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  1. With Friends Like These by Reckless Serenade | Free Listening on SoundCloud
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Do you have a question about this achievement? Small Print.

With Friends Like These by Reckless Serenade | Free Listening on SoundCloud

This solution has 53 positive votes and 2 negative votes. Please log in to vote. This achievement is obtained after completing the first Dark Brotherhood mission. To start this questline, travel to Windhelm. The first city guard you speak to should mention a "curse" and direct you to the Aretino residence.

Before entering the residence, you will overhear a conversation outside between Grimvar Cruel-Sea and Idesa Sadri, and they will be discussing what Aventus Aretino has done. In his work as a public intellectual, he represented the easy interests and aspirations of his class and little else. His judgment of the work of Harvard's faculty was not strong; he had a particular hatred of the philosopher George Santayana "he does not dig ditches, or lay bricks, or write school-books, his product is not the ordinary useful, though humble, kind".

His vision of education, however, seems to be here to stay.

But since Eliot, the concept of liberal education has steadily lost even the appearance of having a meaning. Fareed Zakaria believes fervently in openness ; to him, a core curriculum of study for instance is almost opposed to liberal education.


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And for a few, liberal education is mostly defined by hostility toward mathematics which is, for the record, itself a liberal art. If we try to prove the utility of this undefined concept, we are struck with the many fields of study that are just as useless. As Eliot said of Santayana, a useful kind of study digs ditches and lays bricks; it builds better technologies, makes our lives more comfortable, or extends our lifespan.

Achievement Guide for With Friends Like These…

So what is useful? The answer is: not much. Pure mathematics has no place in a scheme of education that is about utility. Neither do the observational sciences, which are—despite being of great importance in the history of science—politely shown the door in pop accounts of the discipline. The fine arts, which have always depended on patronage for survival, will never be able to justify themselves on the grounds of utility. Even fields of medicine which cannot promise quick results or which are only dubiously profitable will have—and do have— trouble surviving in this kind of climate.

With Friends Like These

So none of these things are useful, in the immediate "what does this contribute" sense of the word. Usefulness, it turns out, is a measure that will destroy a lot of things. And maybe it will, in fact, destroy all these things. That would be bad; but it cannot really be prevented by pretending they are useful.


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The counter-argument that I usually encounter here goes like this: You have to make the argument that appeals to others, not the argument that is the most rigorous. If people like being useful, make them feel useful.

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But once bad arguments stop working, they begin to do damage. Eliot's argument for making "liberal arts" a more inclusive term was really an attempt to borrow prestige. But the prestige is now gone. We are left with the consequences of his argument: a claim to a particular kind of ditch-digging usefulness that, in the ordinary course of things, liberal education would probably not have made for itself. In this instance, however, we do not have to make sacrifices for short-term gains.


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  8. What arguments should be made? I have my opinions, but I do not expect many defenders of liberal education to join me in the embrace of uselessness. Nor do I expect them to reject Eliot's broader reforms. However, I would suggest that they do begin, not only by settling on , but by embracing the work that academics actually do in the disciplines they seem to support, and embracing that work in its particularity.

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    With Friends Like These

    The future of Plato rests not with the university's marketing consultants, but with the classicists who are tasked with and trained to continue to produce critical editions of his work. As the field of classics shrinks, so too do the people trained to do this work. This has consequences: Oxford University has begun crowdsourcing transcriptions of papyri. What was useful work for young classicists will be increasingly farmed out to enthusiastic hobbyists.

    For transcriptions, this is probably not so bad.