Education and Empowerment

In sum, the business and managerial class of the United States is at a crossroads and in turn must make a tradeoff, in the sense that it must either selfishly pursue its own profit motive above all else while letting their country collapse as a result of a relative decline vis-à-vis China, or it can strike a fair balance between self-sacrifice and self-interest for the sake of the country as a whole. In turn, the approach towards a rising China can also strike a fair balance, in the sense that inevitable competition over the course of the next few decades can coincide with cooperation and partnership.

And in a world that is virtually changing minute-by-minute, both the business and managerial class as well as the middle and working class need to somehow keep up with all of it. As W.E.B. DuBois argued:

“In a day when culture is completely static, a man once grounded in the fundamentals of knowledge, received through current education, can depend on the more or less routine absorption of knowledge for keeping up with the world. This was true for decades during the nineteenth century, and usually has been true in the slow drift of many other centuries. But today, the tide runs swiftly, and almost every fundamental concept which most of us learned in college has undergone radical change;”

DuBois added:

“If, now, a college man…has spent his time since graduation mainly in making a living, he is in fair way not to be able to understand the world [now]. It is necessary then for men of education continually to readjust their knowledge, and this is doubly necessary in this day of swift revolution in ideas, in ideals, in industrial techniques, in rapid travel, and in varieties and kinds of human contacts.”

Thus, there is both an ethical and moral dimension as well as an economic dimension to a structural policy adjustment towards ‘class consensus’ and the empowerment of the middle and working class in the face of non-anthropomorphic and uncontrollable structural phenomena such as globalization and technology. Moreover, neither a structural policy adjustment nor a functional and operable system can materialize without an injection of philosophy into American public discourse and the American public sphere. The need for an injection of philosophy into the American public discourse and public sphere has been highlighted in a famous book by the 20th century American philosopher Allan Bloom, titled “The Closing of the American Mind.” The need for an injection of philosophy into the American public discourse and American public sphere is also the subject of discussion in a book by Cornel West titled “The American Evasion of Philosophy.” 

And in a book titled “The Ethical Dimensions of Marxist Thought,” Cornel West distinguishes between the importance of philosophy on one hand and the importance of intelligence and book knowledge on the other hand, and argues that the former is far more important for the improvement of the overall human condition than the latter:

“My passionate interest in philosophy was – and remains – primarily motivated by the radical historical conditionedness of human existence and the ways in which possibilities and potentialities are created, seized, and missed by individuals and communities within this ever changing conditionedness, including our inescapable death, illness, and disappointment.” 

West added:

“This attention to the historical character of all thought and action has led me to be suspicious of intellectual quests for truth unwilling to be truthful about themselves, including my own. So though I find delight in the life of the mind – inseparable from, yet not identical with, struggles for freedom – I do not put primary value on intelligence or book knowledge. Rather, I believe we have a moral obligation – for the quality of human life and protection of the environment – to be wise, especially about the pitfalls and shortcomings of mere intelligence and book knowledge.”

Hence, in order to actualize what is essentially the full potential of the human condition on earth, a transcendence through the ‘hierarchy of knowledge’ with intelligence and book knowledge as the stepping stone and philosophy as both the destination and the continuous journey is necessary and is required. 

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