Excellent observation. The question is what is the “edge” that classical education offers to a system? And how is it restored?
The central message of our heritage is ἄτη (blindness) & αμαρτια (sin) not only in religious terms but also in political, philosophical
Modern examples of ἄτη (blindness):
i. promote bottom-up local actions blind to the fact that this builds a top-down dictatorship (e.g. ANTIFA, Lenin-style grassroots, mafia)
ii. promote “free market capitalism” blind to the fact that it strangles the market (corporatism)
ἄτη is a tunnel vision on risks that we have to face. To avoid a single risk, we take action. Our action becomes our death trap.
ἄτη = invisible risk-risk tradeoffs, blinded by loud proximate causes while distant causes remain silent (physics vs. meta-physics).
Example: The Roman Empire faced the risk of Christianity. Diocletianic Persecution (303–312), was the bloodiest official persecution of Christianity.
Just one generation later, the Christians had taken over the Empire (Greek language, once again, took over).
Diocletian is an interesting fellow since, until today, is considered a reasonable Emperor. Only a few notice that whatever he did, was turned against its original purpose.
Printed money for his soldiers… inflation.
United state & religion… state became Christian.
Christians took over because, unlike Diocletian, they were not blinded by proximate causes. They knew how existential is the threat of sin (corruption) in assessing risks.
ἄτη → ὕβρις → νέμεσις → τίσις
blindness → hubris → epic mistake (nemesis) → destruction
Blindness → hubris
I’d suggest revisiting the speech of JFK where he claims “Our way of life is under attack”. The press can’t impose self-discipline & resist temptation. Undisciplined freedom (1st amendment) undermines national security (ἄτη).
To summarise: the system is not transferred to the “best intellectuals”, but to those who can collectively resist sinning (Spartans, Athenians, Muslims, Christians etc). This happened multiple times, following huge geopolitical collapse.
Resist sinning, for most people, can only be enforced with external motivation, top-down hierarchies, rigid laws & religious restrictions. It’s easier & more practical. That’s how it still works for most part of the planet.
We’re at 800BC, the first scene of Illiad (Homer) starts directly with a hot debate between kings insulting each other. Achilles actively decided to NOT draw his sword because divine-inspired logos (voice of Athena) is more powerful than brute force. That’s the 1st “edge”.
Homer presents to the Greeks a dream that they had never accomplished in reality: UNITY. He presented an ideal mythical unity (co-existence) between different City-States, different local cultures, different gods, different ruling personalities.
By removing universal truth & logos, you have a division, now branded as “diversity”. Division in morals. Division in culture. Division of identity. The system can survive ONLY by enforcing one opinion over another (no universal values, there is no place of co-existence).
Classics gave the “edge” at Harvard, Oxford, Paris etc. by inspiring respect (internal motivation) to Natural Law & universal Truth. Respect on how nature actually works (natural philosophy). Muslims & Christians could undertake the same education (e.g. Plato, Aristotle).
Well-educated elites were not moral, as a class, but they were not naive. This has radically changed.
Progressivism evolves into “unnatural philosophy”. Views on gender, atheism etc. ignore the fundamentals of human nature & overstate social constructs & randomness.
So, the “edge” of a human system has to do with its “physical properties” as a system. The level of unity (vs. division), fragility, adaptation, humanism etc.
Hardcore STEM education is unable to replace 1000s years of literature on how society actually works.
If this is the scale of the “edge” of the classics, the question is “how” logos is restored?
I can’t see a way out of pain. Cultural pain & shock.
“ὃν οὐ τύπτει λόγος τύπτει ράβδος”
(whenever logos doesn’t work, the stick [punishment] works)
Renaissance was built on the aftermath of a huge cultural shock: the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Muslim world.
Bessarion gathered the first collection of manuscripts in the Republic of Venice, to establish what he called a “Second Byzantium” (alterum Byzantium).