What is Ascola
Ascola is a concept that indicates both a group of individuals who share a joint world-view, and a set of conceptual principles in itself. The word derives from the Greek σχολή (transliterated scholḗ) and the Latin (schola), from which it came to the English, in which we recognize it in the term “school,” not in the physical sense, but in the sense of an ideological fellowship. For example, we speak of the Stoic school of thought, prominent mainly in the Hellenistic era, which sought to find tranquility in the knowledge that the natural world encompasses a “spirit,” with a certain constancy, which ensures stability even in times of crisis. Alternatively, one may talk of the Frankfurt School, formed by 20th century German thinkers, some of them Jewish, who examined the extent and suitability of Marxist socialism to the late era of monopolistic capitalism.
From both a linguistic and a philosophical point of view, it is interesting to note that the exact literal translation of scholḗ is “leisure.” How is it that both conceptions of a school – an ideological approach and a physical entity – are actually tied in with leisure? After all, we usually connect leisure with the freedom to do as we wish, while school is often associated with studies, in which our level of choice is limited or nil, and whose principal purpose is, at best, practical, that is, the acquisition of a means to provide for one’s future livelihood.
Indeed, it is this momentary confusion that actually attests to the nature of ascola, as a human endeavor that is separate both from leisure devoted to amusement and material pleasure, and from instrumental thinking the sole purpose of which is to gain knowledge for the benefit of future earnings. Ascola, then, is the choice of learning for its own sake. There are no promises of material enjoyment (although there will almost certainly be intellectual enjoyment) or of obtaining practical knowledge; it is the aspiration for labor that is, on the one hand, not laziness or hedonism, while on the other hand is not a productive trade. It is an aspiration whose purpose is pure inquiry, not judged on the basis of any financial profit that it might achieve, a search for justice that is not necessarily measurable mathematically, a consideration of that which is beautiful, but not necessarily popular – in short, the activity of an ascola is supposed to be a collection of those moments in which man experiences himself as an entity capable of going beyond the satisfaction of the needs of pure survival or enjoyment.
Our society, as part of the totality of the modern world, is filled with demands both for immediate sensual satisfaction, and for productivity-efficiency and quantification. Young people are particularly exposed to this, due to their age and to where they are in their lives. The possibility of exposing them to a life of leisure (in the ascola sense) makes such an occupation an indispensable, and invaluable, commodity.