selling the almost infinite number of mere symptoms and effects of unsolved problems as causes in them selves, as eternal crises for which only temporary band-aid therapy reliefs can ever be applied.

    After all, the motto of all responsibility-averse and willfully delinquent libertine “liberal” criminals must be: “There’s No Money In Solutions, so Please Give Generously – AGAIN!”

    So their final message these days seems to be:

    “Anyone who doesn’t automatically pity all criminals as fellow victims should be hated!”

    But people are mistaken when they lament the demise of Christianity, not really noticing that is exactly what was the original cause of today’s philosophical plight:

    Let’s have a very quick look at it’s true Alpha/Omega:

    The Old Testament began with God making some stuff then condemning all of future mankind for making one bad free-will choice.

    The New Testament ended with Jesus-as-God cancelling the whole thing by claiming man was too stupid to make free-will choices.

    CAPISCE?

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