Monday, April 6, 2009

The Child, the Parent, and the State

A child is a potential man. Man is characterized by the fact that he acts and that he has morality. To act is to behave with purpose: using reason to willfully choose between alternative means toward ends. Morality is a set of feelings which constrain action. Newborn infants do not act; their behaviors are involuntary responses to internal urges and external stimuli. And since they do not act, they cannot have moral constraints on action. The maturation of the soul is the gradual actualization of the child’s potential to be a man: that is, the gradual development of purpose, will, reason, and morality. In the later stages of childhood, the child has imperfect purpose (his ends will tend to be capricious), imperfect will (he will tend to be diverted from his ends by his innate urges), imperfect reason (he will tend to choose less than optimal, or even ineffective means to his ends), and imperfect morality (his urges will tend to override his moral feelings). Manhood is more of a continuum than a discrete state. The more developed is one’s purpose, will, reason, and morality, the more one is a man. Learning is the part of maturation which is fostered by sensory input and the processing of sensory input. Parenting is the involvement of others in the process of general maturation. Education is the involvement of others in the process of learning.

The state tries to parent and educate the children of its citizens. It does so for its own ends. Therefore, it tries to make its own ends the ends of the child, and tries to inculcate a false morality conducive to its own ends. The state is inherently incompetent and indolent, so it does an ineffective job at fostering the faculties of will and reason in the child. The best educators of a child are his biological parents or those who have wholly taken on the responsibilities of parenthood. Such parents have an overwhelming Darwinian imperative to foster the success of the child for ITS OWN sake. The next best educators of a child are professional educators who, in addition to having certain fields of expertise, have an overwhelming market imperative to satisfy the parents as customers.

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