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General Education

When I encounter the term “general education” I get nervous as much as when I hear the term “general public”. As nothing like general public exists so there is nothing like general education.

Each education is either very specific (and therefore not general), or it is not an education at all! (The same applies to publics). In the case of education, it is even more important to handle with words carefully and attentively.

Why?

Western euphoria

If we feel that Pre-Socratic thinkers represent a role model of a person, that was still able to keep track of all knowledge in one head, we then feel sorry for all later thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, and other great minds of the western origin, that could not any more. There is a common-sense mourning that after Socrates universal thinkers of are over forever. Geometry, arithmetic, medicine … are being separated from the universality of philosophy.

Specialization of sciences took even faster pace from the Renaissance on so that nowadays we would not have been more surprised if someone opens up a separate Department of the left tibia in one research center, and for the right tibia in the second. It is especially medicine (Western) that is every day demonstrating myopia of myopic specialization. But does this already imply that there is also un-myopic specialization existing?

Where lies the catch? Western euphoria pushed us into a positive belief that the amount of knowledge that mankind has created is so extensive, that no computer, let alone a single man can get it whole. From here the belief comes, that we have to forget everything else, if we want to be good in one area. Focus, focus, focus. Somehow, we are aware that this euphoria produces doctors who see the bone, but not a person; physicists, that knows everything about basic particles, but knows nothing about chemistry; biologists, that cannot cross the threshold of medical science; …; and similar delusions of contemporary segregation.

What we feel is that knowledge is much larger than each individual.

Un-myopic specialization

But in notion that knowledge transcends every individual, already lays the answer that helps us trespassing segregation. Only the words should be taken with care: knowledge (as meme complex) has actually always been wider as individual. By accepting this fact, we stop worry about the quantity and start to take the quality of participation on knowledge as important. We are talking here about a principle that has been successfully practiced by the Eastern cultures. (Forgive me my own generalization here.) It is for this conservative approach to life (among others) that their (Eastern) potential is much higher than Western. Their practical life experience is very simple and very robust at the same time: they do not ignore the moment for the sake of eternity. They know that each moment brings eternity in itself. Translated in relation to science, we could say: do not worry about universal since you are wise enough to see universal in a single scientific discovery.

Un-myopic specialization would therefore follow eastern practice that each individual hyper-specialization (a pragmatic necessity accepting the fact that there are 7 billion people living on Earth while there were around 1million 70.000 years ago) would constantly think itself in the context of other specialties. This does not mean that doctors could compete with physicists of elementary particles, but that they should abandon comfortable position of isolation and confront their time devoted to specialization with the results of other sciences. We would be surprised how much “extra” time we would find saving mistakes that originate from deluded isolationism.

Homonists as working philosophers

The prerequisite of such move would be to allow the possibility that there are different paths existing and not only the one implied by Western political correctness. By “political correctness” I do not aim at the daily politics, but the infatuation of Western particularized mindset. In this Western context, it is simply not possible to think of us differently as the managers (and the prisoners) of technology. This mindset fixes our daily goals to master piece by piece our environment (in broader sense of this word). This particularism has apparently got rid of God; but put a man itself in the role of God. We do perform God each time managing particular technological items. In recognition that a demiurge does not exist, the man fled into the illusion that at least one tibia exists, or at least one basic particle, that he can master at the end. Such illusion gives him a power to master the world (and possibly the universe). Political correctness is in fact a driver of short-sighted specializations.

The thesis therefore is that the wise are not wise because they would address all specialties, still less because they would address universality (being not possible at all), but those who know how to balance the special (limited) knowledge with as many parallel special knowledges’. Wise understand that sociology is in fact powered by the theory of complex systems, that is pumped from the system dynamics, that is the daughter of physics, that was conceived from Darwinism and considerations of Neo-Darwinism, that finds its strength in chemistry (and so on …). Philosopher, a humanist, must now primarily perform physics and physicists are in fact the working philosophers. If today this acknowledgement is not yet possible, if it is not possible to capitalize it in the school system, then at least cracks that occur daily in each of these sciences, trauma, which is the daily partner of sighted specialists, suggest the emergence of homonism as post short-sighted and myopic western reductionism.

Andrej Drapal

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