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Category Archives: On Being Educated

50. Perhaps there is a thinking which is more sober-minded than the incessant frenzy of rationalization and the intoxicating quality of cybernetics. One might aver that it is precisely this intoxication that is extremely irrational. Perhaps there is a thinking outside of the distinction of rational and irrational, more sober-minded still than scientific technology, more sober-minded and hence removed, without effect, yet having its own necessity. When we ask about the task of this thinking, then not only this thinking but also the question concerning it is first made questionable. In view of the whole philosophical tradition this means:  

51. We all still need an education in thinking, and first of all, before that, knowledge of what being educated and uneducated in thinking means. In this respect Aristotle gives us a hint in Book IV of his Metaphysics (1006a if.): . . – “For it is uneducated not to have an eye for when it is necessary to look for a proof and when this is not necessary.”This sentence demands careful reflection. For it is not yet decided in what way that which needs no proof in order to become accessible to thinking is to be experienced. Is it dialectical mediation or originarily giving intuition or neither of the two? Only the peculiar quality of what demands of us above all else to be admitted can decide about that. But how is this to make the decision possible for us when we have not yet admitted it? In what circle are we moving here, indeed, inevitably?

52. Is it the eukukleos Aletheia, well-rounded unconcealment itself, thought as the opening?
Does the title for the task of thinking then read instead of Being and Time: Opening and Presence?
But where does the opening come from and how is it given? What speaks in the “There is / It gives”?
The task of thinking would then be the surrender of previous thinking to the determination of the matter for thinking.

– Heidegger (The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking)


At our universities, the historians like to dump the Ancient History course in the lap of philologists, and vice versa. Here and there it is treated like a poor old relation whom it would be a disgrace to let go to ruin entirely. But with the public at large antiquity is completely out of fashion, and the ‘culture’ which is supported by this public even feels hatred for it. Various faults of antiquity serve as a pretext. The real reason is conceit about modern communication and transport and the inventions of our century; then, too, there is the inability to distinguish technical and material greatness from the intellectual and moral kinds; and finally, the prevalent views about refinement of manners, philanthropy, and the like.

But what makes it generally impossible for the present-day average ‘educated’ man to find anything appealing in the ancient world is the total egoism of today’s private person who wants to exist as an individual and asks of the community only the greatest possible security for himself and his property, for which he pays his taxes amid sighs, and who also likes to attach himself to the community in a specific sense as an ‘official’.

On the other hand, the peoples of the ancient Orient, who lived tribally, impress us as races of which each individual is only a type, with the King has the highest type.

And even where the individual develops, especially since the Greeks, we still deal for a long time and essentially with types, e.g. The heroes, the lawgivers. They are, to be sure, depicted as great individuals, and this is borne out by feeling and tradition; but at the same time they are all the more fully types and condensations of the characteristic and the general. And last, the complete individual in antiquity is, above all, πολιτης [part of the state] to a degree of which we now, in the present mode of connection between the individual and the state, have no idea. Whenever one breaks with the πὁλεις (polis) or when it is lost, it is a tragedy every time.

Finally, today’s ‘educated’ men are firmly resolved to make a bargain, with whatever power, for their existence at any given time. There is an enormous veneration of life and property. There is a mass abdication, and not just on the part of the rulers! And there are numerous bargaining positions and concessions against the worst — and all this with great touchiness in matters of recognition and so-called honour.

With the ancients, on the contrary, it was all or nothing, with no fear of disaster. The fall of states, cities, and Kings was considered glorious. That is something utterly alien to us.

– Jacob Burckhardt (Reflections on History, #4.)

A large part of education will always be devoted to the formation of a persona which will make the individual “clean about the house” and socially presentable, and will teach him not what is, but what may be regarded as, real; all human societies are at all times far more interested in instructing their members in the techniques of not looking, of overlooking and of looking the other way than in sharpening their observation, increasing their alertness and fostering their love of truth.

Every kind of restriction may be imposed by the collective. But whether it is a case of a taboo in a primitive tribe, a social convention or a moral prohibition, whether it is a question of not mentioning certain subjects or of not admitting certain facts, of behaving as if certain non-existent entities in fact existed or of saying things which one does not mean or not saying things which one does mean– every time it makes one of these demands the collective will be guided by certain principles which are vital to its development and to the development of consciousness. Without these values they could not exist– or such, at least, is its firm conviction.

The ego will receive the reward of moral recognition by the collective to the exact extent to which it succeeds in identifying with the persona, the collective facade personality– the simple reason being that this facade personality is the visible sign of agreement with the values of the collective.

– Erich Neumann (Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, p. 38)

No one rises above himself who has not turned his most
dangerous weapon against himself. One who wants to rise above
himself shall climb down and hoist himself onto himself and lug
himself to the place of sacrifice. But what must happen to a man
until he realizes that outer visible success, that he can grasp with
his hands, leads him astray. What suffering must be brought
upon humanity; until man gives up satisfying his longing for
power over his fellow man and forever wanting others to be the
same. How much blood must go on flowing until man opens his
eyes and sees the way to his own path and himself as the enemy;
and becomes aware of his real success. You ought to be able to
live with yourself but not at your neighbor’s expense. The herd
animal is not his brother’s parasite and pest. Man, you have even
forgotten that you too are an animal. You actually still seem to
believe that life is better elsewhere. Woe unto you if your neighbor
also thinks so. But you may be sure that he does. Someone must
begin to stop being childish.

– Jung (The Red Book, p.310)

However men may differ in disposition and in education, the foundations of human nature are the same in everyone. And every human being can draw in the course of his education from the inexhaustible wellspring of the divine in man’s nature. But here likewise two dangers threaten: a man may fail in his education to penetrate to the real roots of humanity and remain fixed in convention–a partial education of this sort is as bad as none–or he may suddenly collapse and neglect his self-development.

– I Ching (Hexagram/Gua 48)

What is convention? A rule, method, practice or custom.

Do you do what everyone else does because everyone else does it? Or have you plunged into the deep and understanding the roots gained the ability to switch things up?

In short do you think for yourself or are you too afraid to be different or unique? Are you scared of what others think and that your uniqueness has created a difference that will cause others to pull back or disregard you? Is the change you made at all necessary or did you do it on a whim and should be disregarded?



It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

– Aristotle

Book I, 1094.b24

There can be no doubt that children should be taught those useful things which are really necessary, but not all things, for occupations are divided into liberal and illiberal; and to young children should be imparted only such kinds of knowledge as will be useful to them without vulgarizing them. And any occupation, art, or science which makes the body, or soul, or mind of the freeman less fit for the practice or exercise of virtue is vulgar; wherefore we call those arts vulgar which tend to deform the body, and likewise all paid employments, for they absorb and degrade the mind. There are also some liberal arts quite proper for a freeman to acquire, but only in a certain degree, and if he attend to them too closely, in order to attain perfection in them, the same evil effects will follow.

– Aristotle

Book VIII 1337.b5 , 1885 edition

The average ego, the average individual, remains fixed in the
group, although in the course of development he is compelled
to give up the original security of the unconscious, to evolve a
conscious system, and to take upon himself all the complications
and sufferings which such development entails. For the primary
security of the unconscious he exchanges the secondary security
of the group. He becomes a group member, and the average
man spends at least half his life–the essential part of his devel-
opment–adapting to the group and allowing himself to be
molded by collective trends.

The role played by the collective in the human culture is decisive.
Society, with its conscious postulates, sets up an authority,
a spiritual tradition which, spoken or unspoken, forms the background
of education. The individual is molded by the collective
through its ethos, its customs, laws, morality, its ritual and religion,
its institutions and collective undertakings. When one
considers the original submergence of the individual in the collective,
one sees why all collective orientations are so binding
and are accepted without question.
Besides this tendency of the collective to form average members
and to educate the ego up to the cultural norm represented
by the elders, there is another tendency which is in the direction
of the Great Individual.

For the group member, the Great Individual is primarily the
carrier of projections. The unconscious psychic wholeness of
the collective is experienced in the person of the Great Individual,
who is at once the group self and the unconscious self of
each member. What is present in every part of the group as the
unconscious creative totality of the psyche, namely the self, becomes
visible in the Great Individual or, at a higher level, is
actualized in his life. The collective parts are still childishly dependent,
with no ego center, no responsibility or will of their
own to mark them off from the collective, so that the Great Individual
is regarded as the directive force, as the very center of
life, and is institutionally honored as such.

It is therefore completely inadmissible to reduce him to, or
derive him from, the personal father figure. We find that, just
as in the early history of man the Great Individual becomes the
carrier for the projection of archetypal images such as the self,
the mana figure, the hero, and the father archetype, so also in
the course of ontogenetic development the figure representing
authority, who in our civilization is the father, frequently becomes
the carrier for these projections. But it is by no means
only the father archetype that is projected upon him; very often
it is quite another image, for instance that of the magician, the
wise old man, the hero or, conversely, of the devil, death, and
so on.

The Great Individual who breaks away from the anonymity
of the primordial collective is, on the heavenly plane, the god-
figure, while on the earthly plane he is the medicine man, chief,
and god-king. Sociological and religious developments are here
closely bound together; they correspond to psychic changes, and
the psychic differentiation by which the ego detaches itself from
the undifferentiated unconscious is expressed in sociological
changes as well as in a theological differentiation of man’s view
of the world,

-Erich Neumann (OaHoC, p.426-8)

The form of representation peculiar to the unconscious is not that of the conscious mind. It neither attempts nor is able to seize hold of and define its object in a series of discursive explanations, and reduce them to clarity by logical analysis. The way of  the unconscious is different. Symbols gather round the thing to be explained, understood, interpreted. The act of becoming conscious consists in the concentric grouping of symbols around the object, all circumscribing and describing the unknown from many sides. Each symbol lays bare another essential side of the object to be grasped, points to another facet of meaning. Only the canon of these symbols congregating about the center in question, the coherent symbol group, can lead to an understanding of what the symbols point to and of what they are trying to express.

-Erich Neumann


And here we see the potency and importance of patience, for the child and learner does not know; is not conscious enough to grasp the whole. He may see many parts or sides but he does not see the whole as of yet. The symbols are only beginning to rise up into consciousness and with them the possibility of seeing and grasping the whole of what they are merely a part. And for this reason the true teacher does not tell or merely show those under his care what he knows or thinks he knows but involves them in this process of bringing the unknown through unconscious means to consciousness patiently. He allows those under his care to learn. That is his art and purpose. He is to increase the possibility of seeing and questioning by not getting in the way through abuse of power and position. He does not tell but merely opens up, lays bare and allows the object in question to show itself, to hold sway over their minds. He allows those under his care to question and if need be guides them back if they stray by posing questions himself. He also leaves behind tests and exams as these only deal with memory and not with actual sight and understanding. If there are to be tests at all they come from the questions he poses. Through the child’s responses he can come to see where they are and involve them even further into seeing for themselves where they are. In this way he need not become a disciplinarian for the child corrects himself; he sees for himself where and how he strayed.



The Master said, “With sincere faith he unites the love of learning; holding firm to death, he is perfecting the excellence of his course.

“Such an one will not enter a tottering state, nor dwell in a disorganized one. When right principles of government prevail in the kingdom, he will show himself; when they are prostrated, he will keep concealed.

“When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of.”

– Analects of Confucius