Immanuel Kant, the dense and controversial 18th century German philosopher, railed his students for being Cyclops. “What constitutes them as Cyclops is not their strength,” Fredeirich Paulsen points out, “but the fact that they only have one eye; they see things only from a single standpoint, that of their own specialty.” The task of philosophy and learning, according to Kant, is to furnish us with a second eye. According to Kant, “The second eye is the self-knowledge of human reason, without which we can have no proper estimate of the extent of our knowledge.” While we may argue with Kant concerning the identity of the second eye, or what it should be, his point that education broadens one’s perspective is indisputable.
The classics “lift the readers out of narrowness and provincialism into a wider vision of humanity.” They help us see our lives, our vocations, and our culture through a broad lens. Polymaths such as Plato, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, Milton, and Jefferson were able to draw from a sea of ideas found in the ancients. They studied math, science, history, economics, theology, philosophy, literature, and virtually everything else. From their broadly informed perspectives, the great thinkers of the West were able to make incredible contributions to society and move from one subject to another with ease and enjoyment. Their immersion in and facility with the classics provided a liberating, expansive, two-eyed vision that enriched their understanding and mitigated the narrow short-sightedness of specialization and provincialism.
Our prayer at The Society for Classical Learning is that our kids will be equipped with a strong foundation and a broad perspective to serve for the glory of God. We are fully invested in catalyzing and resourcing a rapidly growing movement of schools around the country. Let us know how we can help!