601 – The Education of a Free Man: Introduction to the Liberal Arts

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Term: August 24 – December 14, 2022
Class Time: Wednesdays 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST
Credits: 3
Instructor: Dr. D.T. Sheffler

What does it mean for a man to be free? How does a man use his freedom well? These questions address the heart of the classical distinction between the liberal arts (Latin liber = free) and the servile or mechanical arts. A “liberal” education refers to the steps that lead away (e-ducere = to lead out) from the default, easy, servile starting point of our unrefined nature (erudition = being shaped and refined, i.e. not being rudus or “unformed”) to the full life befitting a free man. In this course, we will explore the tradition of liberal learning from Plato to Karl Marx, examining these questions from all sides. We will ask what it means to be truly educated, what education is for, and what kind of freedom is desirable for man. Hopefully, this will lay a foundation for your other courses at Memoria College as you establish a basic understanding of what all these classes are about.

We will read: Plato, Apology, Crito, Republic I–II; Sophocles, Oedipus the King, Antigone; Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics I, Politics I; Plutarch, Lives “Lycurgus and Numa Compared,” “Alexander,” “Caesar”; Job; Augustine Confessions I–VIII; Montaigne Essays (selections); Shakespeare, Hamlet; Locke, Second Essay on Government; Swift, Gulliver’s Travels; Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 15–16; Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Federalist Papers (selections); Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party.