State Education and the Banishment of Wisdom

This from Raffaella Cribiore’s Gymnastics of the Mind, on education in Late Antiquity:

[In Egypt, e]ducation became a powerful agent for preserving “Greekness” by maintaining fixed linguistic and social boundaries, excluding almost any form of Egyptian culture, and concentrating on transmitting Greek values, language, and literacy. Cultivated individuals and students considered themselves exiles of an ideal country—Greece—and yearned to belong to that distant world, of which they were citizens by virtue of the texts they read and the values they encountered through reading. Most of these Greeks in the Eastern world could not claim to be born in Greece or to be of recent Greek descent, but they could speak a common language, read and write in an artificial Greek of the past, and follow the same aesthetic and ethical ideals endorsed by education. A somewhat similar process, mutatis mutandis, can be observed over the last one hundred years in industrialized nations where schooling organized by the state has supported only one standardized national language, banished what were called “dialects” and the wisdom literature associated with them, and promoted a uniform standard of culture.


If those who serve worldly ends control education, they can slather all the lipstick and rouge they want on their pig, and call it “diversity” until they’re blue in the face, but the only reason why we’re going to buy it lies ultimately in the government’s power to coerce.

You can force me to take your ideology, but you can not force me to call it liberal. There’s nothing liberal about coercion.

“Meet it is I set it down that one may smile and smile and be a villain.”

Force always has and always will be the enemy of wisdom, because wisdom cannot be attained by the individual, and the individual as such is a creature bound by the laws of force.

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for your part in my blessing of living in a free society.


About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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