Liberal Education and Critical Thinking Essay

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For actions of the common good to become prominent in the world a broad and varying set of circumstances must be enacted within society. The common good results from the participation and efforts of individuals and the masses. It is not specifically defined as the common good but as a common good as it is based on the wellness and warfare of a majority. Depending on time, place, and social condition creates what could be considered a common good for the set type of majority. A common good can only be achieved through community action eventually bringing good to the individuals. The common good needs people to experience liberation, perform valued work, inclusiveness of all, and a balance of all and of the individual. The common good cannot be attainable if there is no passion for work if people only focus on individual gain, and if people are unable to learn how to function without the oppression of others.

To act in the common good, citizens need to acknowledge and participate in the global community. A liberal education can best teach a deeper understanding of one another. By being able to observe the world from different perspectives a person can “conduct business in a reflective way”. (Nussbaum) To do so we look at the “arts as modes of intelligent perception.” (Nussbaum) More so, people need to develop the ability to “think for themselves rather than differing to authority.” (Nussbaum) It is one thing to be taught a standard practice, but it is another thing to be taught how to critical thinking. To right, the wrongs of the world will take people challenging the demands of authority. Society must learn of one another’s ways 'based on the idea of inclusive global citizenship and on the possibility of the compassionate imagination has to transcend division created by distance, cultural differences, and mistrust.' A way of doing so is by sharing the expensive experiences of one another and finding relations to those we do not know the perspective of.

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'A liberal arts college or university that helps young people learn to speak in their own voices and to respect the voices of others will have done a great deal to produce thoughtful and potentially creative world citizens.' (Nussbaum) With that individuals should not coward one another differences as we naturally want to do. With such diversity among our population '… we struggle to position ourselves in a world that is interdependent, in which only international cooperation will solve problems of hunger, disease, and environmental degradation and produce the possibility of a stable peace among nations.' (Nussbaum) Isolation is not an option if society wants to survive and come closer to the common good. We cannot fear the unknown. Through a liberal education, society gets that much closer to acting for the common good. Experiences should not be preserved just as a member of a community among the vast communities but as a “citizen of the world.” (Nussbaum) What we should strive for is the liberation of the mind.

The common good requires work. Work requires passion and work for the common good should be for the worth of the work itself. The worth of work should not lead to the expectation of other rewards, for “work is the natural exercise and function of man.” (Sayers) We are to serve work as it is to serve us as work is “not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do.” (Sayer) As work gives us purpose, we in return give genuine work value. The value of work is immeasurable despite our instincts to put a price on it.

Although, we create man-made currency “we have had to learn the bitter lesson that in all the world there are only two sources of real wealth: the fruit of the earth and the labor of men; and to estimate work not by the money it brings to the producer, but by the worth of the thing that is made.”(Sayers) To work for something other than the worth leads the correlation between the “increase in value of the world of things is directly proportional to the decrease in value of the human world.” (Marx) Again, “the only true way of serving the community is to be truly in sympathy with the community, to be oneself part of the community and then to serve the work without giving the community another thought.” (Sayers) Thus, working towards the common good requires participation in the community, as the first section of readings implied, but also takes the genuine work of the communities’ citizens.

The common good is good for all, and as an individual within the all, it is also good for the individual. “humans are social beings, and the kind of creatures we become depends crucially on the social, cultural, and institutional circumstances of our lives.” (Dewey) We are as a group hence a population or an institution because of those instincts of socializing. Again, here isolation is not a derivative of the common good and handicaps an individual’s ability to better the group or even themselves. The way '...the human being is free only to the extent that he or she participates in that is common to all...” meaning chance encounters define what being free is and is not. (Deneulin 372)

Despite the way individuals can be put into groups the common good is for all groups and not just one. The common good is not solely good for the individual as “…the shared life of interaction with others is a good in itself.” (Deneulin 369) “It is a ‘good proper to, and attainable only by, the community, yet individually shared by its members’”. (Deneulin 367) The good of the individual in the long run on the good of the whole. Without good for the whole, there cannot be good for the individual. “The good of each community member cannot be separated from the good of the community as a whole” (Deneulin 367).To work towards the common good which is “…a good shared by all, does not hence sacrifice individual flourishing for the sake of the group. Enhancing the flourishing of the group does enhance in the long run the flourishing of the individual” (Deneulin 369).

The ways of oppression cannot be present with the consistency of the common good. Ultimately to achieve the best of society there is no room for oppression as the common good is entitled to all. Citizens can be blinded to the systems and effects of oppression due to it being perceived as normal. The oppressor and the oppressed One is the notations that some are simply superior to others. The assumption of one is the disvaluing of another as a standard woven within our norms. Society needs diversity to advance its communities. Yet, there are so many factors that frighten people from becoming aware of each other. This fear builds the argumentative mentality of us vs. them. This being a collective problem is also embedded in our society, while an individual’s problems lie in one’s actions.

Those with money and power are devoted to individual gain in a system they create for themselves. Society has branded the population against one another which hurts everyone despite those who can successfully exploit it. Having wealth gives the benefit of the doubt, where they are the ones who have certainty. Ultimately, self-interest makes the world unstable. The systematic oppression of any kind, race, sexuality, gender, economic, etc is in the opposite direction of the common good. How can a society strive to be better when not all are included? Where diversity is celebrated by some and not others. Where cultural holidays are only a sale promotion to some but to others 'a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.' (Douglass 6)

'The social imaginary is not a set of ideas; rather, it is what enables, through making sense of, the practices of society.' (Taylor 2) Civility is where a shift in imaginaries happens. The shift happens on a collective level and then affects the individual. By shifting the imaginaries are retelling the same stories with changed characters. Those characters represent the ever-changing aspect of a growing society. The imaginary is 'something much broader and deeper than the intellectual schemes people entertain when they think about social reality in a disengaged mode.' (Taylor 23) Compared to theory, the imagination is something of the senses that is experienced by individuals. It enables us to make sense of our connection with others. It is what influences our understanding of common social practices and'… enables us to carry out the collective practices that make up our social life.” (Taylor 24) The imaginary is a combination of what we sense should happen and how things usually go. Making up our imaginary involves “what we see in human history is ranges of human practices that are both at once, that is, material practices carried out by human beings in space and time, and very often coercively maintained, and at the same time, self-conceptions, modes of understanding.' (Taylor 31) As time goes on the factors of the imagination change to fit a new timeline with differing ideals. Society shapes an individual while the individuals make up society. We developed from instinctual to moral 'On the first level, we are always socially embedded; we learn our identities in dialogue, by being inducted into a certain language. But on the level of content, what we may learn is to be an individual, have our own opinions, attain our relation to God, our own conversion experience'. (Taylor 65) It is instinctual and spiritual in a way that makes sense to us, as the physical and the moral.

Western modernity views 'the process of disenchantment, the eclipse of the world of magic forces and spirits.' (Taylor 49) Here we see another retelling of something but now the story is the same and the circumstances have changed. Taylor discussed the revelation as an attempt to reorder what was already being sold as the norm. 'Disenchantment brought a new uniformity of the purpose and principle'. (Taylor 50) Everything is given an identity and our lack of ability to view ourselves through 'the self-outside a particular context' (Taylor 55) caused a halt that the Great Disembedding hoped to overcome. Like the section on work, Taylor expresses that society now stresses that rewards are given through work. We expect things in return that have irreplaceable value and “ if your mind is set upon serving the work, then you know you have nothing to look for; the only reward the work can give you is the satisfaction of beholding its perfection. The work takes all and gives nothing but itself, and to serve the work is a labor of pure love.” (Sayers)

Our work's value is a purpose and what we should expect in return is the sheer worth we find while putting the work into our finished efforts. People can make your work seem worthy of value or instinctually return the value of your work with the results of their work in which they should have received a reward. “The deference and respect that we receive from our subjects are not free gifts from them but payment for the justice and protection they expect to receive from us.' (Taylor 71) As we all have something in return we become merchants that' act for the love of gain” but should be guided through “good policy by the ruler which can draw this love to the common good.' (Taylor 72) With leadership and guidance from the right source, we can be guided to work for the common good. As we work towards the common good the common good will then work for us in return, 'the more a society turns to commerce, the more polished and civilized it becomes, the more it excels in the arts of peace. (Taylor 74) Peace of any kind is one of the biggest common goods that all people should and have the right to experience despite their diversity and distances.

“The new economically centered notion of natural order underlies the doctrines of harmony of interest.' (Taylor 75) Our natural need for work, purpose, and better for the common good is challenged by the desire to acquire an abundance of wealth we have created for ourselves. '...the economic now defines a way we are linked together, a sphere of coexistence that in principle could suffice to itself, of only disorder and conflict didn't threaten.' (Taylor 76) The creation of an economy may connect us more than before but it can also lead towards more division that does not coincide with acting towards the common good.

'Something of the same kind, along with a more substantial mode of participation, is available in the various movements, social, political, religious, that are a crucial feature of modern life and that link people trans locally and internationally into a single collective agency.' (Taylor 160) The more systems we create the more we can connect with each other to finally have belonged, but as different systems are created so are new qualifications that can divide a population on the privileged and non-privileged. “We each can be placed in census categories in relation to ethnicity, language, income level, or entitlements in the welfare system, whether or not we are aware of where we fit or what consequences flow from this. And yet categories of both kinds, the active and the objective, can be essential to the social imaginary....the ensemble of imaginings that enable our practices by making sense of them.'(Taylor 165) There is an instinctual belonging to each other we feel, and may not always be as obvious as other reasons. How oppression should be resisted plays to the desire for belonging. As the common good is for all, no matter what a person facing oppression wants to and should be included in all the common good is purposed for. 'Nations, people, can have a personality, can act together outside any prior political ordering' gives me a sense that the two ideas of individuality and collectivism are both always present and dependent on each other. (Taylor 168)

The common good should be in balance. ‘‘man is common only because it can be understood and predicated of each human person. Human nature is common to all men in the same way. We do not share the same nature as we share a room or a friend.” (Froelich 8) Our needs and theirs often vary and we must not be afraid to better ourselves for ourselves. What we must not forget is the perceptions of others. We have a duty to ourselves and others to take responsibility for our actions. We must not fall victim to the cutthroat environment we have created and cannot solely survive on the workings of the common good. We must work to enable ourselves of the worthy work. To better ourselves is to in return should be to better the masses. You are to do work for the mass as they are to you, but you are to expect nothing given that once you do it then determines the quality of work you output.

The common good is good for all in the state in which they all find themselves. The common good may vary depending on social impacts and population. The ways of moving forward toward the common good require active participating citizens, the teaching of liberation, the passionate work of the individuals who compose the majority, and a sense of community. The common good cannot strive with the lack of purpose, the presence of oppression, and the goal of individual gain. Division among the population is the biggest enemy we face when trying to pursue the common good. By teaching the attributes of the common good we hopefully start to develop a liberal way of thinking and understanding that will lead to the acceptance of all who should benefit from the common good, which is all in general.

Bibliography

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    4. Deneulin, Séverine (2006). Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach to Development and Gaudium et
    5. Spes. _Journal of Catholic Social Thought_ 3 (2):355-372.
    6. Douglass, F. (1852). What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?
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    12. Nussbaum, M. (2004). Liberal education and global community. Liberal Education, 90(1), 42-47.
    13. Sayers, Dorothy, “Why Work?” in Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for
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    15. Taylor, Charles. Modern social imaginaries. Duke University Press, 2004.
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