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« Han Feizi on the Economic Crisis | Main | George Will is not a Sage King »

February 25, 2009

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Hi Sam,

I could not agree more with this. I wrote this post below several months ago from a very similar feeling and copy the link here in case you are interested. I could not agree more that if one tackles this issue from the perspective of "efficiency" their argument will most likely be doomed to fail. And, I agree that it comes down to moving beyond this notion. Usefulness and efficient as significantly differentiated-- there is also the notion of a classical education (as opposed to the useful learning provided to slaves)

Anyway, I really appreciated this post.

I also will be adding one more short (short but sweet!) comment to the other issue at my place later.

View from Inside a Bronze Ding

This is a ringing defense of a certain kind of "uselessness", and I hope that it receives a wider hearing. BUT, people have genuine concerns about the fast-rising costs of collegiate education, and how those costs might limit not which topics they value, but which ones they actually feel able to study. What are your thoughts about how your defense of "uselessness" can simultaneously assuage those concerns?

Thanks, Peony.
philosoraptor,
It seems to me that paying for college and what one studies in college are rather distinct things. If a person majors in economics (we do not have accounting and finance majors at my college; it is strictly liberal arts), which might be seen to be more useful than ancient Chinese philosophy, he or she pays the same amount as anyone else. I am not aware of more "useful" courses of study costing any less than supposedly "useless" majors. Of course, there is an expectation that the econ major will get a better paying job afterward and thus be in a better position to pay back loans, etc. But that outcome depends on other variables. I suspect a truly excellent English major can create as many opportunities (or at least forge a comfortable and, perhaps more importantly, satisfying life) as a econ major with low grades and weak writing habits. How you do is just as important as what you do (which is an idea we can take from Zhuangzi's Cook Ting story).
So, yes, college education is too expensive. But those expenses should not be an insuperable barrier to the pursuit of "useless" knowledge....

I love the story of the useless tree. It is one of my favorites from Chuang Tzu's text. It is also fascinating when reading the outer chapters and learn of how Chuang Tzu uses people with deformity to teach us important lessons. Living in this society I am constantly being aware of the pressure to perform and be productive and the wisdom of the useless is so transformative for me.

humanities: free free free

liberal arts: free free free

social sciences: free free free.

you can spend 24/7/365 days of the year and read all the literature, arts free free free at:

1. library

2. bookstore

3. google. yahoo. web.

2-billion people on Net

Free Free Free

if you love literature. philosphy arts, thinking writing, talking. ever thought it is all free free free at starbucks.

1. library bookstore.

2. PBS Cable TV

3. Web. google yahoo.

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