I’m thrilled to have this lovely, costly book by David Hicks as an inter-library loan. My goal is to read through the first part before 10am Saturday, when it has to be in the return box. (I cheated and read some of the second part already.) Not only is this book part of the foundation of years 7-12 of Ambleside Online, it’s a “must read” from both Andrew Kern and Christopher Perrin.
So I am drowning in chapter 5 “Saving the Appearances”. It would help if I even understood the title. Anyway, I’m pushing through. Trying to get the big picture as recommended by Andrew Kern, and also a method recommended for tough books in “How to Read a Book“.
The chapter starts on page 52. Finally, on page 57 I am tossed a life preserver, a sentence I understand, and have to suppress the urge to do cartwheels.
A science of numbers feeding on technological or commercial ambitions generates a new attitude concerning the nature of man and of his purposes: it flattens the vertical levels-of-being [aspiring to the Ideal type] conception of man and turns the flow of his curiosity away from the normative toward the analytical.
I thank Kern, again, because while I couldn’t define ‘normative’ to save my life, I know it’s the opposite of analytical, which is breaking things into little pieces then putting those pieces under the microscope. Perhaps we could say the normative is concerned with the whole and appreciating the nature of a thing, while the analytical is concerned with dissecting and explaining the parts of the things.
So I still feel like a little kid, standing on my tip-toes trying to see what’s on the table. Kindly enough, Hicks throws me another gem on page 58.
Whereas the modern technocrat sees knowledge as a source of power giving him a manipulative edge over nature and over others, the ancients treated knowledge as a source of virtue challenging the individual to improve himself and to look beyond the appearances for truth.
Do you want knowledge & power, or wisdom & virtue? I know what I want.