Triv­ial Pur­suit

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - JOE FER­GU­SON, PhD

Dear John­nie;

In the me­dieval univer­sity from which mod­ern lib­eral ed­u­ca­tion has evolved, the Triv­ium sub­jects of gram­mar, logic and rhetoric were in­tended to es­tab­lish an in­tel­lec­tual foun­da­tion to sup­port good cit­i­zen­ship and ex­cel­lence in any field. The up­per divi­sion Quadriv­ium sub­jects of ge­om­e­try, arith­metic, as­tron­omy and mu­sic were built on that foun­da­tion. This sys­tem­atic ap­proach to the devel­op­ment of knowl­edge and in­tel­lect yielded the En­light­en­ment, the sci­en­tific en­ter­prise, the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion and the In­ter­net. The world has be­come con­sid­er­ably more com­plex in the last few cen­turies and lib­eral ed­u­ca­tion is un­der sus­pi­cion; largely on eco­nomic grounds. You need some prac­ti­cal train­ing that leads to a gain­ful ca­reer, but the devel­op­ment of your in­tel­lec­tual ca­pac­ity bears in­de­pen­dent at­ten­tion in the ser­vice of that end. That’s why you are here.

In Zen, en­light­en­ment is ul­ti­mately about pos­ture and breath. In prin­ci­ple you could go straight there; but most peo­ple re­quire en­cour­age­ment, guid­ance and train­ing. This is also the case in mar­tial arts, mu­sic, medicine, lit­er­a­ture, math­e­mat­ics, com­puter pro­gram­ming, fi­nance, phi­los­o­phy, psy­chother­apy and law. Be­cause to­tal­i­tar­ian states and cults have ma­nip­u­lated in­tel­li­gent peo­ple in hor­rific ways by train­ing them how to think, lib­eral democ­ra­cies make a point of not do­ing that. Do not ex­pect to find Ef­fec­tive

Think­ing & Phenomeno­log­i­cal Rea­son­ing in your cur­ricu­lum. The Triv­ium sub­jects re­main as in­tel­lec­tual fun­da­men­tals, but they pro­vide only the syl­labus and not the cog­ni­tive style you must ac­quire in or­der to bring it to life. It is important to de­velop an ac­cu­rate in­tu­ition of how your brain, your mind and your en­vi­ron­ment col­lab­o­rate to think on your be­half; and how to man­age that process in your ed­u­ca­tion and in the world. Let’s talk about your sit­u­a­tion in this con­text. Trust me. Call me.

PhD Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy, Field­ing Univer­sity MBA, Whar­ton School of Busi­ness

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