What is Temperance?

"Nothing in excess."

Along with the phrase "Know thyself," these words were carved into the columns of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, where the famous Oracle presided as a symbol of wisdom in ancient Greece. They represent a fitting description of the virtue of temperance (Greek = sophrosyne), which Aristotle defines in the Nicomachean Ethics as having appetites "for the right things, in the right ways, at the right times." The temperate person's appetites are under the control of his reason.

Temperance is one of the "four cardinal virtues" along with prudence, justice, and fortitude. Similar to fortitude, temperance helps one conquer obstacles to doing what is prudent and just, i.e., what is good. Whereas fortitude helps one conquer fear of bodily harm, the virtue of temperance helps one conquer attachments to bodily pleasure. In particular, Aristotle held that temperance deals with those pleasures that result from the senses of touch and taste.

Of the four virtues, temperance is the one most focused on self, though it is a focus on self for the sake of being more just toward others. When we're consumed with our bodily needs, we're less able to "give each his due," which is the definition of justice.

The temperate person is one who consistently exercises the "mean"—the right path between opposite extremes.

On one side of temperance are the extremes of gluttony and lust. Aristotle defines gluttony as "eating indiscriminately or drinking until we are too full." In all animals, appetite for food and drink exists so that humans will fulfill a lack they need to survive. The enjoyment that comes from doing this—except, of course, when it's really bad food—is a nice encouragement to get us to eat and drink.

Going beyond satisfying that need by overeating or overindulging in drink gets into the territory of gluttony. When we overeat, we're not using food in a way that is in harmony with reason, i.e., eating only enough to nourish ourselves and satisfy our hunger. And, since reason is the main characteristic that separates man from the beasts, our failure to use reason in regard to food makes us more like the beasts (except, even they know when to stop eating).  

Interestingly, some have also seen "picky eating" as a form of gluttony. After all, like someone who overeats, a picky eater does not use food and drink in the way he is supposed to. A temperate person is able to eat the food that is put in front of him (allowing for exceptions), and be thankful for it, because it satisfies his hunger and enables him to pursue other activities. An intemperate person, however, has such a particular palate that he will only eat a limited number of foods of a certain type or quality.  

Alcohol is most famously associated with overindulgence in drink, so much so that the 18th and 19th century movements to discourage excessive alcohol consumption were called "temperance movements." A number of these movements turned into calls for complete abstention from alcohol and forbiddance of it by law. But, while some traditions may consider it virtuous to avoid alcohol altogether, such avoidance is not really temperance. Temperance is about moderation of certain desires at certain times; not necessarily about fleeing certain desires at all times. Also, because a virtuous character is developed through free choices, making a substance illegal to some extent takes away the ability to develop the virtue of temperance—something Mayor Bloomberg in NYC may want to consider.

The other extreme of lust consists of engaging in sexual behavior (in thought or action) outside of the proper context of such behavior. Sexual behavior and the pleasure that results from it is a good, but only when engaged in "in the right ways, at the right times," which for much of Western tradition, has been within the context of marriage.

In Western society today, we're much more comfortable with defining the boundaries of proper eating and drinking than we are with defining the boundaries of proper sexual behavior. The "Sexual Revolution" of the 1960s was proclaimed as a triumph of human freedom that unshackled men and women from the chains of past sexual mores, and widened the contexts in which sexual behavior was considered acceptable. If one subscribes to Aristotle's understanding of temperance, however, the Sexual Revolution might have in fact caused people to become more enslaved to their sexual appetites. Many today suffer from addictions to sex or pornography, or suffer from the consequences of engaging in sex outside of marriage. Consider, for instance, the number of children who are brought up in single-parent families, or the number of relationships that have been broken up by adultery.

Obviously, food, drink, and sex are not the only things one can be intemperate with. Some may have addictions to TV or video games, engaging in these activities for hours on end while they should be doing other things. A lot of us are also guilty of being intemperate with our smart phones. How many of us repeatedly check our email, Facebook, or Twitter accounts when we should be focusing our attention on work or conversation? While reading is usually considered more commendable than watching TV, one can also be intemperate with books. Perhaps you are someone who frequently gets so engrossed in a book that you can't put it down and irresponsibly ignore other duties.

While those who overindulge in bodily pleasures represent one pole of the violation of temperance, those who do not care for bodily pleasures represent the other pole. Aristotle, however, doesn't spend much time talking about these people, simply because "People who are deficient in pleasures and enjoy them less than is right are not found very much." They also wouldn't be very much fun to hang out with.

It is important to remember that virtues and vices are behaviors that have become more set in stone. So, one who is temperate consistently and happily exercises control over his bodily desires, and one who is intemperate consistently and stubbornly fails to exercise such control.

Aristotle had different words to describe those who exercise self-control, but only with much struggle, and those who occasionally slip up: "continent" and "incontinent."

For instance, in George Orwell's novel 1984, young Winston swipes a bar of chocolate from the clutches of his starving mother and sister. One wouldn't label him "intemperate"; rather, he simply had a moment of incontinence. Or, perhaps you binged on watching season 4 of Arrested Development when it came out, or maybe you picked up The Hunger Games and let the housecleaning slide for a couple of days while you read all 3 books. Such actions don't necessarily mean that you're intemperate; they may just mean that you're incontinent.

This topic provides a variety of quotes, articles, and other resources that discuss the meaning of temperance and its continued importance for today's culture.

Show More

More About This Topic...

Click thumbnails below to view links

Quote Page

Commentary or Blog Post

An quick course overview on the meaning of justice as described in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.

"Continence is not virtue, and incontinence is not vice. But they are related (they belong to the same 'genus')."

A study guide and overview of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics.

"Since taking office in 2002, Bloomberg has unleashed a tsunami of public health initiatives ... cutting sodium in prepared meals, ordering that menus in chain restaurants carry calorie counts, posting restaurants' health department grades, as well as limiting the use of tobacco products.

His first acts included a ban on smoking in restaurants and workplaces. In 2011, the restriction...

This article tackles self-restraint from a social scientific angle, chronicling a childhood behavioral experiment and its implications.

"In contrast to the works of the flesh described by Paul in Galatians 5:19-21, the fruit of the spirit in verses 22-23 stands out as character traits all Christians must have. It is these things that Paul said, 'against such there is no law.' In other words, there is nothing to condemn such a one who practices the virtues mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Contrasted here, are the works of verses...

"Sex is permissible only within the context of a marriage. In Judaism, sex is not merely a way of experiencing physical pleasure. It is an act of immense significance, which requires commitment and responsibility. The requirement of marriage before sex ensures that sense of commitment and responsibility. Jewish law also forbids sexual contact short of intercourse outside of the context of...

This blog post discusses the Biblical context of temperance, in contrast to the vice of envy.

"As the feminist movement evolved in the late 1960s, women started challenging their exclusion from politics and the workplace. They also began to question traditional sexual roles."

This psychology article argues for a difficult but necessary return to self-control in the interest of our futures and those of our children.

"By 1830, the average American over 15 years old consumed nearly seven gallons of pure alcohol a year – three times as much as we drink today – and alcohol abuse (primarily by men) was wreaking havoc on the lives of many, particularly in an age when women had few legal rights and were utterly dependent on their husbands for sustenance and support."

The author laments the absence of temperance in young girls.

This blog post discusses different translations of temperance and occurrences in the Bible.

"As discussed in our last reflection, temperance is the virtue that moderates our desire for pleasure – especially the pleasure attached to food, drink, and sex. Temperance also moderates the sorrow and frustration we might experience when we have to go without those pleasures and our appetites are left unsatisfied.

Without temperance, we tend to become grumpy, angry, or short with...

This blog post discusses temperance in response to The Progressive Policy Institute’s call for a government shaming of childbirth out of wedlock. This leads to a wider discussion of the role temperance ought to play in society.

This article explains America's three "temperance" movements, each of which featured a health-conscious push for the elimination of alcohol and other drugs.

"Temperance is perhaps the least understood, and most hidden, of the virtues in our day. We're apparently too worldly and sophisticated for temperance!

"The oracle at Delphi is a figure of great historical importance that was, and still is, shrouded in mystery. She spoke for the god Apollo and answered questions for the Greeks and foreign inquirers about colonization, religion, and power. By her statements Delphi was made a wealthy and powerful city-state."

"Hardly anyone talks of the table of virtues and vices anymore — which includes the Seven Deadly Sins — but in reviewing them, we find that they nicely sum up the foundation of bourgeois ethics, and provide a solid moral critique of the modern state."

"What is it about self-control that makes it so difficult to rely on? Self-control is a skill we all possess (honest); yet we tend to give ourselves little credit for it. Self-control is so fleeting for most that when Martin Seligman and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania surveyed two million people and asked them to rank order their strengths in 24 different skills, self-control...

This social scientific study tracks the health and behavioral implications of poor self-control in children as they grow into adults. The results indicate that poor self-control leads to a host of problems including substance abuse, lower socioeconomic status, and below average physical health.

This blog post discusses temperance specifically in the modern understanding, highlighting the examples of Benjamin Franklin and Robert E. Lee.

This brief blog post explores ancient thought of sophrosune, highlighting the contributions of Neo-Platonist philosopher Proclus.

Chart or Graph

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle dissects the arenas in which man acts and explores the vices (either a deficiency or an excess) and virtues of each normal human action or feeling (i.e. "Fear and Confidence," "Pleasure and Pain," etc.). This chart presents Aristotle's conclusions in a compact manner.

"Children under age 18 who live with their own single parent either in a family or subfamily."

Based upon a scientific study, this graph tracks the long-term consequences fostered by poor self-control.

A drawing of a tombstone referencing the temperance/Prohibition movement.

Analysis Report White Paper

For Aristotle, practical wisdom and the virtues of character—courage, temperance, liberality, and the rest—are intimately bound up with one another. Virtue of character, he says, consists 'in a mean state…that is defined by principle (logos), that is, by the principle by which the practically wise person would define it'

Standard interpretations of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics usually maintain that Aristotle (384-322 BCE.) emphasizes the role of habit in conduct. It is commonly thought that virtues, according to Aristotle, are habits and that the good life is a life of mindless routine.

Few studies have examined the effects of over-controlling parenting, or 'helicopter parenting,' in college students. Some studies have found that college students of over-controlling parents report feeling less satisfied with family life and have lower levels of psychological well-being.

Aristotle argues that temperance is the mean concerned with pleasure and pain. Most commentators focus on the moderation of pleasures and hardly discuss how this virtue relates to pain. I consider the place of pain in Aristotle’s discussion of temperance and resolve contradictory interpretations by turning to the following question: is temperance ever properly painful?

The aim of this essay is not to compare Hume and Kant on all matters ethical. Instead, we examine several key areas of ethics in which we can reasonably see Kant as responding to or influenced by Hume, or in which comparisons between their theories are particularly interesting.

Peter Geach is reported to have said that temperance is far from being an interesting subject, but 'rather a humdrum common sense matter'. I hope to show that his opinion proves that he did not know the early history of the concept, nor what Nietzsche did on it. My subject will therefore be 'temperance', or sophrosyne, or in Nietzsche's language: measure.

The present study does not intend to give a solution to all the problems mentioned above. It is concerned with one of the central aporetic early dialogues, the Charmides, which deals with the definition of the meaning of [sophrosune], one of the Platonic cardinal virtues.

I will argue in this thesis for a prominent position of sophrosyne in the Platonic dialogues commonly considered early and middle, with the Charmides as a point of departure and as the spine in the main body of the study and with the Republic as the main contender.

This article examines the treatment of sophrosyne in the Platonic dialogues (the Charmides in particular) as well as the historical background for Socrates' analysis on the subject.

In what follows I will first say a bit more about what temperance is, starting with Aristotle. Then I will discuss the psychology of temperance by ruminating about how it is possible for a physical or 'animal' appetite to become rational, and say a little about how a person becomes temperate.

"'Temperance,' we are solemnly instructed, 'is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion.'

"In The Four Cardinal Virtues, Josef Pieper delivers a stimulating quartet of essays on the four cardinal virtues. He demonstrates the unsound overvaluation of moderation that has made contemporary morality a hollow convention and points out the true significance of the Christian virtues."

But sophrosyne is the most multifaceted of all the Greek virtues, and some of its aspects belong exclusively to men. What is the sophrosyne of women? When did it emerge as their proper characteristic? And what does it tell us about the way women were regarded in antiquity? It is the purpose of this paper to suggest answers to these questions.

In this paper I explore the meaning of the Greek word ‘sophrosune’. I rely on Plato’s early dialogue Charmides to establish its meaning. I then explore how our understanding of ‘sophrosune’ helps illuminate the meaning of certain New Testament texts in which it is used. Finally, I discuss the relationship between ‘sophrosune’, sanctification, and self-hatred.

"'The Sophrosune Problem' attempts to define the meaning of sophrosune as it was understood by the ancient Greeks using the philosophical texts of Plato, Homer’s Iliad, and Thucydides’ the Peloponnesian War. Although the ancient Athenians were preoccupied with the notion of sophrosune, very few of the historical figures measure up to the ideal."

Video/Podcast/Media

"In this lecture/discussion video from my Spring 2012 Ethics class at Marist College, we examine Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics book 7, exploring the distinctions and connections he makes between virtue, vice, self-control and lack of self-control, brutality and super-human virtue. We discuss in particular the forms lack of self-control and brutality take, and how they differ from vice."

"The Puritan's work ethic may be hard to find in the US, but it helped create this country. CNN's Farheed Zakaria reports."

"Chuck admitted it, if he'd been old enough he would have been a prohibitionist, but not for the reason you think. For society to flourish, we need people who can say no to 'wrong action.'"

Primary Document

Early in his political career, Abraham Lincoln addressed members of the Springfield Washington Temperance Society with praise of the early prohibition movement and suggestions of future tactics. In this speech, Lincoln primarily uses "temperance" to refer to abstinence from alcohol.

"Adam Smith developed a comprehensive and somewhat unusual version of moral sentimentalism in his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759, TMS). He did not expressly lay out a political philosophy in similar detail, but a distinctive set of views on politics can be extrapolated from elements of both TMS and his Wealth of Nations (1776, WN); student notes from his lectures on jurisprudence (1762–1763...

In this work, David Hume puts forth his theory of the origin, development and utility of human morality. His method is to apply "an inviolable maxim in philosophy, that where any particular cause is sufficient for an effect, we ought to rest satisfied with it, and ought not to multiply causes without necessity." With respect to morals then, he claims that "in the course of nature that though...

As one of the four Cardinal Virtues, the Catholic Church and the early Church Fathers spent several centuries studying the concept of temperance. This encyclopedia entry discusses temperance and relates it to other virtues and vices in accordance with Catholicism.

In one of Plato's early dialogues, Socrates attempts a dialectic on the meaning of the Greek word "sôphrosunê," which we translate as "temperance." Socrates is joined in this discussion by Charmides—Plato's uncle—and Critias in his first of several appearances in Plato's dialogues. Like most of Plato's early dialogues, the conversation consists of Socrates' conversational partner suggesting...

Tocqueville's famous analysis of the American economic and political system, as he observed during his travels of the country in the 1830s.

"Gorgias is an important Socratic Dialogue in which Plato sets the rhetorician, whose specialty is persuasion, in opposition to the philosopher, whose specialty is dissuasion, or refutation. The art of persuasion was necessary for political and legal advantage in classical Athens, and rhetoricians promoted themselves as teachers of this fundamental skill. Some, like Gorgias, were foreigners...

"The work of which we now give an account, though complete in itself, brings down the history of Greek philosophy only to Plato and his generation; but a continuation is promised, embracing at least the generation of Aristotle; which, by the analogy of the concluding chapters of the present work, may be construed as implying an estimate of the Stoics and Epicureans."

A representation from the Committee of the County of Augusta was presented to the Convention, setting forth the present unhappy situation of the country....

"Marcus Fabius Quintilianus was born at Calagurris, now called Calahorra, a town of Spain on the Ebro. The time of his birth is uncertain, but as he was, while still young, a hearer of Domitius Afer at Rome, who died A.D. 59, we may reasonably suppose him to have been born about A.D. 40. …

After spending twenty years in the forum and in his school, he seems to have retired, partially or...

Founding Father James Wilson reflects upon the American government and people as occasioned by the Fourth of July while the Constitution is still being considered for ratification. In his address, Wilson discusses features of American society and compares the new civilization to the examples of ancient Greece and Rome.

Marcus Aurelius argues for a government of service and duty, arguing "that one can reduce oneself very close to the station of a private citizen and not thereby lose any dignity or vigor in the conduct of a ruler's responsibility for the common good."

"In my education, as in that of every one, the moral influences, which are so much more important than all others, are also the most complicated, and the most difficult to specify with any approach to completeness. Without attempting the hopeless task of detailing the circumstances by which, in this respect, my early character may have been shaped, I shall confine myself to a few leading...

The first of Sophocles' three Thebian Plays, Oedipus Tyrannus (alternatively translated as Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King but not to be confused with the sequel Oedipus in Colonus) has stood since its creation as an exemplar toward which all tragedies aspire. In this edition, the translator's notes and preface discusses sophrosyne extensively, alternatively...

"It is laid down at the outset that the customs of the holy life of the Church should be referred to the chief good of man, that is, God. We must seek after God with supreme affection; and this doctrine is supported in the Catholic Church by the authority of both Testaments. The four virtues get their names from different forms of this love. Then follow the duties of love to our neighbor."

In his final philosophical work, Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great Roman statesman and admirer of Greek culture, writes to his son of Roman virtues and responsibilities during the chaos following the assassination of Julius Caesar. Amongst the wisdom that Cicero calls his son to recognize and embody, the orator discusses the cardinal virtues.

St. Augustine reflects that marriage for the purpose of procreation is a gift of nature, while marriage merely for the purpose of satisfying lust is not.

His work profoundly influenced the Catholic canon and Church attitudes toward marriage.

"Though almost forgotten today, Herbert Spencer ranks as one of the foremost individualist philosophers. His influence in the latter half of the nineteenth century was immense. Spencer’s name is usually linked with Darwin’s, for it was he who penned the phrase, 'survival of the fittest.' Today in America he is most often admired for his trenchant essays in The Man Versus the State....

This portion of the Summa Theologica contains the "Treatise on Prudence and Justice."

"Although these pieces may appear fully to express their own real intrinsic value, as bearing the image and inscription of that great man Mr. Hobbes; yet since common usage has rendered a preface to a book as necessary as a porch to a church, and that in all things some ceremonies cannot be avoided, mode and custom in this point is dutifully to be obeyed.

That they are genuine, credible...

"In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche expounds on the origins of Greek tragedy and its relevance to the German culture of its time. He declares it to be the expression of a culture which has achieved a delicate but powerful balance between Dionysian insight into the chaos and suffering which underlies all existence and the discipline and clarity of rational Apollonian form. In order to...

John Stuart Mill discusses temperance at numerous points throughout his works. He credits this as his father's primary virtue in his autobiography (found in Volume I of his Collected Works). In a book review in this chapter, he most clearly offers a meaning for the term in the context of his commentary on Plato.

Dante Alighieri's infamous poem, The Divine Comedy, tells the story of the author's own salvation by journeying to the bottom of Hell, up the mountain of Purgatory, and finally through the heavens in Paradise. Along the way, Dante meets famous figures from history and literature who tell him of their own sins and virtues in life as well as the corresponding judgments of these.
...

"The Oeconomicus is unique in Greek literature in combining a discussion of the proper management of a family or household and didactic material on agriculture within a Socratic dialogue. One of the richest primary sources for the social, economic, and intellectual history of classical Athens, it has been largely neglected despite the current widespread interest in the subjects discussed." -...

"I. BY that which is self-caused, I mean that of which the essence involves existence, or that of which the nature is only conceivable as existent.

II. A thing is called finite after its kind, when it can be limited by another thing of the same nature; for instance, a body is called finite because we always conceive another greater body. So, also, a thought is limited...

Reformation theologian John Calvin launched the Calvinism denomination with this gigantic work.

The Laws, Plato's last and longest dialogue, is written as a conversation between three old men from different Greek cities.

"THE special value of the writings of Kant is so fully acknowledged, that there is no need to insist upon it here. In the literature of Moral Philosophy there is certainly nothing more important than the contributions which Kant has made to Ethical Science. Even those who hold a Utilitarian theory of morals, must wish to see the works of the great upholder of Intuitionalism placed within the...

In one of the most influential and enduring works in Western philosophy and ethics in particular, Aristotle defends the concept of eudaimonia (happiness or flourishing as befitting the nature of the subject) and explains the implications of this position.

Specifically, he discusses the concept of temperance in...

"Compiled in the 3rd century AD by his student Porphyry, 'The Enneads' unfolds Plotinus' study of the principles of the universe. This work is organized into 54 treatises, which are in turn more largely grouped into six books, which form the foundational concepts of Neo-Platonism. The first Ennead deals principally with ethical topics and human subjects, such as happiness, virtue, beauty, and...

As the title suggests, this book draws from the Bible's discussions of drinking to present the case against alchohol. This ebook is available in full as a free download through the linked website.

"Smith expresses his general system of morals, exploring the propriety of action, reward and punishment, sense of duty, and the effect of numerous factors on moral sentiment.

In so doing, Smith devised innovative theories on virtues, conscience, and moral judgment that are still relevant and accessible today. Though somewhat surprising to find a philosopher of Smith's abilities...

"It was about this time that I conceiv’d the bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any Fault at any time; I would conquer all that either Natural Inclination, Custom, or Company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I...

"The writer says that his object is to impress upon those whom he has ordained the lessons which he had previously taught them. Like Cicero, he treats of that which is right, becoming, or honourable [decorum], and what is expedient [utile]; but with reference not to this life but to that which is to come, teaching in the first book that which is becoming or honourable; in the second, what is...

Books

Link

Engage

Click thumbnails below to view links

Online

Become a fan of Intellectual Takeout on Facebook!
Share Intellectual Takeout with friends, family, and colleagues on Facebook and Twitter!
Education history in America is important to know. ITO traces how education has changed from the colonial period to present day America.
At Intellectual Takeout, we think it's about time freedom went viral. Before our generation is the opportunity to embrace freedom, to unleash each individual's potential, and to have a prosperous future. And yet it seems that almost everyone running our cities, states, and federal government is intent on destroying freedom and burying us in debt to pay for it. If you, like us, believe that...
In the genre of documentaries revealing the problems with public education, "Kids Aren't Cars" focuses on helping us understand how schools are modeled after a factory system and what we need to do to change them. Understandably, treating kids as if they are a product to be manufactured has had detrimental effects on children going through the system and the overall level of education in America...
"Many parents and taxpayers feel helpless because the problems can seem so monumental. 'Kids Aren't Cars' director Kyle Olson reviews what he learned in the filmmaking process and the small things individuals can do that will add up to make a big difference." Here's Kyle being interviewed on a few things you can do and share with friends, family, and educators: Part 1Part 2
We all know Facebook is awesome for keeping up with friends, sharing about your life, and even distributing ideas. One great new way to get people thinking is to take advantage of the new banner profile with the help of Intellectual Takeout. Here's what one of our banners looks like loaded up on a Facebook profile: If you haven't changed your banner profile, than Facebook is likely ...
Tired of business getting a bum rap? We are, too. Here's your chance to share on Facebook the good news that business is good, beautiful, and makes life better.
While many documentaries on the education system focus on various examples of failure, "Flunked" takes a bit different tack. While certainly acknowledging and exposing the failures of the system, "Flunked" also seeks out individuals and approaches that ARE working in education. The hope is that these points of hope may serve as examples for others working in education.  Here's the trailer:...
Okay, so your friends and family keep telling you to jump on the social media bandwagon, but you have no idea what the fuzz is about. Here’s the deal: The Internet gives liberty-loving folk like us an opportunity we have never had before: to make the case for individual liberty, limited government and free market economics instantly and globally. But with the vast amounts of information...

Offline

Looking for an internship? If so, Intellectual Takeout has an opportunity for you. We have plenty of work to do as well as ideas to spread, and we need your help to get it done. If you're interested in an internship with Intellectual Takeout, you likely share our passion and you're excited about the possibility of working for a great cause. That said, you might have a few questions about what "...
The Association of American Educators (AAE) advances the teaching profession through personal growth, professional development, teacher advocacy and protection, as well as promoting excellence in education so that our members receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve.
Are you concerned your child isn't getting the education necessary to compete in the global economy or even, perhaps, to carry on the lessons and learning of Western Civilization? If so, you have a number of choices. You could, of course, consider changing schools to a charter school, private school, or even homeschooling. If that's overwhelming for you right now, you can always supplement your...
Curiously, not a few individuals are realizing that their education (K-12 and even college) neglected to provide them with as much understanding of the world as they would like. At Intellectual Takeout, we believe that however you feel about your education, there is still much to be learned. To that end, we'd like to refer you to one book and a collection of "study guides" that serve as...
Sure, the idea of homeschooling is likely overwhelming. Indeed, homeschooling is a big commitment and a lot of work. That said, there's a reason why more and more parents are turning to homeschooling as the best option for their child(ren)'s education(s). Perhaps you are starting to realize that the public school system has changed a lot since you last attended it. Maybe you can't afford private...
Know your rights with Flex Your Rights guide to the "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."
In a highly regulated society such as ours, it's very easy to get yourself in trouble with the law. Learn more about how to protect yourself with the 5th Amendment and how to interact with the police.
Let's face it, most of us love to watch TV and movies. A wonderful way to spread ideas is to embrace our love of the cinema by hosting a movie night with friends and family.  There are numerous documentaries that do a fantastic job of sharing the ideas of liberty. You can pull a small group of friends together at your house or even consider asking a local restaurant or tavern to let you...
Watch "Waiting for Superman" to learn about the problems with the public education system.
Another movie that tells the story of the failing public school model in the United States is “The Lottery”. It takes its own unique look at the systems by focusing on the use of lotteries to choose which children will be plucked from failing public schools and put into more successful public charter schools. Here’s the trailer:  You can watch the whole movie right now with the help of Hulu...
While there are a variety of really good documentaries about the failing public school systems in America, "The Cartel" stands alone in its frontal assault on the teacher unions, particularly those in New Jersey. If you'd like to get an inside look into how some teacher unions operate and the effects they have on education, you'll want to watch "The Cartel."From the movie's website: "This movie...
How often do you hear conservatives being called a bunch of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals? Here's the reality: Conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism have a rich, intellectual heritage reaching back many millennia. Our ideas are not just some historical relics from bygone eras; they are the very foundation of Western Civilization in general, amd the United States in particular....
Sadly (or happily for some), life goes on after college. So does the fight for freedom. Building friendships, networking, and growing the movement is critical after college. If our ideas are to be preserved and promoted, you need to stay involved. Plus, in a time when the individual seems to be ever more isolated and adrift, these groups can help plug you into social networks you can use....
Okay, so we don't expect you to drive a wooden stake into your flat screen. Plus, we're total hypocrites since we watch some TV. But here's the point: People waste a ton of time watching TV. If you're cool with government taking over your future, than keep watching Dancing with the Stars. If you consider yourself to be a free man or woman and want to live in a free society, then watch what you...
A great way to make a difference on your campus by spreading the ideas of individual rights, limited government, and free markets is to tutor. Plus, you can occasionally make a little bit of money. Depending on the subject matter, you will be discussing a variety of ideas, key thinkers, and theories. As anyone who has tutored knows, there are almost always opportunities to expand upon a topic....

On Campus

We've built Intellectual Takeout to provide you with quick, easy access to information. In time, we hope to become your one-stop-shop for the ideas of freedom. If your professor allows you to bring your laptop to class (if not, you can use an iPhone), we recommend keeping a tab open to Intellectual Takeout. As we continue to generate new content on the site, you will be able to fact check the...
When it comes to campus life injustices, student fees rank high on any list. On most campuses across the country a mandatory student fee is assessed to each student at the beginning of the year. A portion of this fee, which may be several hundred dollars, will go toward funding various political, religious, and interest groups.  A college requiring you to support groups espousing ideas which...
If you're not happy with the direction of the country and you want to take back your future, at some point you will have to do something. It's not enough to just know that we're going in the wrong direction. You actually have to step out and get involved. Most college campuses have conservative and libertarian student groups. Find one of them to join. Below is a list of some of the larger non-...
Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options. So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill. A good, education in a free...
Whatever activism you choose to do on campus, you need to get your story out. A popular tactic used by the Left is to isolate and intimidate freedom-loving students. You're not alone and there are a lot of people in your city, state, and country that can probably support your efforts. They just need to know what is happening. Whenever you can, record in-class bias, discrimination against...
The reality is that most students (and people for that matter) won't speak out. It's called human nature and it was recognized in the Declaration of Independence: "...all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." While you might feel alone when debating a teacher,...
In the land of the free and the home of the brave, speech codes are a particularly odious example of politically correct repression on many a college campus. In some ways, college campuses are the least free places for thinking and speech in America. Your best friend for fighting your school's repressive speech codes is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Here's a short clip...
Running for office isn't easy, even in college. Not everyone is cut out for it, either. For those of you who are, this completely non-partisan section is for you. If you are inclined to pursue student government, we're not going to spend time on telling you how to get elected. A good place to go for ideas and training is CampusReform.org. Rather, we want to help you in office, as a believer in...