09 February 2009

We Aren't As Smart We May Think

Education means the highest possible development of individual's curiosity, wrote Alfred Kazin in Esquire. "Curiosity helps us to see through the existing culture, to realize that the human race is never appreciably more intelligent than it used to be.

We are just as superstitious and ignorant as our ancestors ever were. But it is harder to realize this than it once was. "The easy skills of a technological mass society, founded more and more on tasks that take more training than thought, make it dangerously for us to think we know what we don't know of. Of course, people cannot afford to admit their ignorance. In a mercilessly competitive society where people lie to others and then to themselves, intellectual deterioration becomes irrevocable." Commenting on today's education crisis, Kazin notes, "Anyone who knows what is going on in our schools knows that the problem is not that students don't read classics but that they don't think the world can go under, that the world is as mechanical and usable as switching on the lights and the TV sets. Students do not realize how much human intelligence may be needed to save us from the catastrophes too-practical intelligence has inflicted on us. The world is so full of social disease- environmental cancer, nuclear leaks and possible explosions, violent collisions, and above all, wars in unending chain - that it should be the first task of intelligence at least to confront these horrors."

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