Are you against computers, Socrates?
Socrates: Of course not. Am I against brains? I am against confusion—against personalizing instruments and instrumentalizing persons—which is what is at stake in this philosophical question about human and computer intelligence.
From Peter Kreeft’s brilliant book The Best Things in Life, which imagines dialogues that occur when Socrates visits a modern university campus. Even more poignant: this book was written in 1984.
Juniors at Coram Deo Academy research, write, defend, and present a rather impressive Capstone paper. The remarks below were shared the evening that our Dallas Campus Junior shared their capstones with our community.
I am encouraged by many things this evening, but I would like to name two of them.
First, I am encouraged to know that this is a place where students are trained to think deeply, slowly, and theologically about things that matter a great deal.
Juniors, your presence here this evening and your work this year is a testament to the many ways you are growing in wisdom and virtue. Well done.
Second, I am grateful that this is a place where adults take time out of their busy weeks to hear students share some of what they have learned this year.
Parents, teachers, and friends of our school: your presence here this evening is a testament to your desire to contribute to a more wise and virtuous Christian witness in the public square.
Our students have selected challenging topics to explore this year, and their teacher has demanded that they read, think, and write wisely about them.
All while many of their peers are being trained to think and write by social media, rash politicians, and celebrities who are famous for being famous.
Though you may—in some cases—find yourself arriving at different conclusions than our presenters, I trust that you will appreciate, honor, and be encouraged by the way our students have thought through these things.
The paragraph below, from Alan Jacobs, is an important one to comprehend. The rest of his post helps frame some of the wider issues at hand, and points to other helpful works for those seeking to read more widely on these things.
I want to make a stronger argument: that the distinctive “occupational psychosis” of Silicon Valley is sociopathy – the kind of sociopathy embedded in the Oppenheimer Principle. The people in charge at Google and Meta and (outside Silicon Valley) Microsoft, and at the less well-known companies that are being used by the mega-companies, have been deformed by their profession in ways that prevent them from perceiving, acknowledging, and acting responsibly in relation to the consequences of their research. They have a trained incapacity to think morally. They are by virtue of their narrowly technical education and the strong incentives of their profession moral idiots.
While it is not the only point of the paragraph, I cannot help but revisit the final sentence (emphasis mine):
they are by virtue of their narrowly technical education … moral idiots.
Learning to lead, love, and serve our world does not require more technical training, either in K-12 or higher ed. It requires more humane teaching and learning.
Your eight year old can learn to code from an app whenever they need it, whether that is this summer or twenty summers from now. They cannot so easily learn what it means to be a human being who is a member of a human society, while also learning to master the art of letters and numbers.
One of the best things you can do now to prepare young children for the moral idiocracy of our age is to ground them in a rich education in the liberal arts.
That’s why he and two co-authors—Dweck and Greg Walton of Stanford—recently performed a study that suggests it might be time to change the way we think about our interests. Passions aren’t “found,” they argue. They’re developed.
From a much appreciated article by Olga Khazan—especially for those of us in the world of K-12 Classical Education.