"But wherever ideas are effective, there is freedom"1
The primary intent of this paper is not to advance or defend any novel philosophical theses. Rather, the purpose is to provide what I will call a "philosophic service" for undergraduate teachers of philosophy. More specifically, I am concerned both with the continued decline of interest in the liberal arts (philosophy in particular) among undergraduates and with the apparent inability of many teachers of the liberal arts to articulate satisfactorily a rationale for the pursuit of the liberal arts. In this paper I cannot analyze all the complex economic and socio-cultural factors that have conspired to minimize the importance of the liberal arts. But I can contribute to the articulation of an adequate rationale for the continued pursuit of liberal arts, and I can do so in a way that will resonate with some of the dominant concerns of our contemporary undergraduates. Specifically, my contention is that a radical articulation of the function of the liberal arts is required, radical in the sense of going to the roots of the liberal arts. There we find that the liberal arts are liberal precisely to the extent that they contribute to the liberation of persons. The way in which each of the arts effects human liberation is something unique to the art. In this paper, I shall concentrate on the way philosophy effects human liberation. Furthermore, I wish to situate my comments in the context of the introductory philosophy course, for I think that it is a mistake to believe that the liberal arts are somehow Intrinsically liberating. How the liberal arts are conveyed will determine quite as much as their content where or not they are humanly liberating.2
Fleck, Leonard M.
"The Liberating Function of Philosophy in Education,"
Perspectives (1969-1979): Vol. 10
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/perspectives/vol10/iss1/3