By Karl Schudt, Seminar Host

Here at Online Great Books, we are very happy to have attracted some highly credentialed people. It is a good thing that they have achieved much in the realm of academia because it shows something about their character and perseverance. To you all, welcome!

But, on the other hand, academic credentialism is not what’s important. Credentials, schemedentials! We are not in business to provide credentials or to be a club for those who have letters after their names to congregate. This is not a gentlemen’s club for educated gentlemen. Rather, it is an attempt to build a stairway out of the cave that Socrates talks about. It is possible that the credentialed among us are deeper in the cave than the rest of us. There’s no one so fashionable and in tune with the spirit of the age than an academic philosopher!

We share the conviction with Socrates that the best life for humans is the examined life. The life of the best and highest activity of the best part within us, as Aristotle would put it. The books we read and the seminars we provide are ways for us to do this, and this contemplative life is open, in principle, to everyone.

We encourage all of the members to contribute, to share what Aristotle calls the divine element within us. We all have our own glimpse of truth, of the way things really are. By sharing this view with others, we get a better and more complete glimpse. The amount of academic credentials you have has no bearing on how well you can see. In fact, if you did it wrong, the time you spent in class fulfilling the requirements for your degree may have actually plunged you deeper into the cave.

Please do not be shy. Speak up! Say what you think. Give us all the benefit of your divine spark.

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