Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Metaphysical Imperative In Education

Education cannot help us as long as it accords no place to metaphysics. Whether the subjects taught are subjects of science or the humanities, if the teaching does not lead to clarification of metaphysics, that is to say, of our fundamental convictions, it cannot educate a man and, consequently, cannot be of real value to society.

It is often asserted that education is breaking down because of over-specialization. But this is only a partial and misleading diagnosis. Specialization is not in itself a faulty principle of education. . . . What is at fault is not specialization, but the lack of depth with which the subjects are usually presented, and the absence of metaphysical awareness.

The sciences are being taught without any awareness of the presuppositions of science, of the meaning and significance of scientific laws, and of the place occupied by the natural sciences within the whole cosmos of human thought. The result is that the presuppositions of science are normally mistaken for its findings. Economics is being taught without any awareness of the view of human nature that underlies present-day economic theory. In fact, many economists are themselves unaware of the fact that such a view is implicit in their teaching and that nearly all their theories would have to change if that view changed.

How could there be a rational teaching of politics without pressing all questions back to their metaphysical roots? Political thinking must necessarily become confused . . . if there is continued refusal to admit the serious study of the metaphysical and ethical problems involved.
-E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

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