After spending several years in central Africa, where his parents, the anthropologists Victor W. Turner, were conducting field research, Frederick Turner was educated at the University of Oxfordwhere he obtained the degrees of B. He was naturalized as a U.
The necessary staple of the life of such a world Plato regards with disdain; handicraft and trade and the working professions he regards with disdain; but what becomes of the life of an industrial modern community if you take handicraft and trade and the working professions out of it?
The base mechanic arts and handicrafts, says Plato, bring about a natural weakness in the principle of excellence in a man, so that he cannot govern the ignoble growths in him, but nurses them, and cannot understand fostering any other.
Those who exercise such arts and trades, as they have their bodies, he says, marred by their vulgar businesses, so they have their souls, too, bowed and broken by them.
And if one of these uncomely people has a mind to seek self and philosophy, Plato compares him to a bald little tinker, who has scraped together money, and has got his release from service, and has had a bath, and bought a new coat, and is rigged out like a bridegroom about to marry the daughter of his master who has fallen into poor and helpless estate.
Nor do the working professions fare any better than trade at the hands of Plato. He draws for us an inimitable picture of the working lawyer, and of his life of bondage; he shows how this bondage from his youth up has stunted and warped him, and made him small and crooked of soul, encompassing him with difficulties which he is not man enough to rely on justice and truth as means to encounter, but has recourse, for help out of them, to falsehood and wrong.
And so, says Plato, this poor creature is bent and broken, and grows up from boy to man without a particle of soundness in him, although exceedingly smart and clever in his own esteem. One cannot refuse to admire the artist who draws these pictures. But we say to ourselves that his ideas show the influence of a primitive and obsolete order of things, when the warrior caste and the priestly caste were alone in honour, and the humble work of the world was done by slaves.
We have now changed all that; the modern majesty consists in work, as Emerson declares; and in work, we may add, principally of such plain and dusty kind as the work of cultivators of the ground, handicraftsmen, men of trade and business, men of the working professions.
Above all is this hue in a great industrious community such as that of the United States. Now education, many people go on to say, is still mainly governed by the ideas of men like Plato, who lived when the warrior caste and the priestly or philosophical class were alone in honour, and the really useful part of the community were slaves.
It is an education fitted for persons of leisure in such a community. This education passed from Greece and Rome to the feudal communities of Europe, where also the warrior caste and the priestly caste were alone held in honour, and where the really useful and working part of the community, though not nominally slaves as in the pagan world, were practically not much better off than slaves, and not more seriously regarded.
And how absurd it is, people end by saying, to inflict this education upon an industrious modern community, where very few indeed are persons of leisure, and the mass to be considered has not leisure, but is bound, for its own great good, and for the great good of the world at large, to plain labour and to industrial pursuits, and the education in question tends necessarily to make men dissatisfied with these pursuits and unfitted for them!
That is what is said. So far I must defend Plato, as to plead that his view of education and studies is in the general, as it seems to me, sound enough, and fitted for all sorts and conditions of men, whatever their pursuits may be.
If the usual education handed down to it from the past does not suit it, it will certainly before long drop this and try another.
The usual education in the past has been mainly literary. The question is whether the studies which were long supposed to be the best for all of us are practically the best now, whether others are not better.
The tyranny of the past, many think, weighs on us injuriously in the predominance given to letters in education.
The question is raised whether, to meet the needs of our modern life, the predominance ought not now to pass from letters to science; and naturally the question is nowhere raised with more energy than here in the United States.
The design of abasing what is called "mere literary instruction and education," and of exalting what is called "sound, extensive, and practical scientific knowledge," is in this intensely modern world of the United States, even more perhaps than in Europe, a very popular design, and makes great and rapid progress.
I am going to ask whether the present movement for ousting letters from their old predominance in education, and for transferring the predominance in education to the natural sciences, whether this brisk and flourishing movement ought to prevail, and whether it is likely that in the end it really will prevail.
An objection may be raised which I will anticipate. My own studies have been almost wholly in letters and my visits to the field of the natural sciences have been very slight and inadequate, although those sciences have always strongly moved my curiosity.
A man of letters, it will perhaps be said, is not competent to discuss the comparative merits of letters and natural science as means of education. To this objection I reply, first of all that his incompetence, if he attempts the discussion but is really incompetent for it, will be abundantly visible; nobody will be taken in he will have plenty of sharp observers and critics to save mankind from that danger.
But the line I am going to follow is, as you will soon discover, so extremely simple, that perhaps it may be followed without failure even by one who for a more ambitious line of discussion would be quite incompetent.
Some of you may possibly remember a phrase of mine which has been the object of a good deal of comment, an observation to the effect that in our culture, the aim being to know ourselves and the world, we have, as the means to this end, to know the best which has been thought and said in the world.
Special local and temporary advantages being put out of account, that modern nation will in the intellectual and spiritual sphere make most progress, which most thoroughly carries out this programme. But it is not by any means clear, says he, that after having learnt all which ancient and modern literatures have to tell us, we have laid a sufficiently broad and deep foundation for that criticism of life, that knowledge of ourselves and the world, which constitutes culture.
On the contrary, Professor Huxley declares that he finds himself "wholly unable to admit that either nations or individuals will really advance, if their outfit draws nothing from the stores of physical science.
An army without weapons of precision, and with no particular base of operations, might more hopefully enter upon a campaign on the Rhine, than a man, devoid of a knowledge of what physical science has done in the last century, upon a criticism of life. What Professor Huxley says, implies just the reproach which is so often brought against the study of belles lettres, as they are called: Renan talks of the "superficial humanism" of a school-course which treats us as if we were all going to be poets, writers, preachers, orators, and he opposes this humanism to positive science, or the critical search after truth.
And there is always a tendency in those who are remonstrating against the predominance of letters in education, to understand by letters belles lettres, and by belles lettres a superficial humanism, the opposite of science or true knowledge.Natural Classicism: Essays on Literature and Science by Frederick J.
Turner and a great selection of related books, art and collectibles available now at initiativeblog.com Dreams and nightmares:science and technology in myth and fiction Natural classicism:essays on literature and science /by Frederick Turner.
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by Turner, Frederick, Publication date Topics Literature and science. Internet Archive Books.
Scanned in China. natural classicism essays on literature and science paperback by turner clinical and translational science principles of human research natural classicism essays on. He is a founder of the literary-critical school known as Natural Classicism.
His three most recent books of essays and his monograph on beauty explore these ideas. A founder and board member of the International School of Theory in the Humanities, and the Georgia-based Institute of Global Studies, he has helped create institutions that express.
Natural Classicism: Essays on Literature and Science [Frederick Turner] on initiativeblog.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Natural Classicism is a work like no other- far-reaching, even visionary in its examination of the interconnectedness of nature and human endeavor.
The book showcases Turner's exploration of- and attempt to integrate- principles of literature5/5(1).