Wednesday, June 01, 2005


With the quote from Marx up I thought I might put forward the question of education.

I think that people should have a solid grounding in history, language, and logic before struggling with an abstraction of said disciplines such as philosophy. One requires the logic to perform the abstraction, the history to understand how others have performed the abstraction, and language to communicate how you have perfomed the abstraction. Without these skills any discussion attempted in the field of an abstract discipline is reduced to nothing more than waffle. There is certainly a heirarchy of disciplines, which should be observed. Any revolution to the order would plunge society into a quagmire of meaningless waffle.

A place for everything and everything in its place, and while a philosopher king may be in order, philosophy is not for the masses. But it does help differentiate the people from the masses, don't you think?


Pete said...

Ok but I tend to think that a good philosophical education would involve learning history, language, logic and SCIENCE anyway so what is it that we need to do differently?

Furthermore why do we need to think of philosophy as an abstraction? There is a long and glorious tradition of practical philosophy (casuistry for instance) that should not be ignored here. Despite what people may say about Stephen Toulmin's (read 'Cosmopolis') historical accuracy I tend to think that his main points about pre-modern philosophy's tendency to be more focused on the practical and the need for contemporary philosophy to rethink it's position in regard to this issue are correct. Either way though this stuff makes for great discussion...

Hierarchy of disciplines? Another great discussion topic. Having already read an account of one proposed "revolution" to the order of sciences (a la Roy Bhaskar) I would be greatly interested in hearing what your proposed hierarchy would be. I would also like to hear detail on what causal processes you are proposing that would 'plunge society into a quagmire of meaningless waffle' following any tinkering with said hierarchy.

I also think you should clarify the last paragraph. Why is a philosopher king in order? Why is philosophy not for the masses? And why does it differentiate people from the masses? How should we determine who it is for then? Is this differentiation a good thing? And so on....
Not to be critical, it seems that you're trying to get at something interesting with this last paragraph and it would be good to develop these ideas a little further.

michael said...

I'm happy to grant science as well.

I think that any knowledge is an abstraction for that which the knowledge is of. But then some things are absractions of abstractions, e.g. discussions on "the good" or "god" or "personhood" or "morality"...

Given this statement my idea of the kind of hierarchy I wsa reffering to should become clearer; the more steps of abstraction to get to what you're talking about, the higher up the hierarchy it is. Since I see Philosophy as abstracted through more steps than some other disciplines then I see it as further up the hierarchy of disciplines.
the main point about this hierarchy that I was making is that not all education is for everyone, and at the same time, while some people may want to learn a discipline further up the hierarchy, without having learned anything of the disciplines in the level below, then I think it would be a better education for them to learn those lower disciplines first, which will enable them to first have a better idea of what it is they are aspiring to learn, and secondly enable them to learn it more effectively when they do come to it.
from the idea of a more effective education comes the "meaningless waffle" comment. If educaation is innefective, then there will only be one language, that of the masses, which does not represent the learning that could be represented. I like to think that I am talking from an educated point of view and thus if we were to strip the meaning of education a large portion of my language would suddenly be meaningless.

As for the "philosopher king" comment, I must admit I was being overblown, and since Plato brought it up I thought I may as well throw it in again; there really is no backing for it.

If the masses want to learn the more immediate disciplines as well then I see no reason why philosophy is not for the masses, but as yet I see no interest in the masses for more education that is absolutely required. I don't think that we can set out criterion for who can study philosophy and who can't, but anybody looking to study could be advised as above, and allowed to make thier own decisions. If it is for them, well all is well and good, if not, then the private institution tutoring them will make some money from them, allowing that institution to better teach more students.

with the seperating the people from the masses, well I was exagerating the hierarchy thing, which differentiates the aristocracy from the masses, and equating some idea of personhood with education.