Letter to the Editor: The dangerous implications

I am neither a student nor Grinnell Staff; instead I am a factory worker who recently read your “Two Views in the Liberal Arts.” I saw words such as “critical thinking” and “personal responsibility” and wondered what they meant to other readers. I was curious if it includes ethics and if ethics is discussed in all of your classes (not as a separate course). Or does it sound ridiculous to interrupt calculus with a discussion of the ethics of math (including whose definition of ethics)?

I am wondering: Is our ever increasing knowledge resulting in more ways to kill in higher numbers? Are there more people in the world than ever before suffering from inadequate food and water? If so, how could that be with all our knowledge? Is our increasing knowledge increasing or lessening pollution?

Is the United States truly a democracy if such a small percentage of the population votes? Are we rather a market-driven police state? Aren’t there laws regulating every activity of our existence? I heard that the US prison population is the highest of any country ever, including China and the former USSR. Is that true? What are our liberal arts contributing to that? Do we think that we can create an ideal peaceful world through laws and imprisonment? Do laws on drugs help our population? Do they limit the possibilities of investigating altered states of consciousness? Why does the US in particular seem so afraid of mood-altering drugs?

I wonder, has there been an evaluation to see if all our knowledge is resulting in improved conditions throughout the world? Is our market driven globalization depriving other cultures of their existence? Are liberal arts compatible with cultures which are focused more on the spirit or being in tune with the rhythms of the earth? Do our new technologies result in new ways to attempt to control/alter nature and subjugate its inhabitants in some beneficial way? Is our US focus on the materialistic aspects of life contributing to the degradation of life? Do we take advantage of our affluence and technology (particularly in weaponry) to control other cultures? What are we neglecting with all our affluence and liberal arts education? Do all my questions seem unrelated to each other?

Again, perhaps it seems ridiculous to have an ethics of math, but where is ethics discussed? I picked on math because I have heard over the years various people say that the laws of the universe and of existence can be explained through math. Is that true? Is there a spirit? Is it explained by math? Is math untouched by ethics? Is ethics discussion done only in a philosophy or religious studies class which not everybody will take? Are these questions discussed when you do a lab experiment or is it left for some other class to discuss?

Where is it appropriate to discuss ethics? Why not now? Why not in your very next class?