Useless Knowledge (Thoreau And Newman) Essay

1089 words - 4 pages

Knowledge, according to the Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary is defined as "A clear and certain perception of something; the act, fact, or state of knowing; understanding." Knowledge is something everyone possesses, granted some have more knowledge than others and it forms itself in many different ways however nonetheless, everyone has some sort of knowledge. Knowledge is something people use in everyday life from waking up and getting ready for the day to taking a test or completing daily duties in the office. However, everything people have once learned may not be used in everyday life, therefore is it fair to say that useless knowledge exists? After reading a couple of pieces from two remarkable philosophers, one being Henry David Thoreau in "Walking" and the other being John Henry Newman in "The Uses of Knowledge" I believe that useless knowledge exists in the world. While Thoreau illustrates his ideas to the reader through images of nature and our surroundings in life, Newman illustrates his perspectives in a lecture format. Through their works, both authors think of knowledge as a rather useless and irrelevant asset in order to succeed in life, which supports the argument that humans learn as they grow and interact, more so than when they sit behind a desk for nine months out of the year while being lectured to in what seems like a foreign language.How many students at Saint Mary's College would really take seminar class if it wasn't forced upon them in order to graduate? The answer is obvious, and the fact is that not many students if any at all would take the class. However, this seems awkward since many studies from the college show that seniors who have graduated in years past loved seminar and have labeled it as their favorite class. Along with labeling seminar as their favorite class they say that seminar is the one class that has taught them the most and has helped them the most in the real world. This supports Newman's beliefs at the top of page 49 when he states,"When a multitude of young men, keen, open-hearted, sympathetic, and observant, as young men are, come together and freely mix with each other, they are sure to learn one from another, even if there be no one to teach them; the conversation of all is a series of lectures to each, and they gain for themselves new ideas and views, fresh matter of thought, and distinct principles for judging and acting, day by day" (Newman, pg. 49).Newman would love what Saint Mary's does as far as the teaching of seminar is considered, however, what would he say about the other aspects of the college? By other aspects I mean the lecturing about subjects such as science, fine arts, and philosophy to a business major? This is when I would draw the line and agree with Newman when he states,"... moreover, that this end is twofold, either of this world or of the next; that all knowledge is cultivated either for secular objects or for eternal; that if it is directed to secular objects,...

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