Emolument’s Claws


“Nor can I do better, in conclusion, than impress upon you the study of Greek literature, which not only elevates above the vulgar herd, but leads not infrequently to positions of considerable emolument.”

-Thomas Gaisford

Few clearer proofs of the instrumentalization of knowledge can be given than the question, routinely posed to all students of the liberal arts, “What are you going to do with that?” This reification of knowledge as a discrete entity (a ‘skill set’) represents a fundamental error in the conception of knowledge on the part of those who see its primary value as an instrument.

Since the revival of learning (i.e. the Renaissance), the study of antiquity has never been practical in the sense of yielding concrete and tangible products in the world, yet it did nevertheless confer immense practical advantages on those who had studied it. From the Renaissance through at least the end…

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