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Wendell Berry and Higher EducationCultivating Virtues of Place$
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Jack R. Baker and Jeffrey Bilbro

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813169026

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813169026.001.0001

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Practicing Gratitude and Respecting Limits

(p.116) 5 Hierarchy
Wendell Berry and Higher Education

Jack R. Baker

Jeffrey Bilbro

Wendell Berry

University Press of Kentucky

As a youth, Andy’s inconsiderate curiosity can’t be bothered to contemplate the consequences of his investigations. To remedy such recklessness, Berry argues that we should pursue knowledge within limits and apply it within healthy forms. Academics who are enculturated in a publish-or-perish environment, however, tend to form similarly driven, ambitious students who aspire to be global leaders heroically solving big problems. Yet universities should also honor humble vocations that help steward the health of local places. Such stewardship can be an act of gratitude for the good gift of life. This grateful stewardship runs counter to the denial of limits embedded in much of our contemporary culture, which believes in scientific progress and unending technological improvement. The arrogance and ingratitude that cause these various denials of limits are exacerbated by the specialized, fragmented organization of knowledge in higher education. Such isolation allows academics to be unmindful of and ungrateful for their places, the sources of their life and health. Members of universities can foster proper gratitude and an acceptance of our limited, embedded place in creation by observing the Sabbath, acknowledging our ignorance, and maintaining a local, contextual scope in learning.

Keywords:   “Andy Catlett: An Early Education”, gratitude, hierarchy, limits, Sabbath, ignorance

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