Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance Essay

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance Essay

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When speaking of the University, common images that come to mind are the flashes of individual tests, individual essays and most importantly the individual diploma hanging on the wall. There is no notion of the community, and instead the learning process is focused on the individual’s obtainment of knowledge. In Robert Pirsig’s Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Pirsig epitomizes this common notion of a University through his character Phaedrus. Though Phaedrus embodies this idea of learning for oneself, he is unable to reach definite conclusions, grow his ideas nor continue to be a valuable member of society. On the other hand, John Henry Newman in The Idea of the University argues that the best type of learning is learning with others. Within this University that Newman speaks of, a professor’s job is to bestow the students with knowledge, let us say this is an undrinkable salt water. Though this water surrounds the students, it is the students job to make this water drinkable, or in the sake of knowledge, useful. No one can do this alone, instead they being drowning at the very thought of it. A community of learners, on the other hand, has the capability do so. By working together, each student can make their own drinkable water. They can then enliven themselves and each other with this water, or more importantly knowledge. Let me add that each student’s conversion of the water will be different, just like their process for obtaining knowledge. Not only this, but their final product will slightly different, maybe some will go as far to add ice or even lemon. What is important to emphasize, though, is the fact that their knowledge will enliven themselves and the community around them.
Conventional wisdom has it that th...


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...thers. My own view is an extension of Newman’s. I believe that Newman’s University is important because it gives context to who we are learning for, making our own knowledge meaningful. When a community is built, each individual no longer learns only for the betterment for themselves, but the betterment of everyone. Though my own time at a University has been short, I have already seen this in my own experience. Those who I am learning with push me to congruently learn more broadly and more deeply. I want to see them achieve greatness as much as I want to achieve my own. Although learning with others might seem like a small facet of a University, it has the greatest worth. It is the driving force to keep myself, and those around me learning, growing, achieving, prospering and most importantly it allows us to begin to understand how we can better the world around us.

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