Ideally, school would be a place for the theoretical examination of the unchanging forms: a place of leisure. While the economist had no access to Plato’s ideas, and the political person tried to realize the immutable forms as something that could be processed, only the philosopher discerned the timeless truths. This arrangement changed in the modern era. Those who create no longer believe in the existence of eternal forms, but rather in their own ability to invent forms by means of their experimental practice. Faith in philosophical contemplation has been replaced by trust in phenomena that can be comprehended by the senses. The technocrat now stands at the pinnacle of society, and schooling now serves to develop models for dealing with the world even more efficiently. Theories have lost their celestial basis and are developed for and from specific applications: science’s empiricism has replaced the humanities’ intuition of essences; the physicist has displaced the metaphysician.
Why is this problematic? Because the theoretical models derived from phenomena purport to be objective. The design criteria are use-oriented and functional but no longer ethical or aesthetic; they are not directed toward human needs. In the school of the future, ethics and aesthetics must once again be implemented in economic and technological developments, and the fatal division of art, science, and technology must be overcome. Both teachers and students must be generalists, not specialists; they must analyze and synthesize information rather than imparting and absorbing it. In such a society, as envisioned by Vilém Flusser, machines would take the place of physical labor, computers would store information, and people would produce new information, not through intuition, but in dialogue with one another. This would be not a Platonic but a creative existence – a life spent in creative leisure.