“We think by feeling. What is there to know?” Roethke, “The Waking” Just as the concept of traditional disciplines needs to be questioned, traditional attitudes towards learning would benefit from a more inclusive look at how our ideas and values are formed and change over time. In this discussion we have as much to learn from van Gogh as from Wittgenstein. Whitman’s lifelong public journey is as illuminating as that of Kierkegaard’s. Both would undoubtedly agree with Goethe that “thinking is more interesting than knowing.” Such individuals show us that learning is not something easily categorized We need to reach across the disciplines and cultures in order to appreciate the powerful thinkers of the past, whether theoretical or practical. We need both Aristotle and Franklin. Sometimes what begins as primarily theoretical, such as Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience, may result in concrete actions and social change, as its applications by Gandhi and King demonstrate. By experimenting with new approaches when giving shape to their experience, imaginative American writers encourage us to question our perspectives and values. Faulkner’s insight that the artist is freest when “sublimating the actual into the apocryphal” is evident at least as far back as Irving. Emerson’s call to “enjoy an original relation to the universe” can be understood in contradictory yet complementary ways. Such writers show us that even though the ingredients are the same, the recipe can be new. Human nature may not change, but the way it’s understood and presented does.
Danny Robinson, Bloomsburg University, USA
Stream: Higher education
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