> I am a student at the University of Virginia and I am preparing to write an > essay for my application to live on the "lawn" next year. The lawn is > reserved for fourth year students that represent the ideals of the > University and hence the ideals of its founder. In writing my essay, I was > hoping to include a quote from one of Jeffersons writings. From the > (little) research that I have done on Jefferson, it seems like he was a > proponent of a balance of physical, mental and spiritual matters. I have > been searching for a quote from Jefferson that supports this idea or that > illustrates his view of what an ideal student should represent. > Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any relevant quotes. If you > could be of any help to me in this matter it would be greatly appreciated. Your inquiry brings to my attention something that I had not thought through previously, and I am not sure that I have a firm grasp on it even now. But it appears that Jefferson did not address himself to the question of "what an ideal student should represent." Neither did he speak of a "balance of physical, mental and spiritual matters." I think it is possible to interpret what he did say in that fashion, but I don't think he ever put it in just those terms. This is very interesting, actually. It is as if Jefferson's way of thinking was the mirror image of the kind of thinking that puts things in terms of what an ideal student should be. What he wrote to people like Peter Carr and Thomas Jefferson Smith was advice and admonitions that would make them "an ideal student," perhaps, but he seemed to express it as means to an end, rather than attempt to formulate the end or goal itself. Do you see what I am trying to say? He provided a prescription for becoming an "ideal student" without proposing theoretically what such a student might be. Similarly, if you were to condense his advice, you would find that it does indeed reduce down to a balance between the physical, mental and spiritual. But he never seems to express it in quite those abstract, idealistic terms. Rather, his mind, which was always immensely practical when dealing with political philosophy, always seemed to dwell on the real, as opposed to the idealized: on the means of practical achievement, rather than the formulation or description of that achievement. This means he was focused on actual everyday activities, rather than on the ultimate ends to which those activities might lead. Hence, I don't think you are going to find quotations that precisely fit what it is you are seeking. But if you will settle for things more "down to earth," I think you might find something. First, you might look through the page of quotations titled "Eduating the People, at: http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1350.htm You might also look at the following letters: to Thomas Jefferson Smith, Feb. 21, 1825 on pg. 1499, and the three letters to Peter Carr on pages 814, 900, and 1346, all found in the Library of America volume of Jefferson's writings, which is available in every library. But I think you will find that all of these materials serve as pointers, without ever attempting to describe any ultimate ideal goal being pointed to. This, to me, does not mean that Jefferson was less of a philosopher. Rather he was more, because he was concerned with reality, not with an intellectualized version of it.
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