December 19, 2008

Unreasonable expectations

All are not naturally conditioned so as to act according to the laws and rules of reason; nay, on the contrary, all men are born ignorant, and before they can learn the right way of life and acquire the habit of virtue, the greater part of their life, even if they have been well brought up, has passed away. Nevertheless, they are in the meanwhile bound to live and preserve themselves as far as they can by the unaided impulses of desire. Nature has given them no other guide, and has denied them the present power of living according to sound reason; so that they are no more bound to live by the dictates of an enlightened mind, than a cat is bound to live by the laws of the nature of a lion.

-- Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus.

... As he writes in the Tractatus Politicus, "men are not born fit for citizenship, but must be made so." A liberal polity that treats education as a secondary priority has doomed itself.