#155- Dewey’s “Challenge to Liberal Thought” Part 1
In the tradition of intellectual fairness, Scott and Karl read from someone they don’t agree with this week.
Toted as the ‘King of Progressive Philosophers,’ John Dewey was an educational reformer active throughout the first half of the 20th century. He left a very significant, progressive mark on the public school system.
His essay “Challenge to Liberal Thought” can be found in The Later Works of John Dewey, Volume 15 which focuses on his writings between the years 1942 to 1948. This particular essay expands on his criticisms of the Great Books of Western Civilization enterprise and a liberal arts education.
Scott says, “This is a utopian, managerial approach to social sciences that’s pretty gross…. If you’ve never read Dewey, this encapsulates progressives’ whole attitude and approach to managing people.”
Tune in to hear Scott and Karl’s response to Dewey’s essay, and be sure to tune in next week for Part Two. Brought to you by onlinegreatbooks.com.
Scott Hambrick 0:09
Welcome to the online great books podcast brought to you by onlinegreatbooks.com where we talk about the good life, the great books, great conversation, and great ideas
Brett Veinotte 0:30
Hello, dear listener, this is Brett. I’m the producer of the online great books podcast. Welcome back to the show. And this week, Scott and Karl begin their two part discussion on John Dewey. You can hear it in my voice, the disdained John Dewey’s essay, “challenge to liberal thought”, you know, they say, This is advice for podcasters that when you’re recording, you should smile, even when you’re talking about John Dewey. So I’m going to try to do that throughout the rest of this and will should make me more likeable and relatable. As I talk to you about something that I really dislike. This is from the later works, collection of essays, volume 15, did this guy ever shut up. There’s early works, middle works, and later works and 17 Total volumes in the later works, each composed of at least a dozen essays. And I’m going to go back to smiling now. I assume that most of the listeners to this show are familiar with John Dewey. Dewey was an educational reformer. He was active throughout the first half of the 20th century and definitely left a very significant very progressive mark on public schooling in the United States of America. And I would say beyond my past work devoted a lot of time and energy to criticism of Dewey’s creations. So I’m just going to excuse myself here and pass the mic to Scott and Karl. And you know, when I first heard they were going to cover Dewey, my impulse was to ask if I could join them for the conversation, and I’m so glad I did not do that it would have just been too much torment. And believe me, me not being there does not save you from torment. It’s coming. But it would have just been too much torment. I think the three of us going and Dewey, this particular essay focuses on his criticisms of the great books of the Western world enterprise. But obviously the conversation expands to his larger social, educational and political philosophy. And it’s a mess. And so with that enticement, here is part one of Scott And Carl’s response to John Dewey’s challenge to liberal thought. Thanks for listening. Thanks for your time and attention. And here we go.
Scott Hambrick 3:04
I’m Scott Hambrick.
Karl Schudt 3:05
I’m Karl Schudt.
Scott Hambrick 3:07
There, you know what we’re gonna read. Are we gonna be ready for The Silmarillion ? In two weeks?
Karl Schudt 3:12
I hope so. I was listening to it in the car yesterday. It’s so good.
Scott Hambrick 3:18
I have mixed feelings about that. feel so dirty,
Karl Schudt 3:21
but me listening in the car? Yeah, well, I’ve got to have an infinity pile, and I have to do things. And so me to do a lot of driving, I can get a lot done. The only problem is I can’t take notes. So I have I have my have a very nice copy of it with pictures in it. I think they’re actual photos because this history history, right? It’s true. But I’m gonna have to go back and jot down notes. But just to go through all the stories and refresh my memory I could, I can go into car.
Scott Hambrick 3:53
I do orientations for new members at online great books, you know, and I often am asked about note taking like, how do you take notes? How do you how do you prepare for seminar? And I tell him, Oh, I just let Karl do that. And then when he brings up something, I know that he’s going to bring up the important bits. And then I just make fart jokes and say stuff about what he made notes about. Yeah, I take a lot of notes. It’s perfect saves me a lot of work.
Karl Schudt 4:23
I appreciate it and I take a lot of notes, but I don’t usually use them. I think the process of taking notes if you do it right. It frees you from the need to use them. It’s like doing technical exercises for piano or trumpet or french horn. I guess they probably have this
Scott Hambrick 4:46
it’s hard to tell it is hard to tell.
Karl Schudt 4:49
Well, you’re so high up in the harmonics. You hardly need to press down buttons anyway.
Scott Hambrick 4:53
And then all the buttons are tied to things with strings sloppiest dumbest instrument in the world.
Karl Schudt 5:00
points backwards. But once you master the technique, you don’t really think about it. And so when you have a text and you you’ve taken notes on your thoughts, hopefully it takes shape in your mind is one thing, and you can talk about it and not and not worry about what where’s my note on that? So over prepare, and then don’t use your preparation.
Scott Hambrick 5:21
I think the notes are a part of active reading. When you when I’m taking notes. While I’m active, I’m not just passive. The reading then requires me to do something when I’m when I’m taking the notes. And that seems to make the reading comprehension go up. In my
Karl Schudt 5:41
little bit of free time I do novels, mostly Space Marines. And that’s a lot more passive, you know, I’m not really taking notes. So if I’m reading, I was rereading some Terry Pratchett, I’m not tracing out vetinari He’s evolution over the book, you know, I’m not making cross references, and I’m just letting him talk to me. Right. It’s a lot more relaxed, but when you know, reading John Dewey had to had to grind on it a bit.
Scott Hambrick 6:06
I get so relaxed when I read John Dewey, you do my bowels just empty? Yeah, I guess so. So relaxed. What are we going to read? Sorry, we’re gonna read Silmarillion.
Karl Schudt 6:20
Yeah. As much of it as you managed to do
Scott Hambrick 6:24
all jammed down through that thing? Yeah, we’ll do that. Then when you want to do after that. I’ve got some I’ve got some goodies. But I’ve been shouting them out lately. What do you want to do?
Karl Schudt 6:33
I was thinking there’s some big ones we ought to hit, I think. I think but I have to, I have to find a digestible chunk of it. I think we ought to do decline and fall of The Roman Empire, not the whole thing.
Scott Hambrick 6:50
I listen. When I don’t want to play just the tip with that book. We need.
Karl Schudt 6:57
Yeah, but for a podcast, you know, see how big it is?
Scott Hambrick 7:01
How big is it? They don’t it’s its feet, not in pages?
Karl Schudt 7:05
Okay, let’s see the file. The E pub file is 15.6 megabytes?
Scott Hambrick 7:14
It’s not, is it a WAV audio file?
Karl Schudt 7:19
It’s an infinite book.
Scott Hambrick 7:21
It’s huge. It’s huge.
Karl Schudt 7:23
So just find it, a chunk of it, that would be good. It comes in four volumes if you buy the old copies.
Scott Hambrick 7:29
And that’s the proper way to do it. You know, this thing where we get these 900 page books that are cinder block proportions. It’s just so hard to manage. And if you get four, one and a quarter inch thick books, it’s so much easier to read those things. With, you know, people like oh, I don’t like to read well, okay, I get it. Kind of. But it’s like, it’s almost like everything is conspiring against people, people’s readings, you know, between dopamine hacks and tick tock and just poorly executed books. How the hell are you going to read, decline and fall in one volume?
Karl Schudt 8:15
Yeah, I’m thinking this might be a Hambrick book. Yet, the memorable series of revolutions, which in the course of about 13, centuries, gradually undermined and at length destroyed the solid fabric of human greatness may with some propriety divided into the three following periods. There you go. It’s going to be series of revolution. That destroyed it.
Scott Hambrick 8:36
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, the modern library collection, complete and unabridged. 3630 pages.
Karl Schudt 8:49
You know, we might be the first two people to read that thing in the last 50 years.
Scott Hambrick 8:53
Oh, they read it at the Kennedy School government. Right. That read the politics too. Right? They read the Republic too, right? No, they don’t. I’ve actually talked to people that went there. They don’t. Let’s Yeah, you find a chunk of that. And then I really want to read Albert J. Nock’s Memoirs of a superfluous man. Okay, have you heard of this? Just from you. It’s a classic. everywhere but the rock you live under. He’s a curmudgeonly old fellow. It’s about education and the changes in society that he had seen over his lifetime. It was written in 1943. It’s a good one and more people more people should read it. Put it in front of more people. I think it’d be mighty fine.
Karl Schudt 9:40
Mm hmm. Yeah. I want to read as well as foundation. Okay. Not because it’s a great book. I think it’s actually an evil book.
Scott Hambrick 9:51
Oh, let’s read it.
Karl Schudt 9:53
But it’s a an easy, easy breezy read and you get to see people in the far future acting like 1950s You know, businessman smoking cigarettes and calling all the women hon
Scott Hambrick 10:06
on its name. Yeah. Frailes Yeah, it’s funny skirts, frauds.
Karl Schudt 10:13
So, anyway, I’d like to do that I I’ve read a whole bunch of him. And well, I’ll tell you why. I think it’s evil at the end of that podcast. And we thought something about because we’re doing some heavy stuff. Of course, there’s always more Shelby Foote, except I think I might have impact away at the moment. Do Volume Two of that apparently. I haven’t read volume two apparently the Gettysburg section is a must
Scott Hambrick 10:44
read drunk. Have you read Killer Angels? No. What is that Michael Sherif sh Ara wrote a fictionalized sort of account of Gettysburg, like the military details and so many of the details in that book are right. But you know, some of the the interpersonal dialogue stuff is dramatized in it. It’s, it’s in a sketchy space where you’re not sure if it’s a novel, or if it’s a true account. I think the movie Gettysburg was based on Killer Angels. Friend of mine, my buddy Ray, the plumber. He’s like Hambrick, you’ve got to read Killer Angels. He said, the wife and I took the kids on a road trip, she cracked the book and started reading aloud to us. And we wouldn’t stop for the back to go to the bathroom. Because it was so good. She was reading aloud and I took it on the trip. Attorney and I went on a trip and I took that I laid down in a chair by the pool and read it in one laying. Whatever that is. I mean, I read it for like six and a half hours straight and read the whole thing. I handed it to charity said you’ve got to read this. She did the exact same thing the next day. Hmm.
Karl Schudt 11:57
Yeah, sure. And, and also, we had talked about perhaps doing more children’s literature. Yeah. Which is stupid. It’s not children’s literature. It’s books that children can read.
Scott Hambrick 12:10
Like what it
Karl Schudt 12:12
Yeah, Huck Finn is not children’s literature. Maybe the ending. But you mentioned and I thought was a good idea. Little House on the Prairie. Whatever the first one is.
Scott Hambrick 12:27
The first one is Little House in the Big Woods. I love that book. But Little House in the Big Woods is written simply so that children can read it for sure. Like you’re talking about. And as you go through her series, the books are. The prose is more and more complex and more and more adult. Not that there are any adult themes, but they’re more difficult to read. But Little House in the Big in the Big Woods would be good Little House on the Prairie itself, which I think is the second book would be good either of those. They’re so good. You’ve never read them. Right.
Karl Schudt 13:01
Thank you. I read one of them. Oh, you didn’t love it? No, it was it was okay. You’ll have to make me love it. Yeah,
Scott Hambrick 13:09
I do love them.
Karl Schudt 13:11
I remember Almanza isn’t that the father’s name? That’s her house.
Scott Hambrick 13:16
The husband is Laura’s husband. His mom’s. I don’t remember what the dad’s name is. She just called him Paul.
Karl Schudt 13:20
I think I think we should have a house in Minnesota. I think we might have walked through
Scott Hambrick 13:25
the Little House in the Big Woods. Louisa May Alcott was in Minnesota, I believe. That’s Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Karl Schudt 13:33
Yeah. Where it goes wider. Sorry. See, a terrible
Scott Hambrick 13:37
Little House on the Prairie is just a little bit north of Oklahoma border, I think on the vertigo River in Kansas, I believe. And then the house that she retired to when she was you know, an author. authoress is up there too. They’ve got pause, fiddle there. They do.
Karl Schudt 14:01
That’s cool. And then I’ll throw another one out there. Although I’d have to pick one. And I think I’d pick Magician’s Nephew if I was gonna pick one.
Scott Hambrick 14:11
CS Lewis have a Narnia book. Yeah. I read those forever ago and I don’t know. Everybody gets all shook up. I’m gets all excited. I read them a long time ago, but they did not do that to me. So I’ll read it again. It’s fine. I’m a different person.
Karl Schudt 14:32
Mm hmm. They might see some some deeper things going on in it. It’s just you know, for me, he suffered so much from being Tolkien’s friend in my mind, because token has this I’ve been reading somewhere alien a bit. And he’s got this fantastic letter in the second edition Christopher put in there. The recently deceased Christopher Tolkien and and and his dad was so smart and so solid of thought, and has this whole thing constructed from the bottom up. And CS Lewis, who, you know, has many fine qualities. But world building is not one of them in and nothing quite makes sense. They’re just kind of little. They’re good books. They’re not great books. And because people group Tolkien and Lewis Lewis suffers in the comparison,
Scott Hambrick 15:31
I read CS Lewis having not read Tolkien. That’s probably the way to do it. Yeah. And so so I did not make that comparison. But my recollection of the Narnia books was that they were sort of tortured. You know, is the tortured analogy just front to back, but I’ll get people will be upset at me for saying that. But that was my impression that I remember. I’ve read so many other things that he’s written, the great divorce and Screwtape and all of those things too, and good on him. It’s inexplicable how he remained Anglican. Yeah, it’s crazy.
Karl Schudt 16:10
Thanks from Belfast with me. There’s some Irish pasta and things going on in there, I think. And then I wanted to point out one more thing, before we dig into John Dewey. We were talking before we turn the microphones on a little bit about Thomas Aquinas and the thing about Thomas Aquinas as if you have some Latin you can read him in Latin inside posted a quote on our slack. I just want to say that there’s a cool trivia thing here. Alright, so you know what hypertext markup language is, right. Okay, so that’s when you HTML and when you click on a word that brings you to other things. One of the first and perhaps the first examples of this was the index domesticus. put together by I believe a priest. Yeah, Roberto BUSA started in 1949, IBM agreed to sponsor the project, can you believe it started in 1946 where they took all 10 million words in 56 volumes of the complete works of Thomas Aquinas hyperlinked so that you could say you wanted to look up the word analogy and a logo or something, you could click on it. And you could search every time it showed up. And if you wanted to search two words, you could enter two words and search and find every time they came up. And you may think that this is super easy because we have you know, search engine that will it wasn’t super easy in 1946 they had to do it with punch cards. punch cards. Well, anyway, so the the descendant of this the digital copy of it is that something called corpus temesta comm.org. Where you can go and you can get the complete works in Latin of Thomas Aquinas at this is what the internet should be for instead of the distribution of pornography and day trading
Scott Hambrick 18:28
Karl Schudt 18:31
but it should be for you know, Oprah Omnia sunk title my this is very, very cool. And it’s not super hard. Latin. It’s this is not Cicero. So I just wanted to throw that out there. Out into the podcast world. I know some of our people are studying Latin at SLAC at our Slack it online great books. You got a little bit you do maybe three months a lot and you can poke your way through sometimes quieter.
Scott Hambrick 18:59
Thomas is so good. We’ll have we get we’re gonna do some of that. Thomas Sankara Thomas on natural law. Maybe one of the five proofs?
Karl Schudt 19:15
Yeah. All right. Do we have to get to Dewey?
Scott Hambrick 19:19
Now we could tell knock knock jokes.
Karl Schudt 19:21
Why did you make me read this? Well,
Scott Hambrick 19:22
we have a history of reading garbage on this show that we don’t really like. And in the tradition of, you know, sort of intellectual fairness, it’s probably good to read people that we don’t want to agree with. Whether that’s Bernays or Dewey. This is the interesting thing. So okay, for the listener, we read John Dewey, not Thomas Dewey, John Dewey. From a compilation from the Southern Illinois University Press called the later works volume 15. We read his essay A challenge to liberal thought, where he essentially is attacking. I don’t know if he’s attacking, but he’s kind of he’s going at the sort of great books movement and liberal arts education. So we’ve got this history being you have redone a few things from folks that we don’t care for. We’ve read a little MACUSA we’ve read. Oh my gosh, no, Lansky, I was gonna say he’s that evil guy. Olinsky. But you know, so many of these things that we’ve read like Alinsky or Bernays, we may not agree with their aims or their worldview. But when read as a technical manual, they’re probably dead on. Mm hmm. Dewey is not that Dewey is not that. No. You know, we read HG Wells, New World Order. talked about that on here. I think, you know, this is more sort of, sort of in that vein, this sort of this utopian managerial approach to society to social sciences, and it’s pretty gross. People throw around the word progressives. Oh, oh, he’s a progressive. Well, that’s a specific kind of philosophy that came out of northeastern universities in the late 1800s, early 1900s, John Dewey, is maybe the king of the American progressive philosophers. And you don’t have to know a lot about progressive ism, as a school of philosophy. Because once you’ve read this, this essay, you’ll learn a great deal about it. Of course, you know, there’s 1000s and 1000s of pages written by Dewey and others, but this kind of encapsulates their whole attitude and approach to managing people.
Karl Schudt 21:51
Yeah, well, maybe we ought to see what he has to say. I just wrote at the top of my page, I did some math. I think I did this right. That he was 85 when he wrote this
Scott Hambrick 22:02
Karl Schudt 22:05
Which makes it a little bit better, because it’s, I think it is, in fact, an attack on Hutchins and Hutchins, you know, has avenues of attack, for sure, but we’ll see what you think. Do you have a stir?
Scott Hambrick 22:17
So okay, down at the bottom of this first page here, it says that this is first published in Fortune 30 Fortune Magazine, and then it says that Alexander Mikkel John replied to this, and Mikkel John was one of these great book guys. He’s in there kind of with Stringfellow bar and Scott Buchanan and and Hutchins, and Adler and Erskine, so he’s one of those, that first group of these, there’s there’s no question this isn’t maybe it’s not an attack directly on Maynard Hutchins, but it’s definitely an attack on that movement, as seen in St. John’s Columbia, and University of Chicago BASIC program, and volleys back and forth several times. So Mikkel John replies to this and then do we reply to the reply?
Karl Schudt 23:09
Yeah, I suppose I could trace that out. If I wanted to. Know, I’m frustrated. I’ll save it. But I’m frustrated because I think he makes it a big blunder.
Scott Hambrick 23:21
Oh, I know, I think let’s see if we agree on what that is. Should I write on a piece of paper and then you write it on what I was told it up?
Karl Schudt 23:30
Sure, we’ll figure it out. I bet we have the same idea. I do like his first sentence. So there’s that there is probably no better way to realize what philosophy is about when it is living not antiquarian than to ask ourselves what criteria and what aims and ideals should control our educational policies and undertakings. Okay, so if you want to know what a philosophy actually is, I think this is actually right. I think I think he’s right on this. Except the answers he gives wrong. Is you say, okay, okay, Mr. Platanus. Okay, Spinoza just how would you edit, educate children? They’ll tell you, and that will tell you what the philosophy really is. Yeah. You could probably do the reverse and figure out the you could look at the way people are educating your children and figure out reverse engineer what their philosophy is. What they think your children ought to know and what they think your children ought to be forced, because that’s what compulsory schooling does to do, will tell you what they really think is important.
Scott Hambrick 24:44
His self awareness is close to zero. Because if you work backwards from his educational approach, you eventually get to his conception of man or the individual or the human and It is dehumanized. He doesn’t have a lot of respect for humans. I mean, he just doesn’t. You know, you’ll see here so much stuff in political discourse. If you guys don’t like, my political opining, just beat it. Alright, shut up. I want to hear about it. The whole internet is for people that don’t agree with me, like this is the only place where people agree with me talk. This when people say the elites, this is what they’re talking about he, he wants to offer or offer people a limited kind of education, which really is even an education if they training. But that wouldn’t be for him. See, he’s an elite. So he gets to have a real education. And the people like him get to have a real education. And then through having that real education, they end up being the governing class. So when you hear people throw around, oh, the elites, this is kind of where that comes from. Because we used to have a word that might have been used in that case, aristocracy. That’s not what this is. That’s not what this is.
Karl Schudt 26:12
A genuine aristocracy. A genuine one not you know, the Kennedys are a genuine aristocracy is ruled by the best. Well, it presupposes that you know what counts as the best. And in what way John Dewey was the best? Well, Walker Percy would make fun of BF Skinner, for saying that everything in everyone in the world can be explained through operant. What is it behaviorism through behavioral conditioning,
Scott Hambrick 26:42
except BF Skinner,
Karl Schudt 26:44
except BF Skinner? Well, everyone ought to be educated in terms of science, and the increase of material goods, except John Dewey.
Scott Hambrick 26:55
Instead of me going on about John Dewey, maybe we should do some John Dewey. He says, We are told that scientific subjects have been encroaching upon literary subjects, which alone are truly humanistic. We are told that zeal for the practical and utilitarian has resulted in the displacement of a liberal education by one that is merely vocational, one that narrows the whole man down to that fraction of his being concerned with making a living. We’re told that the whole tendency is away from the humane to the materialistic from the permanently rational to the temporarily expedient, and so on.
Karl Schudt 27:30
Yeah, we are told I wish he would give names and quotes. I wish he would give specific statements. But sure, I actually, generally agree with that, except now I think we’re not even educated in the vocation now.
Scott Hambrick 27:44
Clearly not. You know, it. Karl, and I have both been homeschooling kind of guys. And the most Normie of normies will admit, or they’ll say, Well, you know, public schooling system was designed to create workers for the Industrial Revolution. And we have to, you know, we’ve got to get that education up to the times and the or the industrial revolutions that, like, even normies will admit that the schooling has, in fact, followed Dewey, he wants this to be an expedient vocational training. And here, he says, well, that we are told, and then some say and those kinds of things, but that’s what he’s advocating for. He’s actually advocating for all these things that he says he’s being accused of. And now here we are in 2022. This essay is 80 years old. I don’t know how old it is. Yeah, it’s around 80 years old. Everybody knows that those allegations are true.
Karl Schudt 28:53
Well, except I think, let me defend do a little bit more, I think probably modern education hasn’t done what he wants. Alright, so in this paragraph, this is on page 262. He makes a concession to Hutchins at all and says, Well, we agree that an overloaded and congested curriculum needs simplification. We agree that we’re uncertain as to where we’re going and where we want to go and why we’re doing what we do. But he wants to clarify it. And she says at the end of the essay, but these kids today, they’re not getting vocational education. They’re not even getting that if they were getting that it would be better. You know, if you take a high school student, what can he do when he graduates? He can work with the school supplied Chromebook and do approved activities. I don’t know but they’re not doing home economics are not doing shop class. They’re not doing basic financial understanding. They’re not doing reading very well. They’re not doing math very well. Those are not vocational.
Scott Hambrick 29:57
Well, but Dewey says that this education shouldn’t match the demands of modern life. Right? Am i Straw Manning him there? Nope. Well, I could make an argument that modern life doesn’t require a vocational training. Who’s working at the GM plant now? Who’s working in the steel industry? Who’s working like other countries? So So what vocations are there actually in the United States? Now we’ve still got plumbers, we still have electricians are still have HVAC guys. We still have some diesel mechanics, automobile mechanics, there are still some vocations. But not like there was in 1943. When he was at 43, when he wrote this, there’s a chicken and egg problem. Did we lose industry? Because people weren’t trained for it? Or are they not trained for it? Because we lost it? But I don’t know. But if you’re an educator, a dubious educator, do you want to you want to give a high school senior, a little elementary industrial science stuff, a little bit of metallurgy? Do you want to give them the kinds of things that they would use if they were going to go into industry? So that what will happen? Like at this point, what at this point? How do you do what he’s even talking about?
Karl Schudt 31:20
This is an interesting thought. So if we are de industrialized, and deform ized? Why educate anybody in at all?
Scott Hambrick 31:35
Oh, why did you say it? You’re not supposed to say that? You can think it. You’re not supposed to say that, Carl. That’s the end of it. That’s the end of the show.
Karl Schudt 31:52
Well, I mean, you have you have all these schools, we need to have do something with them.
Scott Hambrick 31:57
So you’ve seen a move towards acculturation in schools? Well, maybe that’s the only thing they can do. Now, maybe. If you’re a Dewey lists, if you’re a progressive educator, maybe that’s the only thing they can do. Ai Home Economics, what are you going to do with that 70% of food comes prepared.
Karl Schudt 32:20
like Uber Eats, I can’t understand UberEATS. I probably complained about that already. If I complained about that, not enough. Not enough. I occasionally work at a gym in Chicago, and many of the, of the people that come to the gym, they think nothing about using an app to hire somebody to drive to a restaurant and bring them a sandwich. Right? Hire somebody, that’s three steps too many, you know, or at least two steps. Just go get the say I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just drive yourself. But everything’s divorced from from the production. So you don’t need to teach anybody how to do the product. For me one of the bigger errors of Dewey, there’s a bigger one. One of the big areas is what you call the chicken and egg problem. How do you educate people for a future? Whose shape you do not know?
Scott Hambrick 33:27
That is not the critical error. I see. No, but it is a critical error.
Karl Schudt 33:35
Midas will teach them that whole bar and coding what
Scott Hambrick 33:38
Yeah, what do you know is, but see, he’s an elite so he can Okay. Okay, so here’s the thing. pose your question again, if you can. Wait, which one? How do you know what future to how do you know how to educate people
Karl Schudt 33:52
for a future the shape of which is unknown?
Scott Hambrick 33:55
Well, what if you’re Dewey? And you believe that you have some say in what that future will be?
Karl Schudt 34:04
Well, then maybe you could do it that would require control of the future.
Scott Hambrick 34:08
Karl Schudt 34:10
this is another one of these quiet things? You said the quiet part out loud?
Scott Hambrick 34:15
Yeah. I think that he believes that through science, trademark, and proper training. I think that he believes that we now control history. I think that underlies what he’s saying. I don’t know that he wrote a lot of pages man. I mean, Dewey’s corpus of work is enormous. And I am no Dewey scholar. I’m not a scholar. Much.
Karl Schudt 34:41
That sounds so depressing. Who would be a Dewey scholar?
Scott Hambrick 34:47
They’re out there. I suspect that he believes that in this new era. We can pick up the reins of history and steer it
Karl Schudt 35:00
I don’t think he I don’t remember him saying that in this essay. But if you’re going to make a an education that fits the needs of the modern world, it seems to me that that’s a hidden premise that you have to therefore determine what the needs of the modern world will be.
Scott Hambrick 35:17
Yeah. He says we differ from the liberal arts folk. He says, We differ profoundly from the belief that the evils and defects of our system sprang from excessive attention to what is modern in human human civilization, science, technology, contemporary social issues and problems, whether we rest our own critical estimate of the present educational situation, upon the belief that the factors that correspond to what is living in present society, the factors that are shaping modern culture are either confusedly smothered by excessive attention to the old or diverted into channels in which they become technical and relatively illiberal in comparison with what they would be if they were given the central position. I begin then, with the fact that we are now being told that a genuinely liberal education we require return to the models, patterns and standards that were laid down in Greece some 2500 years ago, and renewed and put into practice in the best age of feudal medieval ism six and seven centuries ago. It is true that a theory of education used the word liberal as applied to an education having nothing to do with the practical was formulated in Greece. For Greece, we inherit the tradition that puts liberal and mechanical education in sharp opposition to each other effect to be noted, identifies as mechanical, anything and everything concerned with industry and useful commodities and services. Yeah, next page, as was proper. A liberal or free education was the education of a free man in the Athenian community. But this has to be placed alongside the fact totally improper, from the standpoint of modern democratic communities that free citizens were few in number, and that their freedom had a large servile class as its substratum. Hmm. Okay, Dewey. Dewey, listen to me. I know you’re in hell right now. But I think you can hear me.
Karl Schudt 37:17
Well, that means that our podcast is played down there.
Scott Hambrick 37:21
Oh, well, it’s torture for these guys like this, you see? So listen, Dewey, what if? What if the servile class had a liberal education? Would that then render them more fit for self government? Hmm. Is the fact that they were the servile class in any way related to the kind of education that they were denied? It’s not the sole factor. You know, I understand that. You know, getting to talk with talk with Socrates didn’t automatically, you know, make you fit for governance or whatever. And the people that did talk to Socrates, I’ve read the dialogues aren’t all fit for governance, either. But is there any relationship between the kind of education that some people got and the one that was denied others that may have had a role in placing them in society?
Karl Schudt 38:19
I had different objection to this. Okay. So he says free citizens were few a number in their freedom had a large server classes at substratum I just thought well, yes.
Scott Hambrick 38:29
Right. So what
Karl Schudt 38:31
is there not a large server class?
Scott Hambrick 38:35
Oh, well, he permanently wants to make them servile by giving them nothing but technical trainings.
Karl Schudt 38:41
Well, there’s a premise. This is just like Hutchins, they share this premise that democracy is an ultimate good. Yeah. Well, if you’re going to make democracy work, this is where I think Hutchins is right to hit him on this wrong and his ultimate conclusion. But if you’re going to make democracy make sense, you can’t have a non liberally educated populace, because they won’t understand what they’re voting on.
Scott Hambrick 39:12
And if you can’t have if you are kind of like Dewey and you’re not sure that you can have a liberally educated populace, then maybe you can’t have the democracy. Yeah. Maybe.
Karl Schudt 39:27
But that’s unthinkable. Right? What does it matter that Athens? Well, for one thing, I don’t know that
Scott Hambrick 39:35
who they granted the franchise to?
Karl Schudt 39:37
Yeah. Does that change whether you ought to study geometry and astronomy and music and what’s the fourth one? In jog, thinking as a traditional arithmetic liberal arts
Scott Hambrick 39:55
oh my gosh, you’re asking for the quadrivium I don’t know. Let’s look it up. I’m still working on the first three. I don’t have time for the other five. Yes. Geometry astronomy arithmetic and the music’s plus, of course you already already building on grammar, logic and rhetoric.
Karl Schudt 40:17
Yeah. And so what in order to make this a stronger claim he’s see this is where I started to get angry that that he’s he’s playing dirty here. You know this is a kind of crappy that so you love your mother Hmm You know who else loved his mother? Hitler, Oedipus just trying to make the classical liberal arts be necessarily tied to slavery. Yeah, and I don’t think they are. Unless you think that liberal that having people be liberally educated necessarily results in them having slaves or having a servile class, and therefore we shouldn’t educate anybody. Maybe that’s maybe that’s the thought that raising people above? makes everybody else go down? Maybe? Yeah, but anyway, I think it’s a dirty trick. Mid
Scott Hambrick 41:15
page 263. Again, talking about the people of Athens who had the voting franchise, they were free to do so because they lived upon the fruits of the labor of an industrial enslaved class. Mm hmm. How many people in the United States do not own a crescent wrench or a hammer? How many people in the United States do not understand the difference between a gasoline or a diesel engine? How many people in the United States cannot repair their toilet? And on and on and on? Like, there is a servile class that is making all this stuff happen? And just because you lit up take a wage doesn’t mean they’re not a server class. You know, this guy. You know, Carl, if you pay him a penny, they’re not a slave. Like if they get money. It’s not a slave.
Karl Schudt 42:10
Mm hmm. Yeah, there you go. Saying the quiet stuff out loud again.
Scott Hambrick 42:14
Yeah, it’s all mutually agreed upon a mutually beneficial, you know, you get 1250 an hour. And then a no, now listen, I listen. You know, I make 185 a year, 185,000 hours a year. But the guy, the building superintendent guy, the one that changes the lightbulbs in the hall, and he gets 1250 an hour, which works out to around 25 grand, but we give him free rent. He can stay in the building for free. But then he gets you know, 1250 now.
Karl Schudt 42:47
Oh, but but we do more than that. You know, because we say your car is $30,000. Mr. maintenance supervisor. So you’re going to be in debt for for that. And you want to have house so that you’re not paying rent? Well, if you’re paying rent, what happens if you don’t pay rent? I don’t even know where to live? Yeah, you want to buy a house? Well, that’s gonna be quarter of a million at least. You want to send your kids to college? Because college is the way to be an elite. But what do you have to do? My alma mater, I believe the last time I checked, and I don’t check very often because they’re dead to me. But I think it’s 60,000 a year. I got five kids. You know, there’s no way
Scott Hambrick 43:39
Karl should have had five kids. You know, I mean, it’s just too expensive to have children. Like, you know, maybe you should have had it. You know, there’s reasons for that. Yeah. And I listen, I’m no communist or anything. But what is he talking about? Like, is there not a survivor class? Sure. Worse. There’s the point I’m making
Karl Schudt 43:56
is that it’s a debt class. Yeah. And so maybe you pay him 1250 an hour. So he’s not enslaved. Okay,
Scott Hambrick 44:05
can you call all of it back but a buck? Yeah, I looked up the other day, the America average American household has around $1,700 A month worth of discretionary income. Now disposable income is your income after taxes discretionary is after you’ve met your obligations for rent food and other things. So 17 I think it was 17 in the 1720. area $1,720 I think, but half of Americans have discretionary income of under $250 a month. So these people are meeting their obligations for food, shelter, utilities, clothing, etc. And have $60 A week extra
Karl Schudt 44:58
Hmm. but it’s not a survival class.
Scott Hambrick 45:03
But it’s not a survival class. Yeah, good times. Yeah, we go on down the page, it’s gonna take forever, I always do. He starts making the argument that methods of work. So I’ll just I’ll just quote him. Methods of work are now the result of continuous application of science inventions, themselves, the result of applications of science are constantly encroaching upon ways of production that carry over routine and precedent. There was justification and existing conditions for the Greek who distinguish between activities that were a manifestation of Rational Insight or science. And those that were they express your expression of a rational routine, but there is no excuse for such a view in the present time. There is no more natural science involved in the conduct of our industry, than there is anything nearly resembling science in the conduct of our political and social affairs. equivocation Dewey is wrong about this?
Karl Schudt 46:00
Well, and was equivocating? Okay, so I’ll go first. So he’s, again, is doing a very common modern thing to hypothesize the science, to make it into a thing, talking about the Greeks distinguishing between activities that are meant for manifestations of Rational Insight, and those that are the expression of irrational routine, you know, the science that is being used in industry is baked in.
Scott Hambrick 46:26
But it’s not science, it’s engineering. Right? Thomas Edison, not a scientist, he was an engineer, he tried stuff that did destructive testing until he got the light bulb to stay on. That’s not That’s not actually science. It’s engineering. It’s a technical approach, not a theoretical one.
Karl Schudt 46:47
Well, and even so it’s a science that what he’s talking about is a science that does not comprehend the final cause. Right? So there you are working. You’re even progressively educated in into using science into advancing human prosperity or whatever. But what’s human prosperity? That’s a question about ends
Scott Hambrick 47:09
advancing towards what? That’s always the question.
Karl Schudt 47:13
And this is where the liberal education and liberal education is not content. It’s not content, liberal education. I mean, we use content but it’s, it’s being able to establish your own ends to figure them out, determine what is true, good and beautiful, and go towards it. If you don’t have that, you don’t even know why you’re working in the factory.
Scott Hambrick 47:40
Oh, gosh, we’re going to read some Maslow if your discretionary income is $250, a month or less? Those folks and maybe this has to do East Point, maybe those folks are having a hard time moving up the hierarchy of needs, right towards self actualization? I think do you would say, okay, then, you know, why are we making all these self actualization mouth noises at these people, they just need to be trained in such a way that maybe they can make more, they’re more productive. And we can get that we can get that $250 a month in discretionary income to go to 350?
Karl Schudt 48:31
Well, even discretionary income. So you have your three, you have your 250 a month, what should you spend it on?
Scott Hambrick 48:41
Karl Schudt 48:42
So this should this word should? Or what we say? Ought I like often English better because it’s believing the past tense of Oh. What do you owe to spend it on? This becomes a question of, again, the end what is a human being? What does it mean to be a flourishing human being? You figure that out first, and then you can work out with the science ways to make that happen. It doesn’t go the other way around. For me, this is the big error. For me, the biggest error that he makes is thinking he seems to think that the science he doesn’t capitalize it or put the thought in front of it, but modern people do that, thus science will tell you how to live and it does no such thing.
Scott Hambrick 49:30
No. Let me simplify some of his argument. Maybe too much, somebody might say but I still think it needs this simple this simplified version of his argument needs to be addressed. 1943 is different than 1843. What kind of work is available in 1843? Almost entirely agricultural. So in 1843 There may be some one room schoolhouses, it’s very common to go to school, maybe half as long each year than we do now and stop around 12 years old, very common, maybe 10 years old. Well, now it’s 1943. You can go work down at the bomber plant, you can make vacuum tubes for RCA. You know, there are electricians, there was no such thing. There’s so much happening. That didn’t happen in 1843. If everything is so much different. And we’ve got young people come in, what do you do? Do you continue to do the same stuff? Do you continue to the same way? In terms of education?
Karl Schudt 50:45
Well, if you’re asking me, what I would have done, the liberal education part of it, the grammar, logic rhetoric, that’s so that the person can figure out what the good is. That’s the whole point. I think Dewey’s right in his first sentence when he said that if you want to know what a philosophy values, ask them how they would educate children? Well, I would educate children by doing my best to see that they love good things. I think that’s the whole job of education. Everything after that is learning how to turn a wrench,
Scott Hambrick 51:21
even reading riting And rithmetic. You think?
Karl Schudt 51:25
Yeah, that’s the point of it. I mean, reading literature is it’s pleasant on its own, it has its own value, but you ought to like the stuff that is good. And you ought to not like the stuff that is not good.
Scott Hambrick 51:42
Okay, can people who do not have a notion of the good actually educate the young, such that they can appreciate the good or that they seek it?
Karl Schudt 51:55
If you don’t know what it is, how do you even know where to point them? Yeah, and you’d have them reading 50 Shades of Grey for their literature,
Scott Hambrick 52:04
or To Kill a Mockingbird. I think at some point, we ought to try to find a way to do a show about homeschooling. You and I have had very, very different approaches. Yours is a much more rigorous approach than ours. We we basically unschooled ours for 10 years or longer.
Karl Schudt 52:25
And your children are monsters.
Scott Hambrick 52:28
Right, though? Yeah. I think that my kids know the good when they see it in reject the bad when they encounter it. And I think yours do too. So how does that happen? Through the two different approaches? You know, how does that happen? I think that that would be an interesting show to talk about. I have my ideas about that. But he’s not concerned with that at all, though, Karl
Karl Schudt 52:53
he doesn’t see it as a problem. I think he presumes that it’s obvious or somehow
Scott Hambrick 52:58
progress is good. Science is good. Yeah, your job is good. Democracies good.
Karl Schudt 53:06
I could pick out him for his historical errors, to 64. He thinks medieval society had no political citizenship and no community life in the civic sense. So I think that’s untrue. I think you read Dante, you’ll find that that’s certainly untrue. I gotta go to the end, I’m digging up a quote here. See, this is me using my notes I talked about not using your notes, not gonna use my notes to 75 the problem is a concrete one, how shall this and that definite factory and field operation be made to contribute to the educative release and growth of human capacities as well as to production of a large and reasonably cheap supply of material goods? So I wrote the good question, Mark, because I’m trying to figure out what he thinks the good is. Because, as Thomas Aquinas says, and you should believe him on this, that the end is first in conception and last and execution. You figure out what you’re going for, and then everything else follows. She said, I want to marry that girl. Well, then you start getting a haircut and getting in shape and talking to her, you know, the first thing you think is I’m gonna marry that girl. So the end comes first and then all of the means come second. So he’s got two things here, the educated release and growth of human capacities. There, that’s the meaning of life want to take your human capacities and release them and grow them
Scott Hambrick 54:41
so that we have production of a large and reasonably cheap supply of material goods?
Karl Schudt 54:46
Well, he doesn’t say this so that he says as well as
Scott Hambrick 54:51
as well as well, yeah, he doesn’t say that. That’s not fair on me, as well as but he puts those in parallel. The problem is one that by its own terms can be dealt with only by the continuous application of the scientific method of experimental observation and test. Those who feel in need of specific example of the connection between science and morals between natural facts and human values, we’ll find it here.
Karl Schudt 55:15
It seems obvious to him and I’m sitting here thinking, well, what are these human capacities? Should I want to grow them? I Epicurus, writes about this. Epicurious is the hedonist philosopher, the one that says that pleasure is the greatest good and so you would think he’s like, Hugh Hefner type but he’s not at all the guy lives like a monk. He lives in the garden needs. For him. Pleasure is a little cheese. Here we have one of his letters sent, please send me a pot of cheese. But he distinguishes there are there are natural pleasures and unnatural pleasures, the unnatural pleasures because they have no natural limit. They go on forever. Well, they’re both human capacities. How do I distinguish between them? How do I distinguish between the viewing of a beautiful sunset, and the pursuit of sexual degeneracy? Is one of them good? And one of them not?
Scott Hambrick 56:21
Well, experimental inquiry and firsthand observation should get us there, Karl. He says it on T 67.
Karl Schudt 56:30
Well, and if you can’t figure that out, how do you know what he says? material goods?
Scott Hambrick 56:38
Okay, yeah, good. It’s in and what
Karl Schudt 56:40
makes it a good? What makes it a good? Dear listener, we don’t post a video on YouTube. Scott’s having some trouble. How do you know it’s a good thing? If only we make more smartphones?
Scott Hambrick 57:03
at a low price
Karl Schudt 57:04
at a low price, so everybody can be connected to the porno Web. Internet instantly? Is that a good? How do you know if it’s a good? How do you know that it’s not a good? You if you don’t have a conception of human nature? Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe it is good. But if you don’t have a conception of human nature? In other words, if you don’t know, well, if you don’t know the formal cause and the final cause of the human being, you can’t answer these questions. And if John Dewey had had a liberal education, and had studied Aristotle’s four causes, he wouldn’t make this incredibly stupid blunder. Well, unless it was intentional,
Scott Hambrick 57:46
I think it’s intentional Karl, he, we can go look at his educational background. We know how old he is. He almost certainly read some Aristotle and the Greek he almost certainly read Homer, you know, good knowing where he went to school and his age. He got this sort of education. Now, you know, he’s writing this at a, you know, over 80 years old. So he got that education 60 years ago, 5560 years ago, 65 years ago. And he may have forgotten.
Karl Schudt 58:21
Scott Hambrick 58:22
Yeah, right. So this is one of the reasons why I recommend Karl, that we read Memoirs of a superfluous man by noc, he gets this kind of an education. And then he sees the progressives doing these things. And he sees himself tongue in cheek as superfluous. But he actually knows that the liberally educated person is the person that is best suited for proper society and proper life. That’s kind of what the book is about, you know, and it’s published right around the same time when the after the progressives have had their claws in society for 30 years or something like that.
Karl Schudt 58:57
You know what, so I want to diverge a little bit. So we have some liberally educated people, ADODB, or least who are getting there are doing their best. We’re not reading them in Greek and Latin, which is where you would do it 150 years ago, but, you know, we’re having people read Aristotle and Plato and Homer and you see what they do. So being able to determine ends for yourself. No, that’s the wrong way. Being able to attempt to recognize the true the good and the beautiful. And then make those be your ends. That’s a better way to say it. Okay, does not make you into a northeastern elite necessarily. It might make you plant carrots. Yeah, we got a whole bunch of people that are doing this sort of thing. That will would be better able to speak on human nature and the end goal of being a human than the world echo For him, and they’re planting taters.
Scott Hambrick 1:00:05
So Karl, maybe coined the phrase, the potato pills. At some has a ring to it. But it doesn’t. And me being who I am, I have said tater pill. And it seems as though the tater pill is getting some traction versus the potato pill. And I can’t help but notice that Karl didn’t say potato just now but said carrot. You’re gonna change it because you hate that so much. You’re gonna change it to like the turnip tablet, the carrot cap or the carrot capsule? Yes, something like that. Yeah. But see, this is why this is one of the things. Well, he says on 266, that historical illiteracy is thus the outstanding trait of those critics who urge return to the ideas of the Greek Greek medieval period, as the ideas of the two ages are the same, but because philosophers of the medieval period use some of the verbal formulas set forth by the philosophers the early period. No wrong. He is the one that has it has the historical illiteracy, I don’t think he understands the nature of the life of the common person of the medieval period, as I understand it, I understand in many ways that they would have been they’ve been freer, and would have had fewer pressures on them to pursue something that they did not see this the good. And, and the Greeks largely gave us the liberal education. Now he calls them verbal formulas. No, it’s a way of thinking. It’s a model for understanding the world that continued through the medieval period. They aren’t just formulas, it’s specific way of thinking and understanding things. And it’s a self reliant way of seeing things, you know, where Thomas starts with his understanding of motion, and builds an entire theology. Mm hmm. He has more ideas than that. But, you know, like Euclid starts with the definition of a point, and then builds an entire geometry on it. Thomas talks about motion. And that builds an entire theology upon that by sitting on his tablet, and using these quote unquote verbal formulas to understand the nature of the universe. And the truth of it is, is do we can’t stand for somebody to have that kind of horsepower. I don’t think he even knew it. But I think if we could somehow give him some sodium pentathol and ask him or hypnotize him with a you know, with a pocket watch or something, I think we would have gotten that from me.