A Plea for Morality and the Liberal Arts

"In the Old Testament we read that for the table of shewbread a golden crown was skillfully wrought [Exodus 25:23-25].  This signifies that we should cultivate eloquence, an active mind, chastity, fear of God, prudence, and virtues of every kind.  The table of shewbread ornamented with gold stands for the man who is crowned king because he is eminent in word and deed.  But today rusticity is mingled with learning in active and in contemplative life.  The muses are silent, confounded, repelled, as if numbed by the sight of Medusa.  But why, you ask?  If you are a real scholar you are thrust out in the cold.  Unless you are a money-maker, I say, you will be considered a fool, a pauper.  The lucrative arts, such as law and medicine, are now in vogue, and only those things are pursued which have a cash value."

--John of Garland, Morale scolarium (1241), chapter 1, paraphrased by Louis John Paetow (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1927), pp. 154-55.

I ask you, plus ça change, or what?


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