A Defence of Classical Education was first published in 1916 by Richard Winn Livingstone (1880-1960). The book’s time saw restless ferment against the centuries-long dominance of Latin and Greek in education. The new agitation was for “usefulness” and “getting on” as educational ideals, of fitting young people for the “modern world.” This effectively meant applied science on the one hand and commercial training on the other. A thin hope remained that the classical approach would survive once the clouds of World War I cleared. In the end, this hope was immediately frustrated in a newly dislocated world.
But Livingstone was not swayed by the Great Dilution that would set back the cause of civilization by centuries. A Defence of Classical Education features arguments that are as valid today as they have been for the last millennium. By learning Latin and Greek and by studying the civilizations of Greece and Rome, Livingstone argues that we foster formative knowledge and cultivate wisdom and virtue. In the new age dawning of “Artificial Intelligence,” here is a case for enhancing Real Intelligence within human souls.
“A man who knows the origins of the world in which he lives,” Livingstone wrote, “looks at it with more understanding, walks in it with securer and more certain steps; he is less intimidated by words, for he knows their history, less inclined to either excessive respect or contempt for existing institutions, for he sees how they came to be there.”