The word Pundit [Puṇḍita], a scholar, learned teacher, has its roots in the first Vedic texts. The English word ‘Professor’ derives from the medieval Latin Prō-fitērī: ‘To acknowledge, confess, avow a religious order’.
If you were educated as a member of the Learned Class, you were educated in the ways of the religious order that provided you the education. A Modern Liberal Education, wouldn’t you know, was originally conceived as culminating in this momentous achievement.
The beneficiary of a ‘Liberal Education’ in contrast to a technical one or a guild apprenticeship was ‘liberated’ [Latin Liber, ‘Free’] from common blinders and conventional prejudices. A Liberal Education completed and displayed the Finished Man [Liberalis evolved to mean ‘Noble’].
A good education [not to be confused with ‘higher’] gives you the confidence to look your assumptions and beliefs in the eye. It’s really not about knowing the difference between Fahrenheit and Centigrade or the geographic co-ordinates of Khartoum.
The idea is long in the trash, and the Finished Man is now a Gentleman who can properly tie a Windsor-knot. But that was not the beginning idea.
[I’d still rather share a Table with a Gentleman.]