I’m just outright stealing this quote from Josh Brown, who got it from Abraham Heschel, who, I believe, I quoted at length here before. Rabbi Heschel was a Hebrew scholar whose works and work had a tremendous influence on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But this is beautiful and I think that every Literature (and Math, Science, Spanish, History, Social Sciences…) teacher should have this committed to memory and hanging above their workspace.
The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. The modern man learns in order to use. To Bacon we owe the formulation, “Knowledge is power.” This is how people are urged to study: knowledge means success. We do not know any more how to justify any value except in terms of expediency. Man is willing to define himself as “a seeker after the maximum degree of comfort for the minimum expenditure of energy.” He equates value with that which avails. He feels, acts, and thinks as if the sole purpose of the universe were to satisfy his needs. To the modern man everything seems calculable; everything reducible to a figure. He has the supreme faith in statistics and abhors the idea of a mystery. He is sure of his ability to explain all mystery away.