Education for Life


Winter 2014 quarter

Taught by


Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.
—T. S. Eliot, “Two Choruses from the Rock”

Education is not schooling. Schooling is for fish and maybe for getting a job. Life is not living. Living is what you have to make or, to some, everything that happens between birthing and dying. What could “Education for Life” mean? We’ll read some sages, all of them our contemporaries, who seem to have wisdom enough to offer an answer.

Annie Dillard muses on God that, “Sometimes, en route, dazzlingly or dimly, he shows an edge of himself to souls who seek him, and the people who bear those souls, marveling, know it, and see the skies carousing around them, and watch cells stream and multiply in green leaves.”  We’ll see where that comes from and where it leads.  Alain de Botton says it is possible to build new institutions to “generate feelings of community,” “promote kindness,” to help us “surrender some of our counterproductive optimism,” to “achieve perspective through the sublime and the transcendent,” and to do it without ethical codes, religions, morality and all the other trump cards that, while they might help us live, distract us from life. We’ll see. Wendell Berry believes that we can disentangle ourselves from a science that tells us everything worth knowing about a world that is one grand mechanism or, more recently, a total system, and from an economy where value means only price. He thinks we can recover the old virtues of living together not on the Earth but on the land and must do so “motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that [we] want to preserve it and remain in it.” We’ll see. Charles Bowden asks, “How can a person live a moral life in a culture of death?,” and answers, by saying Yes to all of life. 

There are other sages who might help us claw our way back up T. S. Eliot’s slippery slope to our future. We’ll find some.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
November 19th, 2013 Description has been updated.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Winter)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 25% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 24


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 20169
So - Sr (16 credits): 20172

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