John Churchill in the Spring 2006 Key Reporter (Phi Beta Kappa newsletter) editorializes about the relevance to society of a strange club with the motto "The love of learning is the guide of life." He reflects on the core values of democracy and identifies three "skills of deliberation that are important to citizenship":

  1. capacities of critical thought that provide an understanding of how to make and evaluate arguments,
  2. possession of knowledge of the facts whose relevance to things that matter makes them reasons that can be presented in arguments, and
  3. discernment about what matters – that is, what is worth deliberating about.

Earlier in his essay Churchill raises the question, "Is Phi Beta Kappa gloriously useless?" He concludes:

If citizens in a democracy are to deliberate, these are their tools. They need to be able to think; they need facts to think with; and they need a grasp of what is worth thinking about. So, if we want a democracy that is about more than counting votes, a democracy in which citizens are equipped to withstand the skills of manipulators and in which the connection between truth and freedom is clear, we will support the ideals of Phi Beta Kappa. Useful as well as glorious.

(cf. and QuestionsIdeasArguments (14 Sep 2000), EducationOfTheYouth (1 Dec 2001), PursuitOfExcellence (22 Feb 2002), LiberalArts (13 Mar 2003), BroncBurnett (1 Jul 2004), ...)

TopicSociety - TopicThinking - 2006-03-23

(correlates: ProdesseQuamConspici, PursuitOfExcellence, Joan Benoit Samuelson on Growing Up, ...)