“Knowledge is power” is a quote often attributed to Francis Bacon, and its sentiment is responsible for much of the dissolution of our modern souls.
When I teach The Lord of the Rings, some students will inevitably tell me that they do not like fantasy because “it’s not the real world.” It took me a while to realize that, to them, the ‘real world’ is a disenchanted one. This is of no fault of their own. We swim in a disenchanted cultural current. I too was educated and formed to believe the disenchanted idea of the real world. As philosopher Charles Taylor notes in A Secular Age, our modern epoch is an era of disenchantment.
Classical education seeks to return to the old paths of wisdom and finds nourishment from those excellencies and virtues which our predecessors judged worthy of preserving. It is not concerned with the transient or ephemeral, but sends its roots into deeper soil. Thus, classical schools devote much time to the reading of old books as they cultivate a posture of respect and admiration towards the best of what has been thought or said.