UChicago’s Dr. Leon Kass on Genesis, Exodus, & Reading Great Books

This week on “The Learning Curve,” guest co-host Jason Bedrick and co-host Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Leon Kass, MD, the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. Dr. Kass describes the important pieces of wisdom and humanity people today can still learn from reading the Book of Genesis, the topic of his 2003 work, The Beginning of Wisdom. They next discuss his newest book, Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus, and general lessons about the Israelites that leaders, teachers, and students could use in addressing the challenges of modern life. They explore the influence of the Book of Exodus and the themes of liberation from captivity on the Civil Rights Movement, and several of its major leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and what teachers and students today should learn from Exodus about deliverance from life’s hardships. Dr. Kass shares why he became interested in the Great Books, and their crucial role in helping 21st-century students receive a complete liberal arts education and lead fulfilling lives. They discuss Western education’s increasing focus on vocationally oriented and often technocratic skills at the expense of humanistic education, and why we should be concerned about it, especially in our hyper-technological era. The interview concludes with a reading from Dr. Kass’s newest book on Exodus.

Stories of the Week: Co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson discuss New York Times story on the plight of America’s nine million students in rural school districts that are underfunded, disconnected, and face myriad challenges. Pioneer Institute and other organizations submitted an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Carson v. Makin, to expand access to private and religious schools for families in Maine.

The next episode will air on Wednesday, September 22nd with guest, Julie Young, Deputy Vice President of Education Outreach and Student Services for Arizona State University, and CEO of ASU Prep Digital High School.

Guest:

Dr. Leon Kass, MD, is the Addie Clark Harding Professor Emeritus in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago. He is also a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank in Washington, DC. Dr. Kass was the chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics from 2001 to 2005, as well as a Member, Vice-Chairman, and Committee Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1984-91. He has been engaged for more than 40 years with ethical and philosophical issues raised by biomedical advances and, more recently, with broader moral and cultural issues. Dr. Kass is the author of several widely acclaimed books, including The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis (2003), Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times (2017), and Founding God’s Nation: Reading Exodus (2021).

Tweet of the Week:

News Links:

NYT: The Tragedy of America’s Rural Schools

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/magazine/rural-public-education.html

SCOTUS Amici briefs for Carson v. Makin: Pioneer Institute & Prof. Charles Glenn:

https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/20/20-1088/191979/20210910093745365_Carson%20v.%20Makin%20Glenn%20Amicus%20Brief.pdf

https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/20/20-1088/192035/20210910121842949_20-1088%20Amicus%20Brief%20for%20Pioneer%20Institute.pdf

https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20-1088.html

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