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Word On Education
Robert Green Ingersoll
A WORD ABOUT EDUCATION. 1891 The end of life -- the object of life -- is happiness. Nothing can be better than that -- nothing higher. In order to be really happy, man must be in harmony with his surroundings, with the conditions of well-being. In order to know these surroundings, he must be educated, and education is of value only as it contributes Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 14 A WORD ABOUT EDUCATION. to the well-being of man, and only that is education which increases the power of man to gratify his real wants -- wants of body and of mind. The educated man knows the necessity of finding out the facts in nature, the relations between himself and his fellow-men, between himself and the world, to the end that he may take advantage of these facts and relations for the benefit of himself and others. He knows that a man may understand Latin and Greek, Hebrew and Sanscrit, and be as ignorant of the great facts and forces in nature as a native of Central Africa. The educated man knows something that he can use, not only for the benefit of himself, but for the benefit of others. Every skilled mechanic, every good farmer, every man who knows some of the real facts in nature that touch him, is to that extent an educated man. The skilled mechanic and the intelligent farmer may not be what we call "scholars," and what we call scholars may not be educated men. Man is in constant need. He must protect himself from cold and heat, from sun and storm. He needs food and raiment for the body, and he needs what we call art for the development and gratification of his brain. Beginning with what are called the necessaries of life, he rises to what are known as the luxuries, and the luxuries become necessaries, and above luxuries he rises to the highest wants of the soul. The man who is fitted to take care of himself, in the conditions he may be placed, is, in a very important sense, an educated man. The savage who understands the habits of animals, who is a good hunter and fisher, is a man of education, taking into consideration his circumstances. The graduate of a university who cannot take care of himself -- no matter how much he may have studied -- is not an educated man. In our time, an educated man, whether a mechanic, a farmer, or one who follows a profession, should know something about what the world has discovered. He should have an idea of the outlines of the sciences. He should have read a little, at least, of the best that has been written. He should know something of mechanics, a little about politics, commerce, and metaphysics; and in addition to all this, he should know how to make something. His hands should be educated, so that he can, if necessary, supply his own wants by supplying the wants of others. There are mental misers -- men who gather learning all their lives and keep it to themselves. They are worse than hoarders of gold, because when they die their learning dies with them, while the metal miser is compelled to leave his gold for others. The first duty of man is to support himself -- to see to it that he does not become a burden. His next duty is to help others if he has a surplus, and if he really believes they deserve to be helped. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 15 A WORD ABOUT EDUCATION. It is not necessary to have what is called a university education in order to be useful or to be happy, any more than it is necessary to be rich, to be happy. Great wealth is a great burden, and to have more than you can use, is to care for more than you want. The happiest are those who are prosperous, and who by reasonable endeavor can supply their reasonable wants and have a little surplus year by year for the winter of their lives. So, it is no use to learn thousands and thousands of useless facts, or to fill the brain with unspoken tongues. This is burdening yourself with more than you can use. The best way is to learn the useful. We all know that men in moderate circumstances can have just as comfortable houses as the richest, just as comfortable clothing, just as good food. They can see just as fine paintings, just as marvelous statues, and they can hear just as good music: They can attend the same theaters and the same operas. They can enjoy the same sunshine, and above all, can love and be loved just as well as kings and millionaires. So the conclusion of the whole matter is, that he is educated who knows how to take care of himself; and that the happy man is the successful man, and that it is only a burden to have more than you want, or to learn those things that you cannot use. The High School Register. Omaha, Nebraska, January, 1891. **** **** Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship. The Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended -- The Free Market-Place of Ideas. The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America. Bank of Wisdom Box 926, Louisville, KY 40201 16