The Public Interest

Can liberal education survive liberal democracy?

Diana Schaub

Spring 2002

I WOULD like to begin with an oath to the goddess Hera. My warrant for such an unorthodox beginning comes from Socrates, who swore “by Hera” when he was involved in speeches about the betterment of the young. The uttering of such an oath was almost as unorthodox for him as it is for me, though for different reasons. In the Greek world, “by Hera” was a woman’s oath, Hera being the goddess who superintended childbirth and childrearing. The oath was taken up by Socrates—never one to scorn the wisdom of wQmen and never one to stand upon convention. The oath was used by him to indicate his preference for private, philosophic education as against civic education. 

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