What is Ascola
Dr. Golan Moshe Lahat
Ascola is a term that indicates both a group of entities that share a similar worldview, as well as concepts in and of themselves. The source of the world Ascola can be found in Greek- scholḗ, and in Latin - Schola, and gave birth to the familiar English term - school. Not with respect to its physical-spatial meaning, but rather as a place for idea-sharing. For example - Stoicism, a school of thought that stood out, mainly during the Hellenistic period, and sought to find serenity within the knowledge that the natural world contains a “spirit” with a fixed set of rules than promises stability in times of crisis. Or, alternately, the Frankfurt School of Thought that was established by scholars, some Jews and Germans of the 20th Century, who examined the suitability of Marxist Socialism to the later era of Monopolistic Capitalism.
From both linguistic and philosophical perspectives, it is interesting to note that the direct translation of scholḗ means leisure. How exactly do practical schools and schools of thought connect to leisure? After all, for the most part, leisure is linked to the freedom to do as one wishes, while school is, for the most part, devoid of choice and is more practical, focused on the acquisition of professions that enable future earning.
That being said, this momentary embarrassment evidences the essence of Ascola, as a human activity that is separate from the coveted concepts of leisure and material pleasures, as well as from instrumental thought - as its raison d’etre is achieving knowledge in order to make a future living. Ascola is where the choice to learn for the sake of learning does not a promise for material pleasure (though it most certainly does lead to intellectual pleasure), or for the achievement of practical knowledge, one can use in life. Within it is a drive to work in a way that is not lazy or overly “enjoyable,” but is also not overly productive. A drive that, in its essence, is to engage in learning that is not judged for its potential to lead to financial gain. A search for justice that is not necessarily mathematically measurable. Gazing at beauty that is not necessarily popular, etc. in short - Ascola’s activities are meant to be a gathering of moments in which man experiences himself as a being capable of going beyond the fulfillment of mere survival and pleasure needs.
Our society, as part of the greater modern world, is surrounded by immediate sensory pleasure AND the possibility for productivity and efficiency. Youth, thanks to their age and the stage of life they are in, are especially exposed to this concept. Ascola, therefore, becomes an essential ingredient that is worth its weight in gold.
Dr. Golan Moshe Lahat is a lecturer at Tel Aviv University (Political Science Department) and the Academic Principal of the Future Scientists Center’s Idea Program.