Just to recall you guys that "liber" in Latin means both "free" and "book".
Although the "Ars liberalis " were relatively free, there were also lot of 
"libri" involved.
One can't help to link the two concepts, although in the original Latin word 
"book" could not mean a book in its format as we know it, it is tasty to 
speculate about individual and social liberty and the use of books.
Certainly, also, we cannot dissociate Latin from its medieval use where 
"liber" was used to mean "book" as we know them but made by hand.
For those native in neo Latin languages there other meanings associated with 
liberal like "generous". But yes, the common meaning of liberal is rooted in 
the English economical and political liberalism of the 18th century that
then evolved to a slightly different meaning after the so called "liberal 
civil wars" in the first half of the 19th century that ended with a 
Constitution and political "democracy". Liberal has, today, here, a 
connotation with the Milton Friedman's kind of economic policies, and
although I understand why Keynes is liberal in America, our economical 
theory opposes Keynes to the so-called School of Chicago liberals :).It is 
fair to admit that some of us will link the word "liberal" with the kind of 
other "Tatcherisms" in Europe and the consequent reshape of funding 
policies. Laissez Faire normally means, "Let them choke to death or find 
their own way out". For us, continentals, the so-called performance of 
American Universities is seldom waved at us because the most successful ones 
aren't in the State's pay roll.
Like in Cinema, European Universities looked as if they were really in pace 
with their American "competitors" until WWII. Something happened afterwards 
(for which almost total destruction and generalized famine shouldn't be 

Sometimes some foreign friends ask me: You Portuguese guys were so rich back 
at the discoveries age... what have you done with all that money? Well, I 
don't know exactly but in 1755, 80% of our capital city was destroyed by a 
giant earthquake and southwards the destruction was increasingly higher, so 
it is fair to say that more than half the country was destroyed. All of the 
ships in the sea were destroyed. Even in Brazil the tsunami arrived with 
destructive power. Sometimes you look like you have recovered but you haven't.

The despotic Prime Minister of the time had just expelled the Jesuits 
(owners of most of the higher education after the 16th century reforms). The 
Jesuits had tried to modernize the triumvirium and the quadrivirium keeping 
the sane philosophical rationalism encompassed inside scholastics.

The Nazis had done pretty much the same as our prime minister with Jewish 
and other left wing intellectuals and scientists. After the war the 
Americans gave also a cradle for Nazi scientists. So we are arriving to what 
it could be called liberal education: Theodor Adorno, like many others 
resumed their careers in the US.

Although even recently Georgio Agamben refused to go back to America for 
lectures, he did so even though nobody foreboded him to do so.

Well, in Portugal's 18th century, eventually, the Jesuits came back, 50 
years after, when they were already obsolete and anti liberal. Napoleon 
promoted his imperial laws and Continental Universities that evolved linked 
to the higher designs of the national states opposite to Saxon Universities 
linked to the higher designs of citizens (rich ones preferably). A Bolognese 
conspiracy (as a few days ago Ranulph Glanville and I discussed this in his 
nice visit to Lisbon) restored a continental University system with some 
stuff belonging to the Saxons but more or less with lots of our typical 
national idiosyncrasies.

Sam Soumitri, a few days ago summoned my contribution for the everlasting 
discussion about PhD pressure and different traditions.

So, I can tell you some anecdotes: Fernando Carvalho Rodrigues, our boss at 
UNIDCOM, got his PhD at the age of 27 at the University of Liverpool. It was 
back in 1974, in Electronic Engineering. This followed a period of 5 years 
of study in Physics, here in Lisbon. For the past 30 years he "forced" a 
great number of guys through PhD studies. He is mad if you don't do it in 
three years. This is the Science and Technology recent tradition in Portugal 
(although Fernando is really an outstanding character).

My wife Susana after a Five-year course in Fine Arts with outstanding marks, 
decided to do a Masters Course in Philosophy of Art, 4 years duration (two 
years of lectures and two years for the thesis). Now she is completing her 
PhD in Communication and Culture (already working for three years with one 
year of lectures) is expected to finish next year.

Carlos Duarte, Fernando's PhD student, worked out the whole thing in three 
years. I did mine in 5 years but I spend two years playing Tetris, 
scribbling and reading as a flâneur. And we are colleagues at the same 
school. Art&Design Schools are bond for diversity.

Last week I went to the PhD discussion of one of my undergraduate professors 
that, at the age of 65 completed his PhD. He started in the seventies with 
post-structuralism models and his thesis ended up to be why he didn't manage 
to do his thesis. He worked as an architect and urban planner and taught all 
away through the process.

The beauty of higher education is diversity. Is saying: yes the way you are 
doing it is ALSO a good way of doing it.

Liberal, in a sense, should mean simply this.

Sorry for the long post,


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ken Friedman" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2007 10:31 AM
Subject: Re: Liberal?

Dear Gunnar,

On the chance that Joe missed a comment on this specific point, I'm going
to repost part of an earlier note.

There is no connection between the two uses of the word "liberal."

The term liberal has several meanings in politics, ranging from what
involves minimal government engagement in private-sector affairs. It is in
this sense that Adam Smith's economic vision was "liberal," as was Hayek's
vision or Coase's. In other places, the term may mean quite the opposite,
referring to government intervention in economic policies. It is in this
sense that Keynes's vision was liberal, as was Franklin Delano
Roosevelt's. The term has several meanings, depending on the nation, era,
and context.

Liberal education is something else. It has nothing to do with economic
policy, nor with relativism. I'm posting this note again because I would
hate to see us go down a slippery road debating issues that require
careful, long notes for clarity and precise meaning.

The term "liberal education" involves education related to or based on the
liberal arts. The liberal arts are those fields of study that derive from
the medieval trivium and quadrivium. The trivium consisted of grammar,
rhetoric, and logic. The quadrivium was comprised of arithmetic, music,
geometry, and astronomy. The idea of the seven arts was a form of learning
that prepared the educated person for a life of public participation in
the community as an educated citizen. Liberal education led to a
bachelor's degree. Following the bachelor's degree in the liberal arts,
one might move on to professional studies in such fields as law, medicine
or theology. Or, these days, design or engineering.

Today, a liberal education involves studies in such liberal arts as
literature or language, philosophy, the sciences, history, or mathematics
in a college or research university. The purpose of liberal arts study is
developing the character and intellect.

The primary distinction here involves the distinction between the liberal
arts and professional training for vocational skills.

Joe's note on relativism demonstrates the fact that he has not been
reading much in the liberal arts. The foremost advocates of liberal
education have often been strong critics of moral or epistemological
relativism. A liberal education gives one the knowledge and skill to place
issues in context. To understand something, one must see it in a
contextual and relational framework. This does not mean that one adopts
a "relativist" position.

As far as I am concerned, Joe got off on the wrong foot conflating these
two meanings of the word "liberal." The word that looks and sounds the
same, but it has different meanings. There is no connection between these
two uses of the word.

The complaint that Joe echoed in an earlier post had to do with the
complaint that some faculty members at North American universities are
supposedly biased toward political liberalism. Whether this is true or
not -- and I'd argue that it may not be so in North America today -- has
nothing to do with the liberal arts. The supposed biases occur across all
faculties including the professional schools. And many traditional liberal
arts faculties are home to political conservatives as well as anti-
relativists (who may not be politically conservative).

This thread mixes apples, oranges, cheese, and chalk.

Stating the kinds of sweeping claims that Joe offers requires clarity and
substantiation. Not to mention a look at John Dewey, Isaiah Berlin, Robert
Hutchins, Allan Bloom, and a few others of different political persuasions
yet all dedicated to the importance of the liberal arts.

Ken Friedman

On Mon, 26 Feb 2007 21:53:44 -0500, Swanson, Gunnar < [log in to unmask] >
>Dr. Joseph Chiodo wrote on Mon 2/26/2007 9:37 PM:
>>  My point was that yes, there is a connection.
>>  Chris Rust < [log in to unmask] > wrote:
>>> Is there ANY
>>> relationship between the two concepts of "liberal
>>> politics" and "liberal education"?
>Will you be more specific? What exactly is the connection between the two
uses of the word "liberal"?