Written 09-19-04, 0836, United Flight 7043 ORD-LAX
Altitude: 35000 feet
Ground Speed: 475 mph
Over Iowa

“So it begins...”

College. Some people fear college with a dreadful anticipation, while others look forward to it eagerly. I fall into the latter category, being anxious to begin this new stage of life. Ever since I finished the Summer Program at TAC last year, I’ve been impatient to return.
I’ve spent most of the last 18 years at home. I’ve only been taught outside of home for a total of 24 months, otherwise my mother has always been my teacher and my siblings are my classmates. Though I appreciate the better education and formation that I was able to receive, one can only remain at home so long, and the combination of my teacher and mother occasionally leads to conflicts.
So now on to Thomas Aquinas College in sunny California.
Why a such a small college so far away?
Having just read “Liberal Education as a Means to Freedom,” I shall attempt to answer this question.

Unlike many schools which claim to be the best of their kind, Thomas Aquinas claims to be the only school of its kind. Of course, there are many other schools which claim to teach the liberal arts, but Thomas Aquinas is the only one which teaches the traditional liberal arts.
What are the liberal arts? A good question, because Thomas Aquinas answers this question differently than almost all other liberal arts schools, which is what makes it different. When looking at the word “liberal” we know the root of the rot is “liber,” Latin for “Free.” What then, is a free art? Is it one in which we defy all restraints and boundaries, learning where our fancy takes us and disposing with conventions?
No, the “Liberal” in “Liberal Arts” refers to the freedom of man; the best education is one which will make man truly free. Though we do not have external slavery in the modern world, many people in our society are enslaved to their passions and internal impulses, which is just as bad as external slavery. Thus, in order to be truly free, one must have control over oneself, which requires knowledge. This knowledge is what enables us to have control over ourselves. Thus, a liberal education is that which truly makes one a real man in the world.

[Side note: While watching the in-flight movie “Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius” I came across a good example of the difference between a free man and an enslaved man. Bobby Jones main rival in the U. S. Amateur Championship was telling him he could make a lot of money if he turned pro. Booby replied he wasn’t going to turn pro and was going to school next year. The other guy was astounded, he though Bobby could make a lot more money playing golf. Bobby played golf “for fun, and I wan to win.” His opponent played golf “for money, and I have to win.” The difference is apparent. One man enslaved to his passions who strives for money, the other who does what he enjoys and strives to increase his knowledge.]

Many modern liberal arts schools believe that the main focus of liberal arts is to teach the “humanities” as opposed to the “sciences.” From whence comes this artificial division? Supposedly the humanities, such as literature, history, and philosophy, are those studies that have to do with humans; and the sciences are those studies dealing with nature, or that which is outside of man. Because the sciences do not have apparently have little to do with men and human freedom, liberal arts schools do not focus on them. However, it is in science that we find the true freedom of man.

In the Classical Greek Liberal Education, there were the Trivium (Logic, Rhetoric, and ?) and the Quadrivium (Astronomy, Geometry, Music, and Mathematics). The Quadrivium are the sciences, and can basically be reduced to Astronomy and Music, because geometry is mainly used for the study of Astronomy and Mathematics for the understanding of Music. Now Astronomy and Mathematics are not practical sciences at all. We cannot chance the stars, and the knowledge of their courses is completely impractical, merely knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Music, though not quite as distant, is similarly of little application in the survival of life. Thus we see that the freedom found in liberal education enables men to study for nothing other than the sake of knowledge. Most of our life is not our own, we must take care of our body, and work, and sleep, and even amusement is necessary, so that the actual amount of time which we can devote to our mind is very little. Yet if we devote it to such things as raise our minds above that which is human, raise it to the stars...to music...to God, we are able to raise ourselves above the natural to the supernatural, which is man’s true end.

That is the true purpose of a liberal education, to free men so that they are able to attain their true goal...happiness with God.


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