Valuing Useless Knowledge: An Anthropological Inquiry into the Meaning of Liberal Education, 2nd ed.

Robert Bates Graber


Robert Graber explores the historical, philosophical, and sociological origins and nature of liberal arts and sciences education and draws on anthropology to show us how much to value such useless knowledge.

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2nd Edition

With higher education coming under increasing scrutiny in today’s economic climate, is a liberal-arts education still a valuable investment? Robert Bates Graber explores the historical, philosophical, and sociological origins and nature of liberal education, and draws on anthropology to show why we do, and why we should, value education that appears impractical. The premise remains as in the original 1995 edition, but the argument is strengthened and the discussion expanded. Graced by a foreword from Truman President Troy Paino, this new edition is even more enlightening, more provocative, and—dare we say—more useful than the original!



Saint and Sinner
Mind and Matter
Hand and Brain
Reason and Evidence
The Sacred Cow




Robert Bates Graber grew up in northern Indiana. His bachelor’s degree is from Indiana University; his master’s and doctorate are from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Author of five books and many articles, he is professor emeritus of anthropology in residence at Truman State University. He lives with his wife, Rosanna, in Kirksville, Missouri, where he enjoys bicycling, backyard astronomy, and classical guitar.


[Valuing Useless Knowledge] will stimulate your thinking about the value of a “liberal” education, especially in today’s overheated environment where so many are talking about education strictly in terms of what the business world wants, and what might get you a job.

Learning Wisdom, September 2012

He argues that by valuing relatively useless knowledge for its own sake that humans are able to transcend selfish and short-sighted notions of practicality evolved under conditions of little or no technology, which threaten to destroy us in this age of advanced technology.

Research Book News, December 2012

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