Sunday, January 10, 2010

Scholasticism and philosophy

It should be obvious to educated people that the art of teaching and the art of writing essays are two separate habits, and that the possession of knowledge does not mean that one can write well. Neither is the converse true, that one who is able to write also possesses knowledge, much less wisdom. We may reject the rather dry and bare, terse writing of the scholastics, but can it be denied that their treatises are generally more clear than contemporary essays? How much of the essay's being the standard for academic writing is linked to the 19th century model of the research university and the rise of modern literature, and how much to Renaissance ideals?

As teachers of philosophy, what do we seek to impart first? Reasoned-out knowledge? Or the art of writing an essay?
James Chastek on res significata and modus significandi.