Being Liberal

In search of the good life, an education of value and high worth.

The Traditional Teacher

by Elliott & Fry, published by  Bickers & Son, woodburytype, circa 1883; published 1886 Matthew Arnold, who saw culture as a ‘study of perfection’

There is a fundamental difficulty for many English speakers in understanding what is meant by the term ‘liberal education’, because the word ‘liberal’ has so many associations which actually run contrary to these educational principles.

In politics, liberalism is associated with the Enlightenment experiment begun by Hobbes and Locke, in which humanity was redefined as being governed by self-interest, with no possibility of a higher motive. All higher motives were dismissed as nothing more than the savage superstitions of primitive culture, from which modern man must liberate himself. The solution to social problems was to organise society so that citizens would be governed by enlightened self-interest: to cancel the old bonds of family, tribe or religion, and replace them with a contract which government and governed agreed was mutually profitable. A business contract replaced the former belief in sacred rights and…

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