Does education make you better person?

Monday, December 30, 2013


Written by Chris Carr

It’s a curious question: On one hand, you don’t have to be educated to be a good, virtuous person. On the other, the more you understand, the more you can do to stop injustices.

Firstly, what is better? Let’s consider better is synonymous with good-ness; the capability for a person to be on the brighter side of the Jedi spectrum. So the question is, does the educated mind make decisions that are more ethically virtuous than the uneducated one?

The educated mind—in the best light of education—will entertain any idea, weighing its pros, its cons, its fallacies and determine the best course of action. However, there is certainly something to be said about innate good-ness; that little voice we call a conscience that serves us as the voice of objective virtue.

Does education enlighten or inhibit us? The educated mind concerns themselves with global issues; poverty in other countries, economical discrepancies, are on the palette of the well-read mind. While education may expand the scope of one’s understanding of the world’s dilemmas, it does not no necessarily demand action of the individual.

When considering the uneducated—in the institutional sense—the distilled version of ethical good-ness that can be found in someone who knows right from wrong a priori, is seemingly a more pure fabric of value. When considering the larger, uneducated regions of the planet, it would be dismissive to not concern religion as also a large portion of these same regions way of life.

This isn’t to say religious people are less-educated, only that religion seems to be more popular in regions devoid of institution learning. Freud considered religion in the broadest sense to be an ethical illusion created to keep the masses in line with the laws of society. Does this phenomena create a better person, or just a person who follows dogmatisms more vehemently?

Education is the path to enlightenment, but what does this enlightenment grant the fellow human-being, educated or otherwise. A plight may be understood more clearly by a person with a greater literary depth than another, but it is the action of these people that dictate their character. As Aristotle said, to be a virtuous person, do virtuous things. The educated mind seems to be stuck within the confines of its own mind, not necessarily pushed toward action.

In this light consider the charity of churches: good is ultimately done more by religious groups—in a local sense, not in a global, historical sense—so education in classical areas has no merit here. Education, then, becomes self-considered pursuit, trapped inside the thoughts (and muted intentions) of the mind.

So education may not create a better person, after all, the villains in comic books are evil geniuses, not brain-dead yokels. Is education in this way evil? Evil in the way that education is an internal pursuit, binding up the time of the individual who could be acting and not merely contemplating.  This may an argument for time-spent, not time-acted.

What do you think? Is education a selfish pursuit, devoid of virtue when considering the plight others?

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