Get Thee Behind Abe, Editors!

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Hattip to Steven Hayward at Powerline.   Decades ago I recall watching a commercial, see the video below, where Abraham Lincoln is turned down for an executive position because he lacked a college degree.   I have often thought that Lincoln would not have been Lincoln without the arduous process of self education that he continued throughout his life.  (During his election campaign in 1860 he was pained to see that his campaign claimed that he had read Plutarch’s Lives.  He hadn’t, but he took time  out to do so before he was elected.)  Of course in his day it was not unusual for a self taught man to rise high politically.  In our day it is almost unthinkable, Harry Truman being the last president who did not attend college.  This is a great pity.  Self taught men and women can sometimes end up as town cranks or bores at bars, but sometimes they bring vitality and fresh insights that cannot be taught at any institution of higher learning, and their intellects are sharpened by their lonely quest for knowledge.  Lincoln regretted his lack of almost any formal education, but in his case I suspect his genius would have been lessened by it.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Thomas Jefferson had the right idea about college. Go when you will, study what you will and leave when you will.
    ” Lincoln regretted his lack of almost any formal education, but in his case I suspect his genius would have been lessened by it.” Absolutely.

  2. As someone who has not earned a degree but is surrounded in the work environment by people with multiple human services degrees I agree with you. It seems that I am the only person at work who is still seeking knowledge through the written word. None of the college graduates are ever ready anything, it even the NY Times . Which I thought was their noble.I on the other hand am I too willing to delve into esoteric subject matters such as; Interwar French military political relationships, papal encyclicals, the Angevin empire etc. Often times they make me feel like such a bore because they are incapable of conversing about anything except what is in front of them. I blame are high schools and colleges for producing educated people are are not educated at all and incapable of creative thought.

  3. Whoever edited this no doubt writes advertising copy for a living. It is wrong on most counts, not least the last point which claims “for” as a conjunction when it is clearly a preposition. Three-fold repetition of similar ideas is a rhetorical device used in Latin; “we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow” is echoed in the Roman Canon – “haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata” and “hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam”, now happily restored in the new translation.

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