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American Education and American Citizenship: An Address Delivered Before the Associated Alumni of the University of Rochester (Classic Reprint) (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 5 may 2018

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Excerpt from American Education and American Citizenship: An Address Delivered Before the Associated Alumni of the University of Rochester

The statements I have already made are intended simply to emphasize what perhaps may need no special emphasis that education cannot, in any proper sense, be regarded as an end in itself, but that its value and efficiency depend up on an appreciation of the dignity and demands of human life. But may it not be pertinent to go a step farther and ask, What is that conception of life which should be kept in view in our educational systems? What, in short, is the real significance of human life - what is life for? One of the greatest achievements of modern science is generally conceded to be the discovery of the law of evolution. One of the factors of this law relates to the theory of lifewherein life is regarded as a universal struggle for exist ence. As this theory is generally interpreted, those individ nals which are best fitted by virtue of superior strength or intelligence, survive; while the weak and less intelligent go to the wall. Life is looked upon as a battle for survivor ship and supremacy. And this is supposed to apply not only to the lower animals, but to man as well; and is often emphasized as a stimulant to education. Success in life is looked upon as a victory in the battle of life. To achieve success one must possess the power and the intelligence necessary to triumph over others. If he has not received by nature the requisite amount of strength and skill, he must cultivate and develop it by artificial means. In this way he may obtain an advantage in the inevitable struggle; in this way he may acquire personal power and supremacy, and thus reduce others to a relative condition of subordina tion. It is by his superior knowledge and mental discipline obtained by education, that he may acquire those qualities which will enable him to outwit his fellow men, and will ensure his preeminence in the world and hence his success in life. This is the egoi'stic theory of life and education a theory which is based upon the hypothesis that the life of man, like the life of the brute, is a competitive struggle for existence and individual supremacy. So far as this theory is accepted and adopted as a principle of action, it begets the spirit of self-aggrandizement, of personal ambi tion, of excessive individualism, of antagonism of man against man. It ignores the social instincts of human na ture, and enthrones selfishness as the ruling principle of human conduct. It perverts and poisons the spirit of in dustrial enterprise, and leads to the exploitation of the weak by the strong. It infects and corrupts the political life of the nation, by debasing its legitimate institutions for the advancement of selfish ends - making of the ballotan instrument of bribery, of parties the means of acquiring personal power and mastery, and of our legislative halls a field for individual and corporate plunder.

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