Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fostering Sensibilities

For Rousseau, moral learning, as recognized in natural philosophy, became a matter of fostering sensibilities within the individual. In contrast to the utilitarian "felicific" calculation that was gaining ground among progressive thinkers, Rousseau's notion of "sensibility" and concept of individual self-expression emphasized the education of a morally autonomous individual and portrayed the notion of education as a process of self-development, more dependent upon experience than book learning. 

Whether or not one agrees with Rousseau, the reading of this passage makes one cognizant of the value of life experience and self-made adventures as opposed to theoretical work as having a central place in our thinking lives. 

Discovery - learning - and pedagogy all prepare us to acknowledge ourselves via our relationship to the world. The approach we choose, ideally speaking, should be the one that speaks to us, that enlivens us from the inside out, that inspires us to delve deeper to that place of knowing that lies within a given subject. 

The path some choose is the direction they believe others wish for them to take, or sometimes the direction others strongly encourage them to take. This trajectory and the one they might have chosen for themselves is not always the same. 

Sometimes choosing the safest (western mindset version of "safest") route is best. It helps us focus, work hard, and get through it... so that we can move on with our lives. Of course, we move on in an entirely different direction.

I have questioned (and actively tested out) whether the safest route isn't that which we know more intuitively -vs- that which we think we should know or have a responsibility to ourselves and others to learn. For some, going to college is the smartest decision only because it is the safest decision.

If you have a burning passion and you know that the easiest way to co-participate in that experience is via university, then by all means go to university. If you have a burning passion to become the world's best skier while you're young enough to do so, do that! Go to school later - but only IFF the institution is offering you something you want for yourself.

University is like an a la carte menu. A smörgåsbord of intellectual delights! But if climbing a mountain in the himalayas is more to your liking, it seems to me that you should pack up your gear and head out.

"But what if you have to sell or give away your stuff?"

People have asked me this question before ... and my general answer has been "let them have it" (unless it is something I actually need to take along with me, I'm happier knowing someone else is enjoying the things I don't need).

Fostering our sensibilities is about recognizing that which sparks the flame inside us ... nuances, sensibilities, and expertise follow this ignition, as we naturally immerse ourselves in the world of sensory experiences that are closer to our personal liking.

Someone very wise once told me that anything was possible. The only that we had to decide was what were we willing to give up to have exactly what we want out of life. And in reality, is it really giving something up, if we want something else more...?

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