In a conversation this morning on the way into the office I complained of what I called the “tyranny of pragmatism” that characterizes the approach of many students towards their education. In this I meant a kind of emphasis on what works, and in fact what works right now over what might work later or better.
Then I was reminded of this little catechism that appears in the notes of Luigi Taparelli’s treatise “Critical Analysis of the First Concepts of Social Economy,” which appears in translation in the latest issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality.
Taparelli writes of “an odd catechism attributed to the Anglo-Americans but that we believe most appropriate for that ignoble part of any society that takes utilitarianism for its guide.”
It proceeds thus:
What is life? A time to earn money.
What is money? The goal of life.
What is man? A machine for earning money.
What is woman? A machine for spending money, and so forth
What is the purpose of an education today if not primarily to teach us what works to make money right now?