Aristotle and the First Day of Autumn Classes

As we lean closer and closer to November, and since the political rhetoric is going to get even more insane than this, it seemed necessary to revisit Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (the David Ross translations from Oxford World Classics) a couple days ago. As is the case when wandering around in the history of ideas, any number of said ideas will barrage the brain and apply themselves to contemporary conundrums, situations, and topics. Instead of focusing on or responding any further to said insane political rhetoric, a more constructive use of time came by way of coming across Aristotle’s remarks on academic or professional training. In Book VII, Part 3 of his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle said,

…those who have just begun to learn a science can string together its phrases, but do not yet know it; for it has to become part of themselves, and that takes time…”

Today, 20 August 2012, at 4:00PM, the North Dakota University System mobilized and started the autumn semester, North Dakota State University included. I was thinking how tens of thousands of incoming and returning students will begin or continue professional training within the state, and sometimes it is worth remembering that this professional training takes time. No one wakes up one day, picks up a skate board for the first time, and flawlessly executes an ollie impossible — I stick to walking for these reasons, as I found it is safer for society and myself. Ollie impossibles and any kind of technical and theoretical training requires repetition and practice, similar to what Aristotle mentioned above, or what Zeno of Kitium knew — rail slides and all. Professional training takes time. I think it’s important to remind students of that.

Glad to start the semester, get my head back in the books, the studies, the reports, and in conversation and seminar. Off to it…


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