Platonic Idealism

2 February 2017

Philosophical foundations of education (8th edition) Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Prentice Hall. Idealism, the theory that reality is based on absolute truths (or forms) and not materialism, is one of the oldest systematic philosophies in western culture. Chapter 1 discusses the philosophy of several outstanding philosophers associated with idealism. The chapter breaks the philosophers into three areas: Platonic idealism, religious idealism and modern idealism and its characteristics.

Chapter 1 also discusses idealism as a philosophy of Education. The basis for platonic idealism is the concept of absolute truth and that knowledge is not created, but discovered. Platonic idealism consists of the philosophical, social and educational ideas of the Greek philosopher Plato. Being a disciple of Socrates, he believed in the Socratic dialectic method. This method can be seen in the Republic and the Laws, two of his famous works. Plato envisioned that since there are universal truths in mathematics, then there must be the same in other fields such as politics, religion and education.

Platonic Idealism Essay Example

Therefore, the search for absolute truth is the quest of the philosopher. He also believed there was a “dividing line” between the unpredictable world of material and the uncharted, abstract world of ideas. Plato saw a society where equal opportunity existed on all levels. Augustine had a big influence on religious idealism. He readily accepted Plato’s notation of the “divined line”. He believed that man inherited the sin of Adam and was between the World of God and the World of Man. However, both philosophers believed that God created knowledge and people discovered it by finding God.

Augustine thought that in order to teach an individual the teacher must direct the learner using “signs”. Learning had to come from within. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries idealism began to largely indentify with the works of Rene Descartes, George Berkley, Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, and Josiah Royce. Descartes explored “methodical doubt”, which meant to doubt all things. He based his two principles on cogito and Deity, both of which have heavily influenced modern idealism. Berkeley believed that the material world exists independent of the mind. His theory was that there is no existence without perception.

Kant’s work critiqued the past system and introduced the idea of “Copernican revolution”. He wanted to show that real knowledge is possible. Hegel believed that his logic would arrive at Absolute Knowledge. Royce was one of the most influential American exponents of Hegelian idealism. Royce supported the idea of “embodiment of purpose”, the idea that external meaning depends on internal meaning. The idealist aim for education deals with the search for truth and the theory that it is more important to place emphasis on the nonphysical and abstract in order to arrive at the truth.

Idealists believe that people are thinking beings and should understand why things happen instead of knowing what is happening. Plato believed that a person’s opinion was the lowest kind of thinking because their thoughts are not well organized and tend to be contradictory. People could also deal with today’s problems better if they used great work in relation to facts and ideas of today. Self-realization is the ultimate aim of education. Descartes idea “I think, therefore I am” is the bases of his metaphysical schema and methodology.

Horne believed that people must find themselves as an integral part of a universe mind. The central idea of idealist philosophy is character development. Kant was the more prominent advocator of character development. He promoted that people should act the way that they wanted all other people to act. This theory is known as “categorical imperative”. Another emphasis of character development is willpower. Horne believed that education is directly proportional to effort and that students should do tasks that may not be interesting but valuable to their education.

Gentile supported the theory that proper education should also develop a sense of loyalty. Today’s methods of education lack a sense of depth that idealist believe crucial to a students learning. Plato’s method of learning was centered on dialect, a method that requires the dialogue between instructor and student. Lecturing is viewed as method of stimulating conveyance of information and used as a way of helping students understand important concepts. All education is believed to be self-education.

Projects are an example of self-learning because the teacher is not always present when a project is done. The nature of these activities should be on a higher level of thought. The earliest years of education prepare students by developing skills used to learn. Idealists stress the importance of the teacher to understand the ultimate purpose of learning. In preserving the subject matter content, which is essential for the development of the individual mind, the curriculum must include those subjects essential for the realization of mental and moral development.

These subjects provide one with culture, and they should be mandated for all pupils. Moreover, the subject matter should be kept constant for all. Another important factor in idealist education is that students should be taught to think at all levels of education. They think that humans can become more rational by developing the ability to think. The student’s environment must promote the use of the mind. Skills taught should also develop conceptual ability. Schools should provide students with models for development that present them with ideas that can be used for guidance.

The teacher should engage students and encourage them to participate through questions and dialect. Teaching is considered a high moral calling. No other philosophy has influenced schools and learning as long as idealism, but there has been a steady decline over the past years. There are several factors that have declined the influence of idealism in the school. Some of those factors include: industrialization, technology, developments in science, renewed drive of realism, and the historical decline of traditional religion.

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