Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What ever happened to Socrates?

So, I have been reading a fair amount of Scottish philosophy in preparation for my masters program. When something struck me last night that scared me. In Adam Smith’s writings he discusses all of the benefits of capitalism, which boil down to true freedom in a sense that it has the most fluid social system allowing people to move from one class to the next and capitalism by nature produces more than it needs and creates an environment in which the even the most poor benefit. He said, “it is better to be a poor man in a rich country than a rich man in a poor country”, and to some effect this is true. However, Adam Ferguson has made a compelling point on the great disadvantages of capitalism. He believed that when you place a societal emphasis on making money and producing products, that morality and virtue bend to the will of the market. Adam Smith counters Ferguson’s ideas by saying that educating people in the history of humanity and the understanding of earlier cultural morality can prevent this lack of virtue from ever coming to fruition.

Now that I have said that I can explain what scares me. I think that not only is our government failing us, but our education system is also. We have a government which, lets be honest (regardless of party) is completely out of touch with the average person and for all intents and purposes is ran by businessmen. Then we have an educational system that is abandoning learning for completing benchmarks, there is a generation of kids that have facts memorized, but can’t think for themselves, and its easier for me to count people my age that have opinions on the world than the apathetic lazy asses that don’t care because it doesn’t effect their paycheck.

At least once a day I am asked what am I doing with my life, I reply by telling them I plan to go to graduate school to study Scottish political philosophy, without hesitation people smirk, furrow their eyebrows, frown, or even laugh at the idea, then the inevitable question, “What do you plan on doing with that…nothing” The question I have always wanted to ask in response was, I did not realize that learning was only worth something if it was vocational training. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I amck to life, I want to believe that peop smarter or better than anyone, but I do feel different. I feel different because I want to know that there is more than a paychele not only can do good, but will, but most of all I want to live a life dedicated to knowledge and understanding of what we are as a species.


wa11z said...

Yeah, people only sense value in a capitalist society by how much something is worth monetarily. What about induvidual worth? Or can you put a price on ideas? There is no new currency, only ideas.

Taylor said...

Thats what scares me, is that the more we globalize the more business will drive the world and the less we will appreciate things that have no monetary value. I know its lame and cliche, but I think its a slippery slope we are on.

fermicat said...

People want the monetary rewards without doing the work required to earn it. It takes years of hard work to become good at something. That is what I see missing in the younger generations that have had everything come to them so easily.

Sometimes we learn things for the pleasure of understanding the information, and not because it will help us make money. And sometimes people follow their hearts and don't try to maximize their salaries by selling their souls.

Glad to hear that you are going to study what interests you.

ctheokas said...

You can put a monetary value on ideas, because it's something Hollywood does all the time. And that is scary, though necessary in that line of business. But it's branching out into other areas all the time. A friend of mine is a font of great business ideas, and she's considered writing up business plans and selling them to the highest bidder. It's an interesting idea, in and of itself, and I've encouraged it. But what she plans on selling are processes (did I spell that right?).

Business will find a way to put a value even on Scottish philosophy, but I get the impression that value may not be very high.

Taylor said...

Haha, I am prepared to be poor... unless....I can find a sugar momma