Psyche & the Value of Liberal Arts Education

Author: Andy Amato, PhD
The ancient Greek soul (psyche) seems to find its greatest powers in the ability to be fascinated or awed, an insatiable appetite for all things beautiful, and a habituated talent for apprehending details and vividly recounting them. Add to this an ethos that holds personal excellence above all other characteristics (be it Homeric or Socratic arete) and you have an equation for a heroic culture, one that produces immortal figures, timeless works, and perpetual ideas.

The contemporary Western mind (psyche), conversely, subdues awe with flitting curiosity, cosmetic confusion, and an undisciplined predisposition for missing details and offering derivative, flat reductions. Add to this an ethos that advances aspirations of celebrity without personal excellence (of any perceivable type whatsoever) and you have an unbalanced equation for a glittery and shallow culture, one that produces forgettable figures, self-important works, and uninspiring conceptions.

This is why what Humanities and Liberal Arts teachers do in the classroom is now more important than ever. It’s not that we’re holding off the intellectual and critical apocalypse; it’s that it’s already here and we need to keep looking for survivors – just in case the species makes it through this thing, we’ll need lovers of the life of the mind, the lush and descriptive word, and all things truly sublime.

About thepoetsglass

Professor, poet, philosophical dilettante, plus some other impressively heady alliterations. Instructional designer and copywriter. Cognitive neuroscientist by night. Self-diagnosed coffee addict, sometime dancer, brooding bibliophile, and an always salty sailor.
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