Morris Raphael Cohen’s near century old A Slacker’s Apology still teaches. It begins,
Dear Friend: Your letter gently but unmistakably intimates that I am a slacker, a slacker in peace as well as in war; that when the World war was raging bitterly I dawdled my time with subjects like symbolic logic, and that now when the issues of reconstructing a bleeding world demand the efforts of all who care for the future of human race, I am shirking my responsibility and wasting my time with Plato and Cicero. Your sweetly veiled charge is true, but I do not feel ashamed of it.
We hold the benefits of civilization not in fee simple, to heirs forever, but by knights’ service. Much as we may leave to our successors we can never manage it so that they shall be entirely free from toil, pain and the agonies of death. Let us not, therefore, wilfully impoverish their life by throwing away any of the things which have served as consolations to so many since the ancient days—among which are the writings of the divine Plato and even of the altogether unheroic Cicero, who so tragically illustrates the failure of scholars in politics.