Jan Zwicky's fertile essays expose by contrast the aridity of much contemporary writing about the point of humanistic endeavor and intellectual life. Thinking, in her account, is importantly the work of imagination. The more common focus on critical thinking, in arguments on behalf of liberal arts pedagogy, does put a salutary emphasis on some aspects of thoughtfulness, for instance, use of evidence and argumentation, but Zwicky is right that this approach fails to articulate a standard for synthetic, imaginative discernment that meaningfully grasps the world. Zwicky usefully provides an account of just such a standard. Yet her argument that “other than pointing and hoping, there are no rules, no algorithms, by which human perception of a gestalt may be facilitated” sells the work of teachers short. An alternative case is made by Plato in his representation of Socrates-as-teacher, and most of this article is a case study of passages from the Republic.

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