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The Private Academy

The Private Academy And the “lost tools of learning”

No. 5-6, May.-Aug. 2017 » UNI(di)VERSITY

The Private Academy (www.academiaprivata.ro) is a purely private educational project. Initiated in the fall of 2015, it was meant as an alternative set up to recover the spirit of authentic education, devoid of official accreditations and useless stencils, and at the same time not dependent on captive clienteles. The idea behind it was that maybe there are people who still believe that education is a good thing that must be acquired not for diplomas or formalities, but for its intrinsic value. Likewise, maybe there are people who think education is a good thing and who believe that they have something to offer in this respect. The only genuine reform of education is to bring those categories together.

The Private Academy project was undertaken in the shadow of The Ludwig von Mises Institute – Romania. Thus, the beginnings and the first courses had to do with economics, more precisely with the economics of the Austrian school. In virtue of a widely acknowledged affinity, a second component was, from the very beginning, the political philosophy of libertarianism and classical liberalism. Finally yet importantly, continuing a growing tradition within the confines of the above mentioned institute, topics of eastern orthodox Christian spirituality have been tackled. Moreover, the project does not seek to limit itself to these fields, and in the intervening years, the portfolio of lectures, seminars, workshops and courses has widened, covering history, music, art, literature, education and more.

The project seeks to revive, revaluate and maintain in use a number of “lost tools of learning” (as Dorothy Sayers put it).

In no particular order, we mention first the Great Books tradition, according to which there is no better educational route towards the free, responsible, mature and discernment-endowed person (features of someone ultimately capable of happiness) other than studying the great texts or works of universal culture. By going through well-chosen texts directly – that is by conversing directly with the great minds of the past – one is caught in an effort of understanding that enhances self-consciousness and self-control, informs and educates him, and also sharpens ones analytical capacities and discernment. All these can be afterwards reoriented, as good skills and habits, toward any other activity or sphere of life.

Second, the Private Academy seeks to recuperate the traditional idea of the unity of knowledge that underscored even modern universities at the time of their birth. Not only, then, that all fields of knowledge or sciences or disciplines refer to the same fundamental reality and that juxtaposing the accumulations of various compartments (with the corollary of extreme specialization not only as possible, but desirable). Approaching reality by strictly separated venues runs the risk of making the ensemble unintelligible. To put it in another way, even though the intrigue of some discussion might be an economic one, for example, the epistemological, ethical, metaphysical and – last but not least – theological presuppositions are necessarily there, and one of the aims of the Private Academy educational products is to always make them explicit and discuss them in their own right.

Third, following Ludwig von Mises, our project proposes its students or clients, we should say, to get constantly familiarized with both theoretical streams of thought and historical ones. Good theory, as they say is very practical, but precisely because of this, it should be sought in order to make sense of the real world as it is. In addition, this means, most of the times, making some sense of the world as it was at this or that particular moment or epoch in history.

Last, but not least, at the Private Academy the intention is to employ as thoroughly as possible the classic instrument of the trivium (the grammar, logic, rhetoric structure). All these with the idea in mind that education is naturally sequenced in stages such as accumulation of knowledge (“grammar”), then grasping the logical articulations inside this body of information (“logic”), culminating in the appraisement of the relevance of it, or its specific elements, for specific contextualization and application.

A selection of the courses, seminars and workshops offered:

Small Books, Great Ideas

Economics for everybody. A complete course

Exemplary lives of the XX century

Music for everybody

The landscape and the gentleman’s character in Jane Austen’s novels

Orthodoxy for economists & economics for the orthodox

The literature of the new world order

Conspiracy theory – a philosophical analysis

Booms and crises. Why the economy fluctuates and how to protect oneself

How to read a book (a workshop after Mortimer Adler)

The poison of European funds. Why foreign aid does not generate development

The law and economics of the firm

Technocracy or the scientist catechism. On ideas, people and events

On money, banks and bitcoin

Imperium and Sacerdotium in conflict. A case study: the Byzantine Empire (330-1453)

and many more…

 

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016