Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Mind is a Fire to be Kindled

Fall semester began tonight for me at Whitworth College with a class called "Milestones in Education." I surmise from the introduction the class will address philosophy, history, and psychology of education throughout the ages. We began our study with a quote:

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." ~Plutarch.

The professor asked us to write several points in support of the quote, and several in disagreement. I actually liked what I had to say in support of the matter:

"On a neurological level, the mind very literally burns; the neurons fire and form connections and create a whole living experience. The more neurons we have firing, the more meaningful connections we form, and the richer our lives become. In contrast, apathy is the opposite of fire. It is the slow atrophy of neurological connections produced by lack of use."

We ended with a reading and discussion of Plato's cave allegory; rather than recite the allegory here, I close with the final paragraph of his writing:

"The power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightness and best of being, or in other words, of the good." ~Plato.

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