Intellectuals, History, Character Education
Let your house be a gathering place for the wise;
Be covered by the dust of their feet,
And drink in their words with thirst.
—Yosse ben Yo’ezer
Discussion Guide [1:4].
Our society has a much more mixed attitude toward intellectuals. On one hand, children have great pressure to get good grades, and those who have created the new science and technology that underlies economic growth are held in awe. On the other hand, in the news and entertainment media, intellectuals are portrayed as dull, unattractive and social misfits, and beauty, athletic prowess and power are idolized.
How do you judge our society’s feelings about intellectuals?
Do you think you should in some way strive to be a scholar? Why?
The sages believed that education and scholarship could morally improve individual people
and society as a whole. And it is interesting that the two societies who combined a moral and intellectual
education are both among the longest surviving, in spite of conquest by foreign powers. In the case of
Confucianism, the conquerers of China adopted it themselves. In the case of Judaism, the culture survived
nearly two thousand years of exile and periodic persecution.
Do you think being a scholar can help you to be a better person?
Do you think our education in America today needs more of a moral component? How should it be encorporated?