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Philosophy And Education: From Elitism To Democracy

1966 words - 8 pages

Philosophy and Education: From Elitism to Democracy

ABSTRACT: From its first appearance in western culture, philosophy has been considered able to build up reality, to educate people, and to disclose truth. Plato proposed philosophers as governors in life-long pursuit of philosophical learning. Socrates was the ideal paradigm of an educating philosopher: he tried to wake up human minds so that they could be aware of themselves and of the world, criticizing tradition and prejudices in a logically consistent perspective. A critical and dialogic approach—not by mere chance defined as "Socratic"—to problems has been considered until now the most profitable method of teaching. Socrates is a pioneer in discussing the question of a philosophical (paideia), as he defined his method "maieutic." He was not an authoritarian teacher, but a sparring partner in the process of self-education. Moreover, he considered himself as the most learned and, at the same time, the wisest in Greece, just because he was conscious of his ignorance. Therefore, he understood for the first time in our cultural tradition that knowledge is an endless process rather than a product, within marked bounds.

From its first appearance in western culture, philosophy has been considered able to build up reality, to educate men and to disclose truth. Plato proposed philosophers as governors and a lifelong philosophical paideia; nevertheless, yet before him, philopophy and kalokagaqia were in a close relation, as Parmenides and Heraclitus show. Particularly Socrates is the ideal paradigm of an educating philosopher: he tried to wake up human minds, so that they could be aware of themselves and of the world, criticizing tradition and prejudices in a logically consistent perspective. A critical and dialogic approach—not by a mere chance defined "Socratic"—to problems has been considered until now the most profitable method of teaching. Socrates is a pioneer in discussing the question of a philosophical paideia, as he defined his method "maieutic." He was not an authoritarian teacher, but a spurring partner in the process of self-education. Moreover, he considered himself as the most learned and, at the same time, the wisest in Greece, just because he was conscious of his ignorance. Therefore, he understood, for the first time in our cultural tradition, that knowledge is an endless process rather than a product, within marked bounds. In conclusion,docta ignorantia has the following bases:

i) the disposition to investigate;

ii) the astonishment in front of the world and the unknown;

iii) the consciousness that knowledge is not only a whole of notions (though always open), but also and meanly a qualitative process of inter-relations and interactions between knowing subject and known object.

In the history of educational theories, these Socratic ideas have been persisting over the centuries, in spite of ideological differences of various thinkers. From this point of view,...

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