Upon immigration to Wisconsin, German farmers thatched the roofs of their barns and homes with rye, which remained in practice until students and faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison genetically engineered Triticale. The wheat and rye hybrid has a longer, sturdier stalk, providing a much better material of which to thatch roofs. This advancement in agriculture benefited not only the state historical museum Old World Wisconsin, but people all over the globe who still desire to have this traditional style of roofing. Thus, UW Madison embodied the words of Charles Hise and his Wisconsin Idea originating in 1905, quoted as saying, “I shall never be content until the beneficent influence of the University reaches every family of the state.
” Plato’s notion that everybody has a proper role in society supports the Wisconsin Idea, which promotes a University’s responsibility to enrich and better the community beyond their campus. To be able to answer this question fully, let’s take a look at what it actually is. Taken from Wikipedia, The Wisconsin Idea is a policy developed in this state that fosters public universities’ contributions to the state: “to the government in the forms of serving in office, offering advice about public policy, providing information and exercising technical skill, and to the citizens in the forms of doing research directed at solving problems that are important to the state and conducting outreach activities.” A second facet of the philosophy is the effort “to ensure well-constructed legislation aimed at benefiting the greatest number of people”. So now that we have a solid definition, let’s break this down.
This philosophy is that the research done by the University, would contribute the benefit and well being of the people who reside in the state of Wisconsin. “This would in turn solve problems, improve health, quality of life, the environment, and agriculture for all citizens of the state.” Knowledge is to further us as a state, while the work done in these labs and studies will further us as a state, and nation, thanks to a public University.
To foster the importance of action in combination with wisdom, the University of Wisconsin-Madison instills a connection between students and the government through internships.This brings perspective students of law working in a fully functional governmental unit. The UW system offers many opportunities to perform within “state, local and municipal government offices…working side-by-side with their agency’s legal counsel” where they will “take an active role in tracking pending legislation and monitoring current events.” Through these students, the UW system employs agents of the educational institution into the community to aid the law, a concept Plato details as necessary for true justice.
A person I am close to has chosen to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in the pursuit of a law degree. She has already, as a first year freshman, secured an internship with a prestigious local law firm, an experience that not only enriches her as a student, but allows for a hands on experience with the clients of the firm. This opportunity benefits the community members involved as well, having a budding future lawyer on their case may allow for teaching moments of the law to be passed on to them as well, which may allow for a higher understanding of the American legal system.
Coming from Plato’s Republic, “It seems, then, that the power that consists in everyone’s doing his own work rivals wisdom, moderation, and courage in its contribution to the virtue of the city.” (433e). The interns, when working with these government officials, unite to aid the area they are serving.
The idea of wisdom is knowing when you are ignorant. This means that rulers, or the students paired with the experienced officials, therefore have ample amounts of notable wisdom. Courage comes into play when you realize that you have to know when to be afraid, judging which risks in law are worth taking. Finally, moderation allows for an equivalence between the previously mentioned virtues, creating a check and balance system that is a staple to the American justice system.These forms of serving in office aid students, faculty, agents of law, as well as the public through the effort of the UW system. Limiting a great mind to a secular task provides a disservice to the individual, as well as the community. Through the knowledge base of its many professors, the University of Wisconsin aids the local populace through not only educating in a traditional sense, but with the distribution of highly detailed and honed knowledge to employed civil servants for the betterment of the district as a whole. The University of Wisconsin system offers advice about public policy to students and members of the state.
Positions designed “to teach, research and provide leadership in the fields of public sector/local government finance and budgeting” is included in many UW campuses, with the sole intent to better those in the region. As discussed in class, to educate is to care, while educating the public is a social justice to improve yourself as well as those around you. This system allows for an equal education for those in society, in turn creating equal opportunity.
Education is of utmost importance if taught well and skillfully, as “the beginning of any process is most important” (377a). When creating an educational outreach affiliation, it would be best fit to accurately influence the members of the region with detailed factual information. This in turn leads to a more established, just society with the students making discoveries, and members of the public reaping similar benefits. Yet another act commemorated by the UW system is a contribution of knowledge to a world beyond academia. Professor Cynthia Fowler of the University of Wisconsin-Madison instructs courses on physiological assessment with auditory components, conducting research that “addresses the causes and mechanisms of hearing loss in aging and age-related diseases, including dementia and diabetes. In diabetes, Professor Fowler’s data suggest that accompanying hearing loss actually begins in the pre-diabetic stages, indicating that earlier treatment should be a focus.” With this certified knowledge, all individuals who may be impacted by this ailment will be able to take strides early on in their phases of complication, which may save the hearing of a multitude of people.
Fowler makes strides with her own research for aid of members in the community held responsible by the Wisconsin Idea. This helps those who are in need of the developmental research primarily because the connection between the UW system and the state. In addition to this we see the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, creating and making strides in research regarding the great lakes and other freshwater bodies. The department is quoted as saying, “our mission is to advance fundamental and strategic science and train the next generation of freshwater professionals to inform policy, improve management, and promote the health and sustainability of freshwater systems worldwide. The Freshwater Future Is Here. Come aboard and join us as we shape a new freshwater future regionally and globally right here in Milwaukee.” This step towards cleaner fresh water will not only benefit the environment of the region, but the level of education citizens possess to maintain the cleanliness of the resources surrounding them. The University urges everybody to “discover how outstanding science leads to good water policy.
Dive in and see how we earned a reputation for freshwater.” Without the proper education, the population may be more likely to accept the mass dumping of sewage into Lake Michigan, however, with improved education, the people themselves cna make a change in their world. Plato views this research from the university as something that needs to be tested from the ground up. From starting as a representation or an eikon, the development of the progression of determining if it has scholarly merit has began. “The soul, using as images the things that were imitated before, is forced to investigate from hypothesis proceeding not to a first principle but to a conclusion.” (510b).
Thus, there is a moral obligation for an expert to share such impactful knowledge to the affected members in the community. This accountability between researching and reporting falls under the philosophy of the Wisconsin idea, supported by Plato’s notion of the importance of a conclusion. The final part of the Wisconsin idea is that it exemplifies exercising technical skill in the workplace. “Providing basic healthcare to underserved communities through interprofessional service learning… MEDiC brings together students from health professions programs across campus to provide free, student-run clinics throughout the Madison area. Student volunteers put their knowledge and skills into practice for the betterment of the state, under the guidance of University of Wisconsin faculty.
” This solid excellence that is observed in giving aid and relief to members of the state who need it in the students’ and faculty members respective areas of expertise. A local example of this is the automotive department here at UWM. A family friend restores classic cars, and had a 1951 VW Beetle. It needed transmission repair and was brought into the automotive department at the University. This skillful repair done by the students was far better than any outside mechanic for the price charged.
This act of slashing prices to aid in the skillful development at the school serves as a solid way to backup the truth of how the Wisconsin Idea powerfully impacts the population. This virtuous act of selflessness is what Plato would describe as an act of courage, “namely, when it preserves through pains and pleasures the declarations of reasons about what it is to be feared and what isn’t” (442c). Through this aspect of the Wisconsin plan, the virtuous nature of those involved in the universities truly shine, their expertise possibly changing the lives of their patients who may be unable to otherwise seek medical attention, obtain courses of education, and much more that is provided through the system. To be able to fully understand why something like the Wisconsin Idea would be something Plato would be in support of is primarily due to the concept of furthering the benefits of an educated society. This lets members of the communities enjoy and enrich their own personal lives without higher education. The ideas of an advanced and educated society gets us to a more skillful way of thinking, where as the students attending the university can accurately introduce ideas to the general public as to induce a better way of thinking and achieving Areté.
To live skillfully according to Plato, is to progress towards the truer reality or the intelligible world that we make up. Having an opinion, or doxa, is what sensation would tell you. This is similar to the idea of having a hypothesis. You have not tested to find out if it is true yet, or even anything beyond what you developed. It makes its way “proceeding from a hypothesis but without the images used in the other subsection.” (510b). This misrepresentation of reality can lead you to wrong conclusions as well regarding your opinions. You can fall into the trap with this, because you don’t know true or false regarding it.
Opinions are largely formed from appearances, but a truly educated individual will be able to discern reality from fantasy. To obtain knowledge from the masses would be debilitating to the Wisconsinites, or the craftsman, which would in turn negatively impact the government, or leaders. For this reason, Plato would support the Wisconsin Idea as it maintains a well functioning system that benefits all involved in many immeasurable ways. Finally to go one step beyond that, if you want to get to the bottom of what the difference is between having an opinion or knowing something, to know something and to live skillful, your proof is demonstrated by causes.
It is the ultimate of higher knowledge. But for the most part, we are never going to do better than our belief or opinion. Another aspect to which Plato’s beliefs would indicate his agreement with the Wisconsin Idea lies within the Allegory of the Cave.
Our perceptions as human beings can easily be said to be largely taken from our own experiences. In sociology, we have discussed this even further. If what is presented in the media is only a slanted viewpoint of a much larger picture, than it’s a perspective that the government or talking heads want us to see. Our personal perspectives can be altered if we experience these events first hand, or know the whole truth behind the curtain of what is publicly known.
All of our experiences that have impacted our life is what shapes our own reality. Through freedom and liberation of education as laid out in the Wisconsin Plan, involvement throughout the state with citizens who may not be a part of the University system will become more privy to reality as well as their own conceptions of the world. Because the prisoners are inside the cave, and are only exposed to shadows essentially like some humans today, those same beliefs are what they would form the version of reality they see true. Without education, the world is nothing but an empty canvas. You cannot discredit that the view of the shadows to be wrong. It can be considered to be partially true, because it’s largely dependent on the content available to them. However, on the outside of the cave, the real cow is what can be seen with proven fact. This fuller viewpoint shows how characteristics of the shadows are true, the outline of the cow, but it is not the real cow.
An altered perception of what actually is. The fire and the sun are similar, because a true belief is something exposed to the sun that we can clearly see visible. The sun illuminates it for us. But, for the people in the cave the fire is essentially serving as the sun, illuminating shadows on the wall. The sun will be much more bright, but with the fire, it provides some details, like the structural shapes of the the things cast onto the wall. The media shows us events and details, along with ideas or facts presented in a fashion that because we are only exposed to those, we hold them to be self evident and it is used to influence us on what is real, and what is allegorical. We will always be at the stage of Eikon, if we cannot overcome this representation. Without a shared form of knowledge, everybody remains in the cave, limited by their own stubbornness to elevate the entity of the society.
On 518 b, “Education isn’t what some people declare it to be, namely, putting knowledge into souls that lack it, like putting sight into blind eyes.” The perspective of a blind person can only be seen as nothing, as the world through what is visible is darkness. But with educating these people who were blind to the truth of the shadows as representation can be instrumental in living skillfully. One can only see how the light behind the eyes can be life changing without experiencing it for themselves.
The true form of enlightenment is education, upon which would be immoral to obtain from the public if the knowledge is that which could positively impact the lives of many. Allowing an entire state of individuals to remain in the cave would be a disservice to not only the people, but the society as a whole. To come to the bottom of this, many individuals do reap benefits from the University system and public outreach. Plato would be in full support of this because, as we have clearly seen so far, many of the social developments as well as the education and environmental impacts aid the public with services and goods to better inrich the life of students, faculty, and those who reside in the state of Wisconsin. To hoard knowledge is a selfless act, both for the student and civilian.
For the scholar, they learn through experience – although knowledge from a book is worthwhile, dentistry cannot be mastered through detailed diagrams. The consumer will get a discounted price, while the student receives an excellent education to better service patients in the future. However, the civilian gains a great deal of benefit through the Wisconsin Idea: an unlimited source of knowledge that will positively impact their town and wellbeing. Education has no price – to place a monetary value and limitations upon the search for knowledge disservices all involved – the entire society. “Thats a long prelude for someone who wants to hear the answer” (432e).