“On Moral Education”
In a recent lecture, I mentioned the word “genocide” and I realized that youths in the audience responded by talking about “constructed ideologies” such as mentioned and when I talked about ethics of memory. So I found the opportunity to elaborate my thoughts, as I quote here. In summary, I believe that morality is not the matter of culture or of knowledge. After all, the Nazis, who made all this inhuman crimes, were not without impeccable education. The Germany of the 30s, the homeland of Bach, Beethoven, Goethe, Kant and Hölderlin had a remarkable school and university system in the world. Yet, that did not stop the savagery. Something similar happens with the slaughtering of radical Islamism, Bin Laden and many of their fighters were not illiterate or uneducated. Many of savage executioners, like jihadists today, are scientists (sic) or lawyers, meaning that they are generally literate. Such a finding is bothering all the heirs of the Enlightenment and of Voltaire, who believed that the advancement of knowledge means progress and civilization. The Nazi elite, the Bolsheviks, or jihadists had education and culture in the twentieth century. It therefore turns out that one can be uneducated and be good, or one can even be cultivated and be villainous. Today, we need Moral Education. This is not only the matter of school, knowledge or information. It is above all the relationship with our family roots, and the relationship with our parents. A good professor is not good enough to change things, but the children, before attending to schools, also have to have a balanced relationship with the family. They have to learn what is good and bad. This is the base of moral education.
Professor, artist, poet
Advisor to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on culture