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What is a Liberal Education? 1

Abstract

I DO not intend, in the present paper, to enter upon the disputed question between the advocates of classical culture on the one hand, and those of scientific training on the other; because it seems to me that the line on which the two parties divide is not that which really divides the thought of the day. If we look closely into the case, we shall see that the objects of a higher education may be divided into three classes, instead of the two familiar ones of liberal and professional. In fact, what we commonly call a liberal education should, I think, have two separate objects. With the idea of a professional education we are all familiar: it is that which enables the possessor to pursue with advantage some wealth-producing specialty. Although, in accordance with well-known economic principles, it is designed to make the individual useful to his fellow-men, the ultimate object in view is the gaining of a livelihood by the individual himself. On the other hand, the object had in view in what is commonly known as culture is not the mere gaining of a livelihood, but the acquisition of those ideas, and the training of those powers, which conduce to the happiness of the individual. From this point of view culture may be considered an end unto itself.

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