August 20, 2010
There has been no illustrious captain who did not possess taste and a feeling for the heritage of the human mind. At the root of Alexander's victories one will always find Aristotle. --Charles de Gaulle, Army of the Future (1934)
Finish it. Finish your education. --What About Clients?
Alexander the Great was out there. He was well-educated, persistent, confident, smart--and a brilliant commander and politician. A warrior's warrior. Alexander was also wild and self-destructive. His men, who loved him, sometimes mutinied.
Alexander worried his fellow Macedonians back home, as he bullied and charmed his way through the then-known world. Many texts say that his off-the-charts political and personal excesses greatly also worried his teacher, Aristotle, the measured and cautious academic. Alexander was, in fact, a student of Aristotle at his school in Mieza.
Aristotle's mentor, of course, was Plato, who was himself mystical, poetic, and aristocratic. Plato was more like Alexander in background and personality--perhaps a better teacher-student match for the young Alexander.
But Plato died when Alexander was 8, and when Aristotle was only 37....
Hey, don't stop reading. Lawyers, students, politicians and business leaders--and especially trial lawyers--should know about these guys.
And their ideas.
We should know something about all of them. Know about ancient and not-so-ancient peoples who have passed on, as well as the events and ideas they gave us.
But most of us don't know. And we are less effective for it.
In the olden days, before we all lapsed into being mechanics, technicians, pseudo-strategists, and outright "law cattle", we did know the greats, and their ideas. We needed to know. These guys (and women) were and are us.
You really think you are "educated"? "Twenty years of schooling" and...what? What did you really get? A job?
That's really sad, Jack. You are lost. So go play a video game. What's on bad television tonight? Go eat something. Get bigger, maybe. Of course, never exercise (you need to 3 times a week, by the way, and it will help you to read more).
Waste more time. Go buy a bad "self-improvement" book. Completely silly and dumbed-down versions of Sun Tzu's The Art of War are very popular these days. Or maybe "Who Made Off With My Cheese?"
It's all there. People worked very hard--and often died--for the last 2500 years to collect this stuff for you. Become alive. If you are even reading this, you are one of the lucky ones with a start at your education.
Finish it. Finish your education. Keep growing. Become at least culturally semi-literate. Read the newspaper. A good one. Read European ones in English. You can access things so much more quickly now than even 5 years ago.
The Classics? The Classics are you, too. If you have never read any the great books (nothing by laubert, no Cicero, no Heaney, no Van Doren, no Kerouac, no Durant?) or reveled in the great ideas, your life--your relationships, your family's education, and you--are going to be less.
Have some aspirations. Get off your knees. Grow up.
And you get General de Gaulle's idea. If you want to evaluate a politician, or a leader, or a business person, or a lawyer, or a warrior, ask what he or she knows about (a) world history, and about (b) the old verities that people from Plato and Aristotle to Emerson and Ken Wilbur have offered us.
If your adversaries--or the guy next door--know little or nothing about the West, Western history and civilization, and what got us here, you have the upper hand. If so, don't gloat. Feel lucky. Exploit it. Learn more.
Posted by JD Hull at August 20, 2010 08:59 PM