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Escape from Scepticism: Liberal Education As If Truth Mattered [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   151
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 4.75" Height: 7"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 2001
Publisher   Ignatius Press
ISBN  0898708486  
EAN  9780898708486  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Escape from Scepticism: Liberal Education As If Truth Mattered by Christopher Derrick

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
The only blueprint?  May 9, 2004
Dr. Derrick has written a quite wonderful book. I wish we had more scholars like him, and more philosophers to think and write about the liberal arts. And one cannot but be impressed by that college in Ojai, although it appears to be a response to the spiritual upheaval caused by Vatican II without the critical distance toward that disastrous event. In the true liberal tradition Dr. Derrick should have dug deeper.
And the author fails to tell us anywhere why a recrudescence of the liberal arts must be Catholic, rather than catholic. Many are happy that Dr. Derrick's college is pointing the way, but a true and lasting revalorization of the arts in the 21st century, while taking into account religious truth, must be outside the gust of denominationalism.
Conversation is not an adequate substitute for investigation  Dec 6, 2003
Christopher Derrick's paean to the curriculum at Thomas Aquinas College is too uncritical of that curriculum, which promotes one particular variety of "Great Books" program. The program has its strengths, but it also has its weaknesses.

"Great Books" programs are often touted as "conversations with history's greatest minds". But there is a danger of narrowness in a Great Books program that is long on discussing abstract words and short on investigating and evaluating real phenomena firsthand. I believe John Ray, who is frequently called "the father of natural history in Britain", said it best when he wrote the following, in _The Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of the Creation_ (1691):

"Let it not suffice to be book-learned, to read what others have written and to take upon trust more falsehood than truth, but let us ourselves examine things as we have opportunity, and converse with Nature as well as with books."

It is not enough simply to read and discuss Aristotle. To achieve a truly first-class liberal education, one must also emulate him, and recognize that he was one of the ancient world's most gifted, dedicated, and habitual observers of physical, social and biological phenomena. As he wrote, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." Aristotle's habit of independent, personal observation is at least as important a part of his great legacy to the Western world as is his development of formal logic, and its development in the student deserves at least as much attention in a curriculum devoted to the student's liberal education.

A true liberal education will not neglect the habit of observing God's works directly for oneself. The possessor of a true liberal education will be able to develop new insights from his own personal experience, and to describe for others what he has seen and experienced as clearly and vividly as the 19th-century Scottish geologist Hugh Miller did in the following passage from his mid-century book _My Schools and Schoolmasters_:

"The Hill of Cromarty is a huge primary mass, upheaved of old from the abyss, and composed chiefly of granitic gneiss and a red splintery hornstone. It contains also numerous veins and beds of hornblend rock, of which the quartz is white as milk, and the feldspar red as blood."

Truth does matter. Grounding the pursuit of truth in personal experience and personal investigation matters even more. This book needed to make that point, and didn't.

A Travel Guide ...  May 5, 2003
Mr. Derrick narrates his introduction to Thomas Aquinas College in California and its novel experiment of re-establishing a traditional liberal arts education. By illuminating the contrast between what education has degraded to in the West and this experiment in its restoration, Mr. Derrick provides the same excellent service found in other works on the subject, such as Allan Bloom's _The Closing of the American Mind_ and James Schall's _A Different Sort of Learning_.

My only hesitation preventing me from giving this book 5 stars - and this may be an problem within the entire domain of restoring the liberal arts education, so perhaps the author is not to be blamed - is its stress on Catholic faith as a prerequisite to this sort of learning.

If our polity is truly interested in restoring the intellectual basis that will revitalize and assure the continuation of a free civilization and culture, then this sort of education project must be extended past the confines of the Church.


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