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Write a customer review. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. I highly recommend this book as it is easy to read and understand. If your goal is to better understand the US "education system" then you have arrived at ground zero. One person found this helpful.

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Would you like to report poor quality or formatting in this book? Click here Would you like to report this content as inappropriate? Click here Do you believe that this item violates a copyright? There's a problem loading this menu right now. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. View or edit your browsing history. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Further, a great deal of evidence can be adduced to support the contention that this concern with meaning is not a recent phenomenon — that it did not first appear on the scene in the s but has always been a part of the tradition of philosophizing, at least as far as the Western world is concerned.

For example, if we have been given weapons by a friend when he was of sound mind, and he went mad and reclaimed them, it would surely be universally admitted that it would not be right to give them back. Any one who did so, and who was prepared to tell the whole truth to a man in that state, would not be just. Then this is not the definition of justice — speaking the truth and restoring what we have received. Readers must not, then, be surprised to find that we engage in a certain amount of analysis in this book, and that we spend some time trying to ferret 4 Introduction out meaning of one kind or another.

Now, for philosophic purposes meaning as verbal equivalence is an inadequate conception and it is necessary — particularly, as we shall see, as far as philosophy of education is concerned — to recognize other kinds of meaning and to recognize the possibility of one kind being mistaken for another. The matter is of sufficient importance to merit detailed treatment here and now.

It was Wittgenstein who drew attention to the connection between the meaning of words and their use and hence to the connection between different kinds of meaning and different uses of language. We need, then, to distinguish fact-stating language we shall refer to it as the descriptive use of language from the evaluative use of language. Further, we shall also need to say something about the emotive use of language, a use which is not unconnected with the evaluative use. Briefly, then, the descriptive use of language, or descriptive meaning for short, is concerned with supplying information about things in the world.

Simple classification resting ultimately upon awareness of similarities and dissimilarities between objects and properties plays a large part in this use of language. We can get a little clearer about the nature of descriptive meaning by comparing it with emotive meaning.

Introduction 5 Now let us complicate matters slightly. She is upset by his remark. This simple example brings out the fact that speakers and listeners are involved in discourse and hence that the same statement can be justifiably classified as evaluative as far as the speaker is concerned but as emotive as far as the listener is concerned. Hence the remark in the last paragraph to the effect that the emotive and evaluative uses of language are connected.

All sorts of interesting possibilities now arise. As we have seen, an evaluative statement speaker may have an emotive effect listener. Further, an emotive statement speaker may have no emotive effect listener but may simply be interpreted by the listener as an evaluation on the part of the speaker. Again, without feeling strongly for or against something, someone may want, for some reason or other, to make other people feel strongly against that something. Hence strongly charged emotive words are deliberately chosen in order to bring about the desired effect in the audience.

One final point here on the interrelations between descriptive, evaluative, and emotive meaning. If, as was suggested above, the evaluative use of language speaker betokens some concern with objectivity in the sense of saying what things are really like, then what is the difference between the evaluative and descriptive uses of language in that description must surely be concerned with saying what things are really like?

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Snow just is white. This is not really very surprising when we remember that much educational talk is shot through with considerations to do with value. As Max Black puts it: This book, simply because it is partly concerned with the analysis and critical appraisal of educational arguments, will give ample opportunity for the reader to treat his ability to distinguish the categories.

Meaning, then, is quite properly going to be part of our concern in the following chapters. Now, the connotations of this word are such that it is often assumed that philosophers are simply out to do a destructive job, that their main preoccupation consists in exposing to ridicule well-meaning people who are trying to put forward positive proposals for educational action.

In line with this view our criticism of other writers will be made, not simply for the sake of criticism, but with the hope of reaching positive conclusions of our own. And from the pedagogic angle we hope also that the text, containing an amalgam of critical comment and positive proposal, will serve the double purpose of engendering the critical spirit and providing the wherewithal upon which to exercise it. In the following chapters we have adopted the use of the first person singular rather than the first person plural.

But what is a skill?

What Education Is, Clip 1

Are intellectual abilities well termed as skills? London, Macmillan, p. Introduction 7 Further reading No attempt is made in the Introduction to say at length what philosophy of education is. On meaning, Charles L.


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All students would benefit from reading Chapter 9 on persuasive definitions. John Wilson, What Philosophy Can Do Basingstoke, Macmillan, provides a valuable contribution to the debate on the nature and purpose of philosophy. Robin Barrow and Geoffrey Milburn, A Critical Dictionary of Educational Concepts Brighton, Wheatsheaf, may prove useful in relation to a number of concepts not dealt with in detail in this book.

Here is an example of an actual policy decision: I hope that most people will agree that, in broad terms, this is an interesting contention — something manifestly worth arguing about, and, particularly if you happen to have children at school, something that you might feel pretty strongly about, one way or the other.

Ultimately, it is dealing with claims and counterclaims such as this with which philosophy of education is concerned. It starts a step earlier. It asks why there is a presumption that loving learning for its own sake is incompatible with learning subjects. It might also ask what scrapping homework is supposed to have to do with any of this.

Only by making sense of the argument, in particular understanding what some of the key words and phrases are supposed to mean, can we proceed to assess its merit or lack of it.

An Introduction to Philosophy of Education, 4th Edition

And that is what philosophy is concerned with: Philosophy is directly concerned with real live issues, but to learn to do the philosophical job we have to take it slowly. So I hope the reader will bear in mind that by the end of this book we should be in a better position to assess the coherence of this example and other similar arguments about education. But first we have to position ourselves. The sphere of education The sphere of education today is extensive and education is generally highly valued.

In most countries, in addition to a developed system of state schooling, there is a rapidly expanding system of higher education, including institutions focused on such diverse things as art, computing, cooking, fashion design, and business, and a constant call for further qualification and accreditation in a variety of practices and pursuits, such as the hospitality industry, paralegal and paramedical services, mechanics, psychological services, accountancy, and horticulture.

Alongside the state system a number of private education establishments at all levels, from primary to teacher training, has arisen. Self-education manuals and books are one of the more lucrative sides of publishing, and educational programs of one kind or another abound on television and the net. Governments, by and large, maintain or increase their spending on education regularly, and proclaim it to be one of their first priorities.

Similarly, world organizations and authorities ceaselessly emphasize education as crucial to poor or troubled areas throughout the world. A great deal of money, too, is pumped into educational research of one kind or another, in addition to the enormous basic investment in educational establishments of all kinds. Education, in short, is widely pervasive, takes a good slice of our resources, and is fairly indiscriminately valued.

It is very big business, although we seldom think of it in that way. If we have 10 Thinking about education different understandings of what education involves, are these various views all equally clear, and, if they are, are they all equally important or valuable? There is nothing necessarily wrong with our having some very general and vague idea of education, in the light of which we each have different particular educational ideals or focus on varying specific aspects of the educational enterprise. After all, we do something like that in the case of politics: The fact that fascism, Marxism, liberalism, and conservatism are all species of political theory, or the fact that there is a difference between politics as practiced by government and the politics of the local sports club, does not cause any particular problem.

Whatever the differences and similarities between politics and education, it is surely clear that in the case of the latter we do need to know what the word means. If we do not know what counts as being educated, how can we make judgements as to whether we are being more or less successful in our various attempts to educate people? If we are not clear what constitutes education, how can we assess whether a new course in health, a new programme on road safety, or a new college for aspiring comedians should be regarded as educational?

Debate about whether physical education deserves more curriculum time than mathematics or chemistry, or whether we can reasonably forego teaching grammar in English classes, cannot coherently take place in the absence of a clear idea of what is involved in a successful education. And how on earth can we design research into such things as the most effective methods of teaching or classroom organization, let alone evaluate the significance of our findings, except in the light of some notion of educational success?

Whether we ultimately agree on a definition of education is not the primary concern. We can get along, understanding one another and even making reasonable accommodation to one another, provided that each of us can make clear to others what we presume educating people involves. There is, though, a strong case for saying that the more successfully we clarify our individual ideas, the more likelihood that we will recognize similarity in our views.

But we must at least clarify our own idea or conception of education if we are going to do any further thinking about it. It is the primary, the crucial, question in educational thought; and if practice is going to be based on sound reasoning, then it follows that it is the fundamental question for any educationalist, whether he sees himself rather as a practicing teacher or as a theorist. For our purposes at the moment it is safe to regard these different phrases as interchangeable, along with some slightly more technical formulations such as: All of these different ways of speaking have this in common: How do we distinguish education from other related but distinct concepts such as training, indoctrination, or socialization?

To use my own preferred way of phrasing it: The funny thing is that raising and answering this question is the least common, and the least well carried out, aspect of all our thinking about education. Yet these same people, as likely as not, cannot begin to explain, let alone justify, the idea of educational success that they have in mind in making such judgements. They know, apparently, that this is more effective than that at achieving or contributing to a result, but they have no clear idea of what result they are talking about.

Nor is this simply a problem for the proverbial man in the street: My first premise, then, is that the first and one of the most important tasks for those who wish to understand and contribute to sound educational policy and practice is to analyse the concept of education; to give an account of the idea; to determine what precisely counts as being well-educated. So, before we attempt to analyse the concept formally see Chapter 3 , it may be useful to distinguish between education and some related concepts which, though distinct, may also be the concern of the educational system.

It is in this sense that we refer to the education system, implying no distinctions between various things that might be learnt or how they might be taught. The most telling aspect of this broad concept of the educational system is that it is value-free. By contrast the concept of education itself is evaluative; it is by definition a good thing; it is what is technically sometimes called a normative term. Why it is necessarily desirable and what makes it so, will be examined when we analyse the concept fully, but for the moment we need only note the distinction between the value-free concept of the educational system and the normative concept of education itself.

Schools and other educational institutions have many purposes and do a number of things besides educate. Similarly, at least in most systems, they play a part in categorizing and stereotyping individuals: More broadly, schools clearly contribute to classifying people as clever, dumb, hard working, lazy, etc.

The educational system also makes a significant contribution to the immediate and often the long-term happiness, confidence, and character development of people. Many would argue that schools should be taking some active steps in regard to the emotional development of students, though it is usually the case that schooling has a far greater effect Thinking about education 13 in this respect in ways that are not consciously controlled by educators than through deliberate interventions; but in either case, the business of emotional development needs to be distinguished from the business of educating.

But there are also purposes that we consciously expect the school or similar institution to serve and deliberately try to enhance. Emotional development may be one of these, as we have just noted; socialization, training, and character development are three more.

Character development differs from emotional development, in that the latter is concerned with achieving a satisfactory emotional equilibrium: One is emotionally developed, for example, insofar as one recognizes cause for but can nonetheless handle upset; one is emotionally undeveloped, if one is laid low by any disappointment or sent into a rage by the slightest obstruction.

Character development refers to the cultivation of a wider range of habits and dispositions, such as being kind, truthful, or determined. I am not at present trying to analyse these concepts or give a full account of what is involved in these notions. If I were, I could and should be criticized both for doing no more than giving examples, and for failing to address questions of value.

About The Philosophy of Education: An Introduction

You cannot define a term simply by giving an example of it: By the same token, any attempt to answer that question will have to tackle the implicit value question: It may well be. My point here is simply to illustrate that to define a term or analyse a concept, you need to do more than give examples, you need to explain why they are examples and, if values are involved, you need to support the implied value judgements with reasoning. So, all I am doing at this juncture is drawing attention to some functions the school and similar institutions may perform, which can be distinguished from education and each other, without attempting to fully understand them.

To train is to perfect by practice, the most straightforward example being physical training, whereby the body is kept fit and develops various basic skills through repeated exercise. Indeed the change of name in educational writing from physical training PT to physical education PE in the last 14 Thinking about education fifty years illustrates an aspect of the point. Be that as it may, some of what goes on in schools, particularly at the more junior levels, should more properly be seen as physical training than physical education. Schools train students in a variety of basic skills, particularly at the elementary level.

In teaching the young to tie their shoelaces, do press-ups, form letters, recognize numbers, raise their hand to ask a question, and in other cases where we attempt to inculcate a discrete or self-contained skill without necessarily involving explanation or understanding, we may be said to be training them. Training can be more or less complex and relate to more or less important skills, and the line between educating and training is not always straightforwardly clear in practice: There is an important general lesson here: In the same way, while it may be difficult to classify some human abilities as being clearly the product of training or education, there is nonetheless a clear distinction to be made between perfecting particular self-contained practices by repeated exercise, and grasping or understanding patterns of reasoning.

The former constitutes training, the latter provides us with an initial statement of what education involves.

Introduction: Philosophy of Education and Philosophy

Socialization might be said to be a species of training, but relating specifically to acceptable social behaviour. No doubt a large part of who we are, judged in terms of how we behave, what we expect of ourselves and others, even what we think is right and wrong or true and false, is the product of socialization. Most people are socialized into the habit of being co-operative or polite long before they cultivate any views or arguments relating to the question of whether they should be or whether there is good reason to be.

Once again, the basic distinction is between acquisition of attitudes and beliefs through the example and influence of the environment, and the acquisition of some degree of understanding relating to our assumptions, which characterizes education. I am not suggesting that because some functions of school, such as childcare, training, and socialization, are distinct from education that they are unimportant. The value of some of them, such as categorization or stereotyping of individuals, might be debated, but training and socialization seem in themselves to be desirable, even necessary and unavoidable, aspects of upbringing.

Of course, one might take exception to features of a particular culture into which people are socialized. But to object to socializing people into the ways of the Nazi state, for example, or to training people to torture, is to object to Nazis and torture rather than to socialization and training. There are other possible functions of the school, such as conditioning, indoctrinating, and closing the mind, which are inherently objectionable and antithetical to education, as we shall see Chapter 6.

But training and socialization seem proper and desirable functions of schooling. However, I want to suggest from the outset that the provision of education needs both to be distinguished from these other functions and to be recognized as the most important purpose of schooling.

A system of public or state schooling is not in fact necessary to education, nor is it to training and socialization. All of these functions can be provided, and historically often have been, by the family, self-study, or some other informal means. But it is far easier for most parents to teach basic skills, to train their children, and to socialize them than it is for them to educate them, given that at minimum this means helping them to understand complex and abstract bodies of thought: I can take my child to the library and teach her how to look for and take out books training rather more easily than I can teach her the history, literature, and science contained in them.

Similarly, she can teach herself science, literature, and history, by reading the books, but most people will not make much progress without the help of other trained and educated people. It is a surprising fact that in many places people are able, sometimes required, to teach subjects that they have never themselves fully or adequately studied.

A small part of the implicit argument of this book is that that makes no sense at all and borders on the scandalous. So at rock bottom I am claiming that the justification for a public or state system of schooling is the utilitarian or practical one that this is the most likely way to ensure that all children, of whatever background, have an equal opportunity to enter an educational environment, and that the main emphasis should be on the educative rather than other functions of schooling.

However, there is little reason to suppose that most people especially the poor and relatively disadvantaged will have a realistic chance of becoming well-educated without a free public system of schooling. The rational tradition Any school system, and any theory or argument about schooling and education, takes place within a particular social and historical context. This, without any question, has a bearing on what may be said and done. The educational practice of medieval religious communities owed something to the fact that that is what they were, just as the very different educational practice and thought of the Enlightenment owed something to the changed nature of society and general beliefs in the eighteenth century.

Schools in the Soviet Union during the twentieth century provided a quite different kind of upbringing from that provided in Europe at the time so different that one might question whether they provided a true education at all, although they undoubtedly trained and socialized citizens effectively ; that difference arose out of the extreme differences in culture or the nature of and beliefs about society and people.

Within Europe there were of course also differences between individual countries or, sometimes, between different religious, non-religious, or other distinguishable communities, and these too led to differences in schooling. This extreme position, which will be considered in more detail below Chapter 9 , is quite untenable, indeed is rather childish in its wilfulness Thinking about education 1 17 and overstatement.

But it is important to acknowledge that to some extent we are all products of our place in history and have to make an effort to see beyond it. It is also necessary to recognize from the outset that we are heirs to a particular tradition of thought, centuries old, that emphasizes and values rationality and believes that through detached and abstract reasoning we can hope to distinguish between sense and nonsense, between the plausible and plainly false, between the reasonable and unreasonable, and between what there is good reason to presume is true and what there is not.

For these two reasons — the fact that we are part of a particular historical tradition that needs to be acknowledged, and the fact that that happens to be a tradition that values rationality — I want to conclude this chapter with a brief skeletal account of the rational tradition. For, notwithstanding globalization, the revolution in communications, the multicultural nature of our world, and the distinctive cultures within many countries, the system of schooling and the view of intellectual activity in most English speaking parts of the world belong to and have been predominantly shaped by what is generally referred to as the Western tradition.

It was not always and everywhere this way and it does not have to be this way. There have been, and are, societies that do not practice rational argument or scientific inquiry, relying instead on magic, religious inspiration, ideology, the commands of others, or tradition. Where does our commitment to rationality come from?

The Western tradition effectively begins in Athens in the fifth century BC. What may reasonably be said to be the beginning of civilization, implying living in a settled and ordered community as distinct from, say, a nomadic existence, is usually identified with the appearance of the cities of Uruk and Ur in Mesopotamia a Greek word meaning between rivers, namely the Euphrates and Tigris , which is modern Iraq, in about BC. From here come the earliest examples of writing, consisting essentially of symbolic pictorial representation of commodities, and not of use for much more than inventories or lists.

Between about and BC the Egyptian pyramids were built.

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While all of this attests to thought and design, it was not until somewhere between and BC that we find our first evidence of some kind of science, in Babylon where systematic planetary observations are made. In Greece, at about this time, the Minoan culture, associated with the famous palace at Knossos on Crete, is superseded by the Mycaenean Age, centred on the city of Mycenae, where King Agamemnon, according to tradition, was king. For comparative purposes, we may note that in China this was the period of the Shang Dynasty, during which there is evidence of extensive cities and 18 Thinking about education the development of bronze work and writing, but the latter is still limited to strictly practical uses as, for example, on oracle bones and inscriptions.

There is no evidence anywhere of the use of writing to tell stories, let alone to engage in discursive reflection. It is some time between and BC that an alphabetic script first emerged in the Middle East, and this, having reached Greece, is used in writing down the Homeric poems at Athens in the seventh century BC. This brings us to the truly remarkable story of Athens in the fifth century BC. Greece was not then a unified country as it is today. It consisted of a number of quite independent and small city-states, with different histories and sometimes different racial backgrounds, and often at war with one another.

The city-state of Athens covered an area of about square miles, and had somewhere in the region of 50, adult males outnumbered by , slaves and 20, resident foreigners, not to mention the women. Yet within a period of little more than one hundred years this tiny state gave to the world democracy, trial by jury, tragedy, comedy, history, theology, art as an aesthetic category in the form of architecture, pottery and pottery painting, and sculpture, grammatical study, rhetoric, medicine, and natural science. This last was really the culmination of inquiry that had its roots in Babylon and Egypt, and which then developed among the Greek speaking thinkers of Ionia modern Turkey at the end of the sixth and beginning of the fifth centuries.

The major concern of these first scientists was not really what we associate with science today, although they were immersed in mathematics and, for example, predicted an eclipse in BC; but they did not do much in the way of empirical investigation, and focused rather on the speculative question of how the world originally arose, and how change could come about, culminating in the first version of an atomic theory put forward by Leucippus and Democritus.

Then came Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who are the true known founders of the Western tradition. Socrates wrote nothing down himself, but is credited with being the first to emphasize the importance of moral and humanistic questions rather than scientific or natural ones. Plato, a disciple or pupil of his, did write, however, using a dialogue form that involved the character of Socrates, and it has been said and often repeated that there is a sense in which all of philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato. In fact, the senses often deceive, as when a person with an amputated limb nonetheless feels the presence of the limb.

Looking for certainty and truth, Plato put forward the view that while no particular stick could be said to be perfect, there is an Idea or Form of a stick or of stickness to which all everyday sticks conform to an imperfect extent; similarly while no human action is entirely, uncontentiously, unequivocally courageous, courageous acts are courageous in so far as they partake in the Form or Idea of Courage.

The Ideas are real, unchanging, permanent, and as such must be the proper objects of knowledge, while about the shifting, deceiving, sensible world we can only have a belief or opinion: What is indisputably the case is that embedded in this theory is the claim that thought on any subject can only advance with absolutely clear conceptions: There are those, even within the Western tradition, who deny even the basic assumption that one can meaningfully or usefully recognize or describe the characteristics of a concept, such that one can give an account of what an elephant or an education ideally is.

And there are certainly other traditions of thought, that do not place the same or perhaps any value on the giving of reasons. But, essentially, the Western tradition has been forever and consistently shaped by the two most important assumptions of the Greeks: Oxford University Press, Further reading There are many books that consider the scope of education in a broad social and political context. Humans form a unique species. We are not just animals, although we are a species of animal, and we are not super-complex machines, or, more specifically, computers, although some analogies may be drawn between our brains and computers.

Though some other animals have both brains and genetic codes that are very similar to ours, none has exactly the same brain or code. More to the point, notwithstanding many fascinating discoveries in the field of animal research, it remains clear that there are things that humans can and others animals cannot do. Only a human has the ability to use a language that allows us to do such things as hypothesize, imagine, predict, and lie.

It is because, so far as we know, no other animal has the capacity to use our kind of language, and because computers are, however sophisticated, programmed calculating machines that do not use our kind of language although we tend to confuse the issue when we use human terms in talking about them. To say this is not to challenge or 22 What is it to be human? It is simply to say that what this research shows, time after time, is that human beings are unique.

Whatever the similarities that truly exist or the analogies that less securely may be drawn between non-human and human brains, artificial and human intelligence, computers and people, and other animals and ourselves, there remains this ineluctable difference: You can design or program a machine and train a monkey, but, strictly speaking, you can educate only a human, or, to be precise, a being with a capacity for a hypothesizing language. We are animals, then, and as such we have physical bodies that can be scientifically studied and explained. We have brains, which are also physical and can likewise be studied and explained in terms of cause and effect.

Our brains in fact differ only slightly from those of certain other animals, so it is probably fair to say that it is not in our brains that our uniqueness really lies. It should also be acknowledged that we can identify certain parts of the brain with certain types of activity.

But here we have to make an important distinction between a necessary and a sufficient condition. Science has established that part of the brain is associated with creative activity, for example. What this means is that without this part of the brain functioning properly one cannot display creativity; it is therefore a necessary condition of being creative. What it does not mean, what is not in fact the case, is that to have this part of the brain in good working order is sufficient to give rise to creative activity.

Being creative means more than having a certain part of the brain functioning. A complete description of the brain can never capture the whole of the idea of creativity, rather as the quality and elegance of a champion tennis player is not captured in a description, however full, of her physical movements. We are also genetically endowed individuals. Current evidence suggests that the particular people we are, our individuality, owes a lot to this personal genetic endowment. But we are not simply the product of that endowment, and we should not think in terms of being determined by it.

Our individual genetic endowment is refined and modified by experience. The answer to the old question very old; it was considered extensively by the Greeks of whether nature or nurture makes us who we are, our innate self or the environment, is both; it is a matter of our given nature being What is it to be human? We are not determined by our genes; they are rather potentialities or tendencies that place limits on who we can become, but do not dictate specifics. To take a straightforward and simple example: I may have been genetically disposed towards some kind of cerebral way of life, and it may be that my friend, being differently constituted, could never have successfully and happily followed a cerebral career.

To that extent we are both partly where we are today because of our genes. But it does not follow that I could not have done other than pursue a cerebral career. I might not have had the opportunity to develop in such a way as to follow my genetic bent. But now we come back to the crucial point: It is this ability to formulate propositions that may be true, false, or imaginary, and by extension, to promise, imagine, and hypothesize, and the consequent ability to explain our world and to some extent predict and control it, that makes us who we are.

There are other ways that one might try to define humans e. But it remains the case that this is the most striking unique feature of humans, and it is difficult to think of anything more powerful and important. The nature of our language, as contrasted with the communication systems of other animals, has enabled us to build up an understanding and explanation of our world.

But the formidable web of understanding and insight that we have built up over the centuries includes truths that once articulated come to have control and direction over us. We have come to see, for example, that prime numbers have certain properties: Humans, then, uniquely employ and can respond to reason. Being animals we also behave sometimes in terms of simple stimulus-response; but our distinctive characteristic is the use of reason. This entry has no external links. Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server Configure custom proxy use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy.

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