16、Some people believe that in order to be effective, political leaders must yield to public opinion and abandon principle for the sake of compromise. Others believe that the most essential quality of an effective leader is the ability to remain consistently committed to particular principles and objectives.
19、Governments should focus on solving the immediate problems of today rather than on trying to solve the anticipated problems of the future.
50Government officials should rely on their own judgment rather than unquestioningly carry out the will of the people they serve.
60Politicians should pursue common ground and reasonable consensus rather than elusive ideals.
“The goal of politics should not be the pursuit of an ideal, but rather the search for common ground and reasonable consensus.”
Should educators focus equally on enriching students’ personal lives and on job preparation, as the speaker contends? In my view, preparing students for the mundane aspects of work should be secondary to providing a broader education that equips students with historical and cultural perspective, as well as thoughtful and principled personal value systems and priorities. Paradoxically, it is through the liberal studies, which provide these forms of personal enrichment, that students can also best prepare for the world of work.
One reason why educators should emphasize personal enrichment over job preparation is that rote technical knowledge and skill do not help a student determine which goals in life are worthwhile and whether the means of attaining those goals are ethically or morally acceptable. Liberal studies such as philosophy, history, and comparative sociology enable students to develop thoughtful and consistent value systems and ethical standards, by which students can determine how they can best put their technical knowledge and skills to use in the working world. Thus, by nurturing the development of thoughtful personal value systems, educators actually help prepare students for their jobs and careers.
Another reason why educators should emphasize personal enrichment over job preparation is that specific knowledge and skills needed for jobs are changing more and more quickly. Thus it would be a waste of our education system to focus on specific knowledge and skills that will soon become obsolete–at the expense of providing a lasting and personally satisfying educational experience. It seems more appropriate today for employers to provide the training our work force needs to perform their jobs, freeing up our educators to help enrich students’ lives in ways that will serve them in any walk of life.
A third reason why educators should emphasize personally enriching course work–particularly anthropology, sociology, history, and political philosophy–is that these courses help students understand, appreciate, and respect other people and their viewpoints. As these students grow into working adults they will be better able to cooperate, compromise, understand various viewpoints, and appreciate the rights and duties of coworkers, supervisors, and subordinates. Rote technical knowledge and skill do little to help us get along with other people.
Admittedly, certain aspects of personal enrichment, especially spirituality and religion, should be left for parents and churches to provide; after all, by advocating teachings of any particular religion, public educators undermine our basic freedom of religion. Yet it is perfectly appropriate, and useful, to inform students about various religious beliefs, customs and institutions. Learning about different religions instills respect, tolerance, and understanding. Moreover, students grow to appreciate certain fundamental virtues, such as compassion, virtue, and humility, which all major religions share. Through this appreciation students grow into adults who can work well together toward mutually agreed-upon goals.
In sum, it is chiefly through the more personally enriching Liberal studies that educators help students fully blossom into well-rounded adults and successful workers. There will always be a need to tram people for specific jobs, of course. However, since knowledge is advancing so rapidly, employers and job-training programs are better equipped to provide this function, leaving formal educators free to provide a broader, more personally enriching education that will serve students throughout their lives and in any job or career.
86 Some people believe that government officials must carry out the will of the people they serve. Others believe that officials should base their decisions on their own judgment.
139 Claim: Major policy decisions should always be left to politicians and other government experts.
Reason: Politicians and other government experts are more informed and thus have better judgment and perspective than do members of the general public.
8、Claim: In any field—business, politics, education, government—those in power should step down after five years.
Reason: The surest path to success for any enterprise is revitalization through new leadership.
9、In any field of endeavor, it is impossible to make a significant contribution without first being strongly influenced by past achievements within that field.
27、In any field of inquiry, the beginner is more likely than the expert to make important contributions.
41The greatness of individuals can be decided only by those who live after them, not by their contemporaries.
“The greatness of individuals can be decided only by those who live after them, not by their contemporaries.”
Can a person’s greatness be recognized only in retrospect, by those who live after the person, as the speaker maintains? In my view the speaker unfairly generalizes. In some areas, especially the arts, greatness is often recognizable in its nascent stages. However, in other areas, particularly the physical sciences, greatness must be tested over time before it can be confirmed. In still other areas, such as business, the incubation period for greatness varies from case to case.
We do not require a rear-view mirror to recognize artistic greatness–whether in music, visual arts, or literature. The reason for this is simple: art can be judged at face value. There’s nothing to be later proved or disproved, affirmed or discredited, or even improved upon or refined by further knowledge or newer technology. History is replete with examples of artistic greatness immediately recognized, then later confm-ned. Through his patronage, the Pope recognized Michelangelo’s artistic greatness, while the monarchs of Europe immediately recognized Mozart’s greatness by granting him their most generous commissions. Mark Twain became a best-selling author and household name even during his lifetime. And the leaders of the modernist school of architecture marveled even as Frank Lloyd Wright was elevating their notions about architecture to new aesthetic heights.
By contrast, in the sciences it is difficult to identify greatness without the benefit of historical perspective. Any scientific theory might be disproved tomorrow, thereby demoting the theorist’s contribution to the status of historical footnote. Or the theory might withstand centuries of rigorous scientific scrutiny. In any event, a theory may or may not serve as a springboard for later advances in theoretical science. A current example involves the ultimate significance of two opposing theories of physics: wave theory and quantum theory. Some theorists now claim that a new so-called ”string” theory reconciles the two opposing theories–at least mathematically. Yet “strings” have yet to be confirmed empirically. Only time will tell whether string theory indeed provides the unifying laws that all matter in the universe obeys. In short, the significance of contributions made by theoretical scientists cannot be judged by their contemporaries–only by scientists who follow them.
In the realm of business, in some cases great achievement is recognizable immediately, while in other cases it is not. Consider on the one hand Henry Ford’s assembly-line approach to manufacturing affordable cars for the masses. Even Ford could not have predicted the impact his innovations would have on the American economy and on the modern world. On the other hand, by any measure, Microsoft’s Bill Gates has made an even greater contribution than Ford; after all, Gates is largely responsible for lifting American technology out of the doldrums during the 1970s to restore America to the status of economic powerhouse and technological leader of the world. And this contribution is readily recognizable now–as it is happening. Of course, the DOS and Windows operating systems, and even Gates’ monopoly, might eventually become historical relics. Yet his greatness is already secured.
In sum, the speaker overlooks many great individuals, particularly in the arts and in business, whose achievements were broadly recognized as great even during their own time. Nevertheless, other great achievements, especially scientific ones, cannot be confirmed as such without the benefit of historical perspective.
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