- Paperback: 323 pages
- Publisher: Encounter Books (April 1 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1893554260
- ISBN-13: 978-1893554269
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 272 g
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #342,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Who Killed Homer: The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom Paperback – Apr 1 2001
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About the Author
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist at California State University.
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On the other hand, I can sympathize with their frustrations in trying to teach an uninterested and uninformed student, who views college solely as an income multiplier. I can certainly applaud the courage it takes to defend a system based on absolutes in an environment which recognizes no absolutes but the nonexistence of absolutes. For many of my professors in fuzzy studies, concepts and facts had to packaged carefully to avoid all possibility of slighting the cultural identity of someone in the class. We had the "black Socrates" argument once, and insubstantial as the entire issue was, this argument raged across four entire class periods in charges against the professor for bias and serving racism.
I appreciate their candor, even if I agree with the opposition on several points. However, I think it's good enough, just for encouraging a future generation of academics to damn encoded language and stand behind something which they know to be unfashionably true. God knows too little of what we learn in college has any real application in life, but that would be a lesson worth learning for anyone.
First they argue that no other civilizations have anything better to offer for an explanation of the life we live today than the classical Western ideas of Greece and Rome. No argument there. That is why the West is dominant in the world and why others envy us and many wish to emulate us (or destroy us).
One chapter quotes many books and articles by modern classicists. These quotations are laughable in their incomprehensibility. This, I believe, is the authors' point, and it is well taken. But so what? No one but other academic classicists could read this stuff, and they probably don't understand it either.
They seem to believe that no professor of classics actually wants to teach but only to find ways to get time off (with pay) to write incomprehensible books and articles.
The authors have a lot of spleen to vent in regard to the study and teaching of the classics, and they've vented it. I hope they feel better. They have my sympathy, but it's unlikely that their book will have any practical effect.
They go on to say how difficult it is to learn Greek or Latin and that without visiting ancient sites and soaking up classical history, the student can't really "know" classics. It seems a lot of work for someone who just wants a college education to secure a better job. Most people can't afford to luxuriate in the classics for four years only to find themselves without a usable degree.
In the first, Hanson and Heath offer a sustained argument on the problem of post-modernism. They explore the issues of historical research and reasoned evidence in contrast with interpretive assertion and critical theory.
They also consider the relationship between research and teaching. This issue heads the agenda of the formerly independent schools of art and design that are now developing university-level programs.
Hanson and Heath assert that university education requires reverence for truth, a concept of the good life, a model of appropriate education, and an understanding of how education gives rise to excellence in societies and individuals. These arguments demand the attention of everyone who teaches at university. The authors call for a rebirth of the concrete Greek values of public discourse and democracy, even though they neglect the equally vital abstract virtues of theoretical inquiry and scientific speculation.
This is a sustained argument from reasoned evidence. A serious philosophy of education requires understanding how and why we agree -- or disagree -- with the authors on any given point.
Book review published in Design Research News, Volume 6, Number 7, July 2001 ISSN 1473-3862.
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