Wealth is not A Substitute for Education: Xenophon’s Memorabilia, IV.1.5

“Socrates approached men who thought too much of wealth and believed they didn’t need education–because they imagined that their wealth was sufficient for accomplishing whatever they wanted and grounds for being honored by men–and said that ‘anyone who believes that without learning he can distinguish between what is profitable and what is harmful is a fool; and anyone who thinks that without distinguishing these things he can acquire whatever he wants through wealth and be able to do what is necessary is a fool; and anyone who thinks that without being about to do what is necessary he can also live well and has prepared himself to live well or even sufficiently is a buffoon; and anyone who believes that with wealth and without knowing anything, he can seem to be good at all or, without seeming to be good, that he earn a good reputation is a buffoon.’ ”

τοὺς δ’ ἐπὶ πλούτῳ μέγα φρονοῦντας καὶ νομίζοντας οὐδὲν προσδεῖσθαι παιδείας, ἐξαρκέσειν δὲ σφίσι τὸν πλοῦτον οἰομένους πρὸς τὸ διαπράττεσθαί τε ὅ τι ἂν βούλωνται καὶ τιμᾶσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐφρένου λέγων ὅτι μῶρος μὲν εἴη, εἴ τις οἴεται μὴ μαθὼν τά τε ὠφέλιμα καὶ τὰ βλαβερὰ τῶν πραγμάτων διαγνώσεσθαι, μῶρος δ’, εἴ τις μὴ διαγιγνώσκων μὲν ταῦτα, διὰ δὲ τὸν πλοῦτον ὅ τι ἂν βούληται ποριζόμενος οἴεται δυνήσεσθαι τὰ συμφέροντα πράττειν, ἠλίθιος δ’, εἴ τις μὴ δυνάμενος τὰ συμφέροντα πράττειν εὖ τε πράττειν οἴεται καὶ τὰ πρὸς τὸν βίον αὐτῷ [ἢ] καλῶς ἢ ἱκανῶς παρεσκευάσθαι, ἠλίθιος δὲ καὶ εἴ τις οἴεται διὰ τὸν πλοῦτον, μηδὲν ἐπιστάμενος, δόξειν τι ἀγαθὸς εἶναι ἤ, μηδὲν ἀγαθὸς εἶναι δοκῶν, εὐδοκιμήσειν.

In an aggressive capitalist market where the UK is transforming its educational system in imitation of a US system that is witnessing the closure of fine liberal arts schools like Sweet Briar College and the ascendency of STEM disciplines to the detriment of all else, maybe we all need a little Socrates harassing us…

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