Sunday, November 20, 2005

Why I want to become a teacher

Great quote from Cornel West's Democracy Matters:

"As the wise and reluctant democrat Matthew Arnold, an English critic and poet, concluded in his classic Culture and Anarchy(1869):

...but in his own breast does not every man carry about with him a possible Socrates, in that power of a disinterested play of consciousness upon his stock notions and habits, of which this wise and admirable man gave all through his lifetime the great example, and which was the secret of his incomparable influence? And he who leads men to call forth and exercise in themselves this power, and who busily calls it forth and exercises it in himself, is at the present moment, perhaps, as Socrates was in his time, more in concert with the vital working of men's minds, and more effectually significant, than any... practical operator in politics.

All in all, West's book wasn't that impressive. His concerns about American democracy strike me as obvious to anyone who has the slightest inclination to look into the American masses and the American elite. All you need is a third-grade imagination to think about the corrupt political/economic elites and the somnambulant masses. His emphasis on the Socratic questioning, tragicomic, and prophetic is just a variation on an old theme.


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