1. Ed (1.5 Year)






Course Code: 8609                                      Units: 1–9


















(All Rights Reserved with the Publisher)

First Printing………………………………………… 2017

Quantity………………………………………………. 20,000

Composed by………………………………………. M. Hameed Zahid

Printing Coordinator……………………………… Printing Press Operations Committee

Printer…………………………………………………. AIOU-Printing Press, H-8, Islamabad.

Publisher……………………………………………… Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad.







Chairman Course Team:                      Prof. Dr. Nasir Mahmood



Course Development Coordinator:     Dr. Fazal ur Rahman



Writers:                                               1.      Dr. Muhammad Athar Hussain


  1. Rahmatullah Bhatti


  1. Mubeshera Tufail


  1. Farkhanda Rashid



Reviewer:                                            Dr. Fazal ur Rahman



Composed by:                                     M. Hameed Zahid



Editor:                                                 Mr. Fazal Karim






This is the foundation course of B. Ed (1.5 Year) program. The course focuses on the ideological, philosophical, psychological, socioeconomic and historical foundations of education. The major focus of the course is on developing an understanding of the trainee teachers on how different philosophical theories affect education. The course will help in developing the ability in trainee teachers to interpret knowledge within its historical, philosophical, ideological and social context which will lead to produce critical perspectives on education both within, and outside of schools.


I am grateful to Professor Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, Vice Chancellor, Allama Iqbal Open University for providing support, guidance and healthy environment to develop this course.    My    heartiest    thanks    and    most    respectful    regards    are    for Dr. Fazal ur Rahman, Dr. Rehmatullah Bhatti and Dr. Farkhanda Rashid for making valuable contributions in the development of the course.


Finally I am thankful to all who helped in developing this course.




Prof. Dr. Nasir Mahmood Dean







Philosophy of Education is a three credit hours course. It consists of nine units. This course is an introduction to the philosophy of education. It examines the foundations of educational philosophy and it will also attempt to understand the historical context from which our educational discourse derives. More specifically, the course will discuss topics in the areas of idealism, realism, pragmatism, existentialism and post modernism. An understanding of these areas will give the trainee teachers further insight into educational theories such as essentialism, perennialism, progressivism and social reconstructionism, and how these theories impact the classroom teacher. The unit 1 of the course is about the introduction of Philosophy. Unit 2 and 3 discusses the Classical and Modern Philosophical Perspectives on Education. Unit 4 of the course explains the sources of knowledge, while Unit 5 describes Greek Philosophers’ Perspective on Education. Unit 6 and 7 highlighted the western philosophers and Muslim philosopher’s perspective on education. The unit 8 of the course is about the Contemporary Philosophies and Curriculum Development and Unit 9 explained the thinks’ viewpoints in education.

This is the first edition of the book; the readers are requested to send their feedback/suggestions for improvement of the book.





Dr. Fazal ur Rahman Course Development Coordinator







After completion of the course, the trainee teachers will be able to:


  1. Describe the scope of philosophy and branches of


  1. Analyze the relationship of education and


  1. Evaluate the role of philosophy in educational policy and


  1. Discuss the main tenets of idealism and


  1. Define naturalism, pragmatism and


  1. Identify the similarities and differences among naturalism, pragmatism and


  1. Differentiate between different sources of


  1. Explain the dialectical method of


  1. Evaluate Plato’s theory of education and point out its contribution to the field of education.


  1. Analyze Aristotle’ curriculum of


  1. Describe John Lock’ theory of


  1. Evaluate John Dewey’s philosophy of education.


  1. Describe principles of curriculum


  1. Analyze Herbart’s Theory of


  1. Discuss Imam Al-Ghazali’s view about


  1. Explain role of contemporary philosophies in education.


  1. Compare different philosophies for curriculum






Page #



Course Team…………………………………………………………………………………………… iii

Acknowledgement……………………………………………………………………………………. iv

Introduction of the Course …………………………………………………………………..       v

Objectives of the Course…………………………………………………………………………… vi

Unit–1:     Introduction to Philosophy…………………………………………………..        1

1.1    Introduction………………………………………………………………………….       2

1.2    Objectives ……………………………………………………………………………       2

1.3    Definition and Scope of Philosophy ………………………………………..       2

1.4    Branches of Philosophy …………………………………………………………       4

1.5    Relationship of Education………………………………………………………       5

  • Role of Philosophy in Education Policy and Practice ……………….. 7

1.6.1    Philosophy and Aims of Education……………………………….       8

  • Philosophy and the Curriculum………………………………………………………….. 10
  • Philosophy and Teacher…………………………………………………………………….. 11
  • Philosophy and Method of Teaching…………………………………………………… 12
  • Four General Philosophies…………………………………………………………………. 12
    • Idealism 13
    • Realism 13
    • Pragmatism 14
    • Existentialism…………………………………………………………………………………… 14
  • Educational Philosophies…………………………………………………………………… 15
    • Perennialism 15
    • Essentialism 16
    • Progressivism…………………………………………………………………………………… 16
    • Reconstructionism/Critical Theory……………………………………………………… 17
  • Self-Assessment Questions………………………………………………………………… 17
  • Activities…………………………………………………………………………………………. 17
  • Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………. 18





Unit–2: Classical and Modern Philosophical Perspectives on Education-I 19
2.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 20
2.2 Objectives …………………………………………………………………………… 20
2.3 Idealism………………………………………………………………………………. 21
2.3.1    Chief Characteristics of Idealism…………………………………. 21
2.3.2    Types of Idealism………………………………………………………. 22
2.3.3    Idealism in Education ………………………………………………… 23
2.3.4    Aims and Ideals of Education ……………………………………… 24
2.3.5    Idealism and Curriculum…………………………………………….. 26
2.3.6    Idealism and the Educator…………………………………………… 27
2.3.7    Idealism and Educational Methods ………………………………. 28
2.3.8    Idealism and Discipline………………………………………………. 29
2.3.9    Idealism in Contemporary Education …………………………… 30
2.4 Realism ………………………………………………………………………………. 32
2.4.1    The Chief Tenets of Realism ………………………………………. 32
2.4.2    Types of Realism ………………………………………………………. 32
2.4.3    Comparison of Idealism and Realism …………………………… 33
2.4.4    Realism in Education …………………………………………………. 35
2.4.5    Aims of Education …………………………………………………….. 37
2.4.6    Curriculum ……………………………………………………………….. 38
2.4.7    Methods of Teaching …………………………………………………. 39
2.4.8    Contribution of Realism to Education ………………………….. 39
2.5 Self-Assessment Questions……………………………………………………. 41
2.6 Activities …………………………………………………………………………….. 41
2.7 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………….. 42
Unit–3: Classical & Modern Philosophical Perspectives on Education-II 43
3.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 44
3.2 Objectives …………………………………………………………………………… 44
3.3 Naturalism…………………………………………………………………………… 44
3.3.1    Philosophical Presuppositions …………………………………….. 45
3.3.2    Philosophical Forms of Naturalism ……………………………… 45
3.3.3    Aims of Education …………………………………………………….. 46
3.3.4    Curriculum ……………………………………………………………….. 47
3.3.5    Educational Methods …………………………………………………. 47
3.3.6    The Teacher ……………………………………………………………… 49
3.3.7    Discipline …………………………………………………………………. 50





3.3.8    School Organisation…………………………………………………… 51
3.3.9    Contribution of Naturalism to Education………………………. 52
3.4 Pragmatism …………………………………………………………………………. 58
3.4.1    Fundamental principles of Pragmatism ………………………… 58
3.4.2    Forms of Pragmatism …………………………………………………. 59
3.4.3    Pragmatism in Education ……………………………………………. 60
3.5 Existentialism………………………………………………………………………. 66
3.5.1    The Chief Characteristics of Existentialism ………………….. 66
3.5.2    The Aims of Education ………………………………………………. 70
3.6 Self-Assessment Questions……………………………………………………. 71
3.7 Activities …………………………………………………………………………….. 72
3.8 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………….. 72
Unit–4: Sources of Knowledge…………………………………………………………. 73
4.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 74
4.2 Objectives …………………………………………………………………………… 74
4.3 Revealed……………………………………………………………………………… 74
4.4 Intuition………………………………………………………………………………. 78
4.5 Authority …………………………………………………………………………….. 80
4.6 Rational ………………………………………………………………………………. 82
4.7 Empirical…………………………………………………………………………….. 84
4.8 Activity ………………………………………………………………………………. 86
4.9 Self-Assessment Questions……………………………………………………. 87
4.10 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………….. 88
Unit–5: Greek Philosophers’ Perspective on Education ……………………. 89
5.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 90
5.2 Objectives …………………………………………………………………………… 90
5.3 Socrates ………………………………………………………………………………. 90
5.4 The Sophist Predecessors………………………………………………………. 91
5.5 Objectives of Greek Education ………………………………………………. 91
5.6 The Socratic Method…………………………………………………………….. 91
5.7 The Dialectical Method…………………………………………………………. 92




  • Salient Features of Dialectical method………………………………………………… 93
  • Theory of Knowledge……………………………………………………………………….. 94
  • Theory of Concepts………………………………………………………………………….. 95
  • Reason and Definition in Knowledge…………………………………………………. 96
  • Knowledge and Virtue……………………………………………………………………… 96
  • Fundamental principles of Socratic Education……………………………………… 97
  • Plato 99
    • Aims of Education……………………………………………………………………………. 99
    • Curriculum of Education…………………………………………………………………. 100
    • Role of Educator……………………………………………………………………………. 100
    • Education According to Classes……………………………………………………….. 101
  • Aristotle………………………………………………………………………………………… 101
    • Society as Educator………………………………………………………………………… 102
    • Value of Education in the State……………………………………………………….. 102
    • Education of the Child……………………………………………………………………. 103
  • Self-assessment Questions……………………………………………………………….. 108
  • Activities……………………………………………………………………………………….. 108
  • Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………….. 108

Unit–6:     Western Philosophers’ Perspective on Education……………………. 109

  • Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………… 110
  • Objectives……………………………………………………………………………………… 110
  • John Lock……………………………………………………………………………………… 110
    • A Theory of Knowledge………………………………………………………………….. 111
    • Parents and Children………………………………………………………………………. 112
    • Priorities in Education…………………………………………………………………….. 114
    • The Curriculum………………………………………………………………………………. 115
  • John Dewey…………………………………………………………………………………… 117
  • Herbart………………………………………………………………………………………….. 125
  • Self-Assessment Questions………………………………………………………………. 132
  • Activities……………………………………………………………………………………….. 132
  • Bibliography………………………………………………………………………………….. 132

Unit–7:     Muslim Philosophers’ Perspective on Education…………………….. 133

7.1    Introduction…………………………………………………………………………… 134





7.2 Objectives …………………………………………………………………………… 134
7.3 Imam Ghazali (1058–1111) …………………………………………………… 134
7.4 Ibne-Khaldun (1332–1406 AD)……………………………………………… 137
7.5 Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibnya’Qub-Ibnmiskawayh (C.940–1030) 141
7.6 Al-Farabi (872–951 AD)……………………………………………………….. 146
7.7 Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938)…………………………………… 153
7.8 Activities/Key Points ……………………………………………………………. 159
7.9 Self-Assessment Questions Answers ………………………………………. 161
7.10 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………….. 162
Unit–8: Contemporary Philosophics and Curriculum Development….. 165
8.1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………. 166
8.2 Objectives …………………………………………………………………………… 167
8.3 Perennialism………………………………………………………………………… 167
8.3.1    Perennialists Curriculum…………………………………………….. 167
8.3.2    Role of Teacher…………………………………………………………. 168
8.4 Progressivism………………………………………………………………………. 169
8.4.1    Progressivists Curriculum…………………………………………… 170
8.4.2    Role of Teacher…………………………………………………………. 170
8.5 Essentialism ………………………………………………………………………… 171
8.5.1    Essentialist Curriculum………………………………………………. 172
8.5.2    Role of Teacher…………………………………………………………. 173
8.6 Deconstructionism ……………………………………………………………….. 174
8.6.1    Deconstructionism Curriculum……………………………………. 175
8.6.2    Role of Teacher…………………………………………………………. 175
8.7 Pragmatism …………………………………………………………………………. 176
8.7.1    Pragmatism and Curriculum ……………………………………….. 178
8.7.2    Role of Teacher…………………………………………………………. 180
8.8 Existentialism………………………………………………………………………. 182
8.8.1    Existentialism Curriculum ………………………………………….. 184
8.8.2    Role of Teacher…………………………………………………………. 185
8.9 Key Points…………………………………………………………………………… 188
8.10 Bibliography ……………………………………………………………………….. 189




Unit–9:     Thinkers in Education…………………………………………………………… 191

























Written by: Dr. Rahmat Ullah Bhatti Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





Progress of human civilization is the product of education, but the answer to every educational question is ultimately influenced by our philosophy of life. Philosophy wants to understand man in relation to the whole universe nature and God. Philosophy deals with the nature of human mind and personality, and with the ways in which man and his institutions can be under stood. It endeavors to understand all that comes with in the bound of human experience. It aims set fundamental understanding of things the problem of human conduct, the assumptions that under lie religious or scientific beliefs, the tool sand methods of thinking, or any issue that arises in any field of human activity. Thus philosophy seeks to provide a complete account of the man’s world. It is reflective and critical in nature. It is concerned with critical examination of the fund a men talnotions and assumptions of any field that falls within human experience. From the above we may conclude that philosophy is a” search for a comprehensive view of nature, an attempt at universal explanation of the nature of things.”



After reading this unit, you will be able to:


  1. Define philosophy


  1. Describe the scope of philosophy


  1. Discuss the branches of philosophy


  1. Analyze the relationship of education and philosophy


  1. Evaluate the role of philosophy in educational policy and practice



A beginner in philosophy is perturbed to find that different philosophers have given different definitions of philosophy. While some philosophers have laid emphasis on psychological facts, others have given more importance to values. According to John Dewey, “Whenever philosophy has been taken seriously, it has always been assumed that it signified achieving a wisdom that would influence the conduct of life.” On the other hand, according to Windelband, philosophy is” the critical science of universal values.”However, some important definitions of philosophy are as follows:


1.     Philosophy is a Critical Method of Approaching Experience

Examples of this type of definitions are as follows:

  1. “Philosophy is essentially a spirit or method of approaching experience rather than a body of conclusions about ” Edgar S. Brightman
  2. “If is not the specific content of the conclusions, but the spirit and method by which they are reached, which entitles them to be described as philosophical…” Clifford Barrat




  1. “Were I limited to one line for my answer to it, I should say that philosophy is general theory of criticism.”C. Ducasse


2.     Philosophy is Comprehensive Synthetic Science

The following definitions of philosophy emphasize its synthetic aspect:

  1. “Philosophy, like science, consists of theories of insights arrived at as a result of systematic ” —Joseph A. Leighton
  2. “Philosophy is concerned with everything as a universal ” Herbert Spencer
  3. “Our subject is a collection of science, such as theory of knowledge, logic, cosmology, ethics and aesthetics, as well as a unified ” Roy Wood Sellars
  4. The above mentioned definitions of philosophy show that while some philosophers have mainly emphasized critical philosophy, others have defined it as a synthetic In fact, both these view-points are one-sided because philosophy is both critical as well as synthetic. Literally speaking, the word ‘philosophy’ involves two Greek words Phil meaning love and Sophia meaning knowledge. Thus literally speaking, philosophy means love of wisdom. The literal meaning of philosophy shows that the philosopher is constantly and everywhere engaged in the search for truth. He does not bother so much to arrive at final conclusions and continues with his search for truth throughout his life. Hisaim is the pursuit of truth rather than its possession (Sharma, 2002).


Scope of Philosophy

The scope of philosophy can be divided into the following two parts:

  • Field of Philosophical Sciences. The scope of philosophy includes different philosophical sciences such as metaphysics, epistemology, logic, semantics, philosophy of science, axiology, aesthetics, ethics, philosophy of religion, political philosophy, philosophy of education, philosophy of history, economic philosophy All these sciences are important parts of the field of philosophy.
  • Field of Philosophy as Comprehensive Science. Philosophy is the science of sciences, the mother of all sciences. From this point of view, its scope includes the criticism and synthesis of the postulates and conclusions of the physical and social
  • Subject Matter of Philosophy. The scope of philosophy clarifies its subject Its subject matter includes the conclusions and postulates of all the physical and social sciences besides their general problems.


In the words of C.D. Broad, “The object of philosophy is to bake over the result of the various sciences, add to them the result of religious and ethical experiences of mankind and then reflect upon the whole, hoping to be able to reach some general conclusions as to the nature of the universe and as to our position and prospects in it.”


The above discussion makes it clear that the philosophical problems, scope and subject matter depend on philosophical sciences and the conclusions and postulates of different sciences.




                  BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY

While studying the philosophical thoughts of a philosopher, we study his thinking in different branches of philosophy. These branches of philosophy are as follows:

  • Epistemology. Philosophy is the search for knowledge. This search is critical. Hence, the first problem which arises before a philosopher is about the nature of knowledge and its limitations. Therefore, epistemology is the most fundamental branch of It discusses philosophically truth, falsehood, validity of knowledge, limits of knowledge and nature of knowledge, knower and known etc.
  • Metaphysics. This is the study of existence, reality or essence. Its main branches are as follows:
    • Cosmogony. This is a study of creation. Is the world created, or is it eternal? How was world created? Why was it created? Who created the world? What is the purpose in creation? All these are the problems of cosmogony.
    • Cosmology. The main problems of cosmology are: Is the world one or it many, or is it both one and many?
    • Ontology. Ontology is the study of ultimate reality. Is the reality one or is it many or is it both one and many? If reality is many, what is the relation between these many elements? All these are ontological questions.
    • Philosophy of self. This is mainly concerned with the philosophical analysis of self. What is self? What is its relation with the body? Is it free of does it depend on the body? Is it one or many? All these are problems of philosophy of self.
    • Eschatology. The discussion of the condition of soul after death, the nature of the other world, , form the subject matter of this branch of philosophy.


  • Axiology. This branch of philosophy philosophically studies value. It has been divided into the following three branches:
    • Ethics. Ethics discusses the criteria of right and good.
    • Aesthetics. Aesthetics discusses the nature and criteria of
    • Logic studies truth. The subject matter of logic includes the methods of judgment, types of proposition, hypothesis, definition, comparison, division, classification and fundamental laws of thoughts, etc.
  • Philosophy of Sciences. This branch of philosophy is concerned with the philosophical examination of the postulates and conclusions of different
  • Philosophies of Social Science. The philosophical problems in different social sciences give birth to different branches of philosophy of which the main are as follows:
    • Philosophies of Education. This is concerned with the aim of education and the basic philosophical problems arising in the field of
    • Social Philosophy. This branch of philosophy discusses the philosophical basis of social processes and social
    • Political Philosophy. This branch of philosophy is concerned with the forms of government, forms of state and other basic problems arising in the political field.




  • Philosophy of History. The subject matter of this branch of philosophy is the nature of historical process, its purpose and its relations with the cosmic
  • Philosophy of Economics. This branch of philosophy studies the aim of man’s economic activities and the fundamental problems arising in the economic


Besides the above mentioned branches of philosophy based on sciences, there may be certain comparatively lesser branches of philosophy such as philosophy of physics, philosophy of commerce, philosophy of physical education, philosophy of marriage, philosophy of family etc. These, however, are not sufficient to form independent branches of philosophy.


  • Semantics. The most important branch of philosophy, according to the contemporary school of Logical Positivism, is semantics which is concerned with the determination of the meanings of different words used in different languages (Shivendra, 2006).



Educational thinking, like every other branch of knowledge, started in the philosophical deliberation of the ancient Greek philosophers. Thus the meaning of education in west is initially available in the works of Plato. It is interesting to note that thousands of years ago Plato gave a meaning to education which is even now followed in the West with slight changes here and there.


Plato defined education as a life-long process starting, “from the first years of childhood and lasting to the very end of the life.” He used the term education in a very wide sense, “which makes a man eagerly pursue the ideal perfection of citizenship and teaches him how rightly to rule and how to obey.”


Education not only provides knowledge and skills but also inculcates values, training of instincts, fostering right attitude and habits. In (Republic), Plato points out, that “true education, whatever that may be, will have the greatest tendency to civilize and humanize them in their relation to one another and to those who are under their protection.”This humanist definition of education propounded by Plato is still the most widely accepted meaning of education in the West. Education everywhere has been taken as a process of inculcating values. As Plato said, “Now I mean by education that training which is given by suitable habits to the first instincts of virtue in children.”


These views of Plato have been universally accepted in West as well as in the East. Education has been defined differently by the idealists, the pragmatists, the naturalists and the realist philosophers. However, its meaning has been generally idealistic. Without some sort of idealism there can be no education worth the name.




In the words of Robert R. Rusk, “We may accept the aim of education is the enhancement or enrichment of personality, the differentiating feature of which is the embodiment of universal values.”


The Western educational philosophers have generally agreed that the growth of the human child is the essence of education. In the words of A.G. Hughes, “The essence of discipline is, thus not forced subordination to the will of hated tyrants, but submission to the example of admired superiors”.


In the Middle Ages Comenius declared education to be a process whereby an individual developed quality relating to religion, knowledge and morality, and thereby established his claim to be called a human being. “The fundamental principles of education”, according to Froebel, “instruction and teaching should be passive and protective not directive and interfering.”


The principle of liberty has found most eloquent expression in the definition of education given by Rousseau when he said, “Let us obey the call of Nature. We shall see that her yoke is easy and that when we give heed to her voice we find the joy in the answer of a good conscience.”


Other has laid emphasis upon the social meaning of education whereby it aims at making an individual fit in the society. It was in this sense that Aldous Huxley said, “A perfect education is one which trains up every human being to fit into the place he or she is to occupy in the social hierarchy, but without, in the process, destroying his or her individuality.”


All the foregoing definitions have stated that education is the process of development. It, therefore, becomes necessary to discover what is implied in this development. Although the ability to learn depends upon development, but development is not synonymous with education. Development means the gradual and continuous progress of mind and body. Through this development the child acquires the following elements:

  1. Knowledge of the environment by which he is
  2. The necessary motor control to fulfill has individual needs.
  3. Linguistic abilities to enable him to
  4. Some knowledge of individual and collective The development of all these elements begins at home itself.


The educator’s task is to continue this process and to encourage it while the child is at school.


In fact, this process of development continues right through an individual’s life time. Consequently, it is accepted that education in its general sense continues throughout a man’s natural span of life, Even the successful teacher or educator himself remains a student throughout his life. On the one hand, he teaches certain things to some people but at the same time he learns something from them. All successful educators experience that




the development undergone by their thoughts, personalities and abilities would have been impossible otherwise. In much the same way, people other than the educator, teach and learn simultaneously (Shrivastava, 2003).


  • ROLE OF PHILOSOPHY IN EDUCATION POLICY AND PRACTICE Both philosophy and education are integrally and interdependently related to each We are discussing below this interdependency in some greater details. Education is dependent of Philosophy due to following reasons:
  • Philosophy Determines the Real Destination towards Which Education has to Go Education is a conscious dynamic process which needs proper guidance and Without proper guidance and supervision, it cannot achieve its goal. Philosophy determines the goal of life and also provides suitable and effective guidance and supervision for education to achieve that goal. Without the help of philosopher, education cannot be a successful process of development and achievement. Spencer has rightly remarked—”True education is practicable only by a true philosophy”.
  • Philosophy Determines the Various Aspects of Education Some scholars believe that philosophy is concerned with abstract items and conceptions only, while education deals with practical, concrete things and processes. Hence, the two are different and there exists no relation between them. But this is a wrong belief. Both philosophy and education are intimately and integrally connected with each other. Separation between the two is not possible on any account. It is the philosophy, we must know, that has been influencing all aspects of education since the very beginning and will go on influencing education for all times to come. Once again it will be better to recollect the slaying of Ross that “Philosophy and education are like the sides of the same coin, present different views of the same thing, and that one is implied by the other.”
  • Great Philosophers have been Great Educationists Also History bears eloquent testimony to the fact that great philosophers have been great educationists also of their times. Plato, Socrates, Locke, Comenius, Rousseau, Froebel, Dewey, and others who were great philosophers of their times have also talked about education. Their philosophical treatises have been important guide books for educational planning and determination of educational aims for children of the world. In other words, all great philosophers have employed education as a means to translate their philosophical ideas into practice for the people to follow and develop themselves. Philosophy is dependent on education due to following reasons:
    • Education is the Dynamic Side of Philosophy. Two things are essential for completing any task (1) Thought or plan and (2) Application or Philosophy is the thought or plan side and education is the application or practical side. Philosophy determines the aim of life and by analysis lays down the principles to be followed for achieving the set aims. Education translates these principles and ideas into practice, because the purpose of education is to mould human behaviour. Thus, Adams has rightly said “Education is the dynamic side of philosophy.”




  • Education is a Means to Achieve the Goal. As said above it is philosophy which determines the aims of life. Through analysis and classification these are divided into goals to be achieved by the process of education. Herbart holds the same opinion—”Education has no time to make holiday till all the philosophical questions are once for all cleared up.” At times educationists and educators put before philosophers such problems which face them and defy solutions. In this way, education contributes to new thinking and new philosophy may born out of his thinking and analyzing. So close are these two, the philosophy and the education, that it will be better to discuss this relation in greater details as Philosophy and Aims of Education, Philosophy and Curriculum, Philosophy and Methods of teaching, Philosophy and Disciplines, Philosophy and Textbooks and so on.


                  Philosophy and Aims of Education

The answer to every educational question is ultimately influenced by our philosophy of life. Although few formulate it, every system of education must have an aim, and the aim of education is relative to the aim of life. Philosophy formulates what it conceives to be the end of life; education offers suggestions how this end is to be achieved.


Philosophy acquaints us with values in life and education tells us how these values can be realized. That is why so much emphasis is placed on value in life while considering the nature of the school curriculum, the method of school discipline, and techniques of instruction and school organization.


These values are nothing but a philosophy of education which in the ultimate analysis is a philosophy of life. Philosophy gives meaning to all that is done in an educational process. Philosophy is the main guide towards which we have to look at points of conflicts in the educational endeavor.


We must have an aim of education for giving direction to various educative efforts. The aim of education is related with the aim of life, and the aim of life is always dependent on the philosophy that the individual has at a particular time. Thus we cannot do without a philosophical foundation of education. In the following lines more light is being thrown on this close relationship as borne by history:

  • Ancient Period. First of all, let us take the example of Sparta state in ancient It should be remembered that Sparta was under a constant attack by the enemies. Hence, the state needed resolute commanders and brave soldiers to defend its freedom and integrity. Hence, the aim of philosophy of ancient Sparta came to be a constant struggle against the enemy. To achieve this aim, the system of education tried to inculcate in children virtues of patriotism, courage, fearlessness, bodily power, strict discipline and a spirit of self-sacrifice at the call of the state. Weakness of body was condemned as vice and death in the service of the state was considered as the highest virtue. After Sparta; let us come to Rome, Athens and India. Romans were very conscious of their rights and duties and as such Roman education catered to the needs of fullest development of children in all spheres of




human activity. In Athens, the aim of life was to have beauty of physique, beauty of character and a sense of appreciation for the objects of beauty. Hence, the aim of education was the development of wholesome character and inculcation of qualities which enable children to lead their lives comfortably.


Thus, children were given full freedom and ample opportunities to develop themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. One can note here that with a change in the philosophy of life aims of education in Athens were quite different to those of Rome and Sparta, In ancient India, religion was regarded as most essential. The aim of life was to perform all worldly duties and then achieve salvation from worldly ties of rebirth. Hence, education, during those days, was organized to attain happiness, bliss and in the end salvation.

  • Medieval Period. Philosophy of life during medieval times saw great ups and Aims of life changed from time to time and so the aims of education also changed accordingly. In these days Islam and Christianity were busy with proselytization programmes in a very aggressive manner. Hence, religion entered the precincts of education also. The chief aims of Muslim education in India were:
    1. Propagation of Islam,
    2. Spread of education among Muslims,
    3. Extension of Islamic kingdoms,
    4. Development of morality,
    5. Achievement of material wellbeing,
    6. Propagation of Shariyat, and
    7. Building of character.


In Europe Reformation and Renaissance criticized the infallibility of Catholism. People asserted their right to know the truth themselves and did not believe blindly in the rituals and ceremonies. Thus, aims of education changed again. Education was to develop critical insight and reasonableness in all beliefs and activities. It was expected of education to demolish all blind beliefs and mechanical rituals.

  • Modern Period. Philosophy of life again changed in modem period. As a result, revolutionary changes began transforming education also. Philosophy of Locke fell from prominence and it came to be argued that education should develop the inherent qualities, aptitudes and capacities of children Psychological tendency began to influence education very powerfully. Education became child-centered and according to famous educationist Pestalozzi the aim of education was declared to develop the personality of the child to the fullest extent. Herbart advocated the aim of education to be the formation of character. As times went by, aims of life changed again. The industrial revolution had its impact on education. As a result, one of the aims of education, namely, development of vocational efficiency came to the forefront. At present, all nations of the world are organizing their educational systems according to their needs and ideologies. In countries where the sentient of democracy is strong, the aims of education are the inculcation of democratic values and promotion of democratic On the contrary, countries where communism, fascism or other kinds of despotism prevails as political ideology,




education is so organized as to promote absolute obedience, blind beliefs and rigid discipline in children.


In England and America where democratic values prevail, aims of education inculcate democratic ideals and values. The chief aim is to develop fully the individuality of the child. In America the philosophy of pragmatism is in vogue. This has influenced education to be really practical useful and purposive. Utility is the motto of all activities and experiences. On the contrary Russia and China exploit education as an instrument of indoctrination of enforced obedience and rigid discipline. During the British rule in India the purpose of education was to prepare native clerks to run the administrative machinery efficiently. After the attainment of independence in 1947, we have declared our country as a Republic and Socialistic welfare State. As such, the prime aim of our education is to develop dynamic citizens devoted to the service of the nation. Thus, we see that changing philosophy of nation always brings about corresponding changes in the aims of education. Thus J.S. Ross rightly says:

“Philosophy and education are like the two sides of the same coin; the one is implied by the other; the former is the contemplative side of life, while the latter is the active side.”


                  Philosophy and the Curriculum

Nowhere is this dependence of education on philosophy more marked than in the question of the curriculum. In the first chapter of his work on Education Spencer asserts that in the determination of the curriculum “our first step must obviously be to classify, in the order of their importance, the leading kinds of activity which constitute human life.”


To this principle there can be but little objection. But immediately we seek to fix the relative value of subjects, to classify them “in the order of their importance,” differences of aim and of philosophy emerge and confuse the issues.


Smith, Stanley and Shores speak of moral authority as one of the chief guides of curriculum building. They say that ‘moral authority is derived from fundamental principles of right and wrong. Evidently, the problem is philosophical.


According to Spencer, the building of a curriculum should be based on the main human activities. He fixes the relative value of subjects in order of their importance; e.g., he gives first place to subjects that relate to self-preservation.


According to the naturalists, the present experiences, activities and interests should be the guiding factor. The idealists, the child’s present and future activities are not important at all in the curriculum construction. The experiences of the human race as epitome in sciences and humanities should provide the primary consideration in deciding a curriculum.




The idealist does not emphasize one subject in preference to another. In fact, he attaches great importance to the quality of personal greatness which some subjects have in abundance. The idealist’s point of view is subjective, as opposed to merely objective values.


The pragmatists emphasize the principle of utility as the main criteria for determining the nature of curriculum. Lodge in “Philosophy of Education” writes:


“All subjects on the curriculum will be used to develop mastery over techniques in order to solve new problems rather than to train memory capable of flawless reproduction of systematic contents.”


The realists think that a bookish, abstract or sophisticated curriculum is useless. They want to concentrate on realities of life. They emphasize the importance of subjects that fall within the range of natural science.


The surprising and welcome interest and activity recently manifested in the problem of the curriculum is at present arrested for the want of a philosophical criterion. Thus Bode in “Modem Educational Theories”, remarks that unless we have some sort of guiding philosophy in the determination of objectives we get nowhere at all.


Briggs in discussing Curriculum Problems says: “It is just here that education seriously needs leaders—leaders who hold a sound comprehensive philosophy of which they can convince others, and who can direct its consistent application to the formulation of appropriate curricula.”


The philosopher, on the one hand, looking at life from the idealistic standpoint believes that work can, and ought to, be humanized, that man should be able to find satisfaction in his labour, that “we have somehow to discover there a theatergoer the attainment if not of the highest, certainly of genuine spiritual values.” The educationist, on the other hand, has assumed a principle of ‘compensation’.


It is not without significance that almost the best plea ever made for practical work in schools was penned by one of the most idealistic of educational philosophers, namely, Frobel.


The above discussion indicates that the problem of curriculum construction is philosophical in terms of the philosophical beliefs held by a group of people.


                  Philosophy and Teacher

Philosophy has a great influence on the teacher both in the area of thinking and behaving. Really speaking, a teacher is not a teacher alone. He is a philosopher also. In other words, a teacher himself has a philosophy of his own and he influences children accordingly. As such, his philosophy of life should be such which develops the individuality of children to the fullest extent. For this, the teacher should know full well the needs of children and




the demands of society and then plan his methods of teaching. He must keep in mind that his own beliefs, ideology and principles of behaviour have a powerful impact on the development of children. Hence, he must possess a good understanding of all the philosophies of life and choose good and wholesome elements from them to form his own philosophy. Further, he must beam an imbued with high ideals and possess moral and spiritual values which go to form his character and shape his conduct. He must also be well-conscious of national needs in all spheres and plan his teaching activities to fulfill those needs. Only such teachers imbued with high ideals, moral and spiritual values together with a sense of national responsibility for national prosperity and honour can create patriotic, dynamic, resourceful and enterprising citizens devoted to national service and international goodwill.


                  Philosophy and Method of Teaching

As with curriculum, so with method. The outstanding problem in educational method at the present time is the extent to which, if at all, the teacher should intervene in the educative process, and this raises philosophical issues. Non-intervention is justified for two quite different reasons, either because of the nature of the pupil’s endowment or because of his environment. Rousseau, Fichte, and Froebel all assume that the child’s nature is good, and any interventionism consequently harmful, hence the ‘negative’ or preventive education of Rousseau and the ‘passive’ education of Froebel. Montessori takes the environmentalist standpoint, and assumes that as the environment, comprising the didactic apparatus, etc., which she has prepared for the child, is ideal and perfectly adapted to evoke only the right type of response and the good impulses of the child, the teacher’s intervention is unnecessary and unjustified. The choice of methods of teaching depends on a philosophy. Kilpatrick’s use of the term “Philosophy of Method” shows that there is a close relation between educational method and philosophy. Method is a means by which a contact is developed between the student and the subject matter. But in absence of a definite aim of education or an adequate philosophy of life, the method of teaching employed by the teacher may repel the student from the subject. Teachers who think that they can do without a philosophy of life render their methods of teaching ineffective, because thereby the students are not able to see a relation between their life ideals and what they read. Evidently, there is a need of a philosophical foundation of education. Teachers, who assume that they can afford to ignore philosophy, pay the penalty of their neglect, for their efforts, lacking a coordinating principle, are thereby rendered ineffective (Sharma, 2002).



The term metaphysics literally means “beyond the physical.” This area of philosophy focuses on the nature of realityi. Metaphysics attempts to find unity across the domains of experience and thought. At the metaphysical level, there are four* broad philosophical schools of thought that apply to education today. They are idealism, realism, pragmatism (sometimes called experientialism), and existentialism. Each will be explained shortly. These four general frameworks provide the root or base from which the various educational philosophies are derived.




Two of these general or world philosophies, idealism and realism, are derived from the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Two are more contemporary, pragmatism and existentialism. However, educators who share one of these distinct sets of beliefs about the nature of reality presently apply each of these world philosophies in successful classrooms. Let us explore each of these metaphysical schools of thought.



Idealism is a philosophical approach that has as its central tenet that ideas are the only true reality, the only thing worth knowing. In a search for truth, beauty, and justice that is enduring and everlasting; the focus is on conscious reasoning in the mind. Plato, father of Idealism, espoused this view about 400 years BC, in his famous book, The Republic. Plato believed that there are two worlds. The first is the spiritual or mental world, which is eternal, permanent, orderly, regular, and universal. There is also the world of appearance, the world experienced through sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound, which is changing, imperfect, and disorderly. This division is often referred to as the duality of mind and bodyii. Reacting against what he perceived as too much of a focus on the immediacy of the physical and sensory world, Plato described a utopian society in which “education to body and soul all the beauty and perfection of which they are capable” as an ideal. In his allegory of the cave, the shadows of the sensory world must be overcome with the light of reason or universal truth. To understand truth, one must pursue knowledge and identify with the Absolute Mind. Plato also believed that the soul is fully formed prior to birth and is perfect and at one with the Universal Being. The birth process checks this perfection, so education requires bringing latent ideas (fully formed concepts) to consciousness.


In idealism, the aim of education is to discover and develop each individual’s abilities and full moral excellence in order to better serve society. The curricular emphasis is subject matter of mind: literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Teaching methods focus on handling ideas through lecture, discussion, and Socratic dialogue (a method of teaching that uses questioning to help students discover and clarify knowledge). Introspection, intuition, insight, and whole-part logic (The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole) are used to bring to consciousness the forms or concepts which are latent in the mind. Character is developed through imitating examples and heroes.



Realists believe that reality exists independent of the human mind. The ultimate reality is the world of physical objects. The focus is on the body/objects. Truth is objective-what can be observed. Aristotle, a student of Plato who broke with his mentor’s idealist philosophy, is called the father of both Realism and the scientific method. In this metaphysical view, the aim is to understand objective reality through “the diligent and unsparing scrutiny of all observable data.” Aristotle believed that to understand an object, its ultimate form had to be understood, which does not change. For example, a rose exists whether or not a person is aware of it. A rose can exist in the mind without being physically present, but ultimately, the rose shares properties with all other roses and




flowers (its form), although one rose may be red and another peach colored. Aristotle also was the first to teach logic as a formal discipline in order to be able to reason about physical events and aspects. The exercise of rational thought is viewed as the ultimate purpose for humankind. The Realist curriculum emphasizes the subject matter of the physical world, particularly science and mathematics. The teacher organizes and presents content systematically within a discipline, demonstrating use of criteria in making decisions. Teaching methods focus on mastery of facts and basic skills through demonstration and recitation. Students must also demonstrate the ability to think critically and scientifically, using observation and experimentation. Curriculum should be scientifically approached, standardized, and distinct-discipline based. Character is developed through training in the rules of conduct.



For pragmatists, only those things that are experienced or observed are real. In this late 19th century American philosophy, the focus is on the reality of experience. Unlike the Realists and Rationalists, Pragmatists believe that reality is constantly changing and that we learn best through applying our experiences and thoughts to problems, as they arise. The universe is dynamic and evolving, a “becoming” view of the world. There is no absolute and unchanging truth, but rather, truth is what works. Pragmatism is derived from the teaching of Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), who believed that thought must produce action, rather than linger in the mind and lead to indecisiveness.


John Dewey (1859-1952) applied pragmatist philosophy in his progressive approaches. He believed that learners must adapt to each other and to their environment. Schools should emphasize the subject matter of social experience. All learning is dependent on the context of place, time, and circumstance. Different cultural and ethnic groups learn to work cooperatively and contribute to a democratic society. The ultimate purpose is the creation of a new social order. Character development is based on making group decisions in light of consequences.


For Pragmatists, teaching methods focus on hands-on problem solving, experimenting, and projects, often having students work in groups. Curriculum should bring the disciplines together to focus on solving problems in an interdisciplinary way. Rather than passing down organized bodies of knowledge to new learners, Pragmatists believe that learners should apply their knowledge to real situations through experimental inquiry. This prepares students for citizenship, daily living, and future careers.



The nature of reality for Existentialists is subjective, and lies within the individual. The physical world has no inherent meaning outside of human existence. Individual choice and individual standards rather than external standards are central. Existence comes before any definition of what we are. We define ourselves in relationship to that existence by the choices we make. We should not accept anyone else’s predetermined philosophical system; rather, we must take responsibility for deciding who we are. The focus is on freedom, the development of authentic individuals, as we make meaning of our lives.




There are several different orientations within the existentialist philosophy. Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), a Danish minister and philosopher, is considered to be the founder of existentialism. His was a Christian orientation. Another group of existentialists, largely European, believes that we must recognize the finiteness of our lives on this small and fragile planet, rather than believing in salvation through God. Our existence is not guaranteed in an afterlife, so there is tension about life and the certainty of death, of hope or despair. Unlike the more austere European approaches where the universe is seen as meaningless when faced with the certainty of the end of existence, American existentialists have focused more on human potential and the quest for personal meaning. Values clarification is an outgrowth of this movement. Following the bleak period of World War II, the French philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, suggested that for youth, the existential moment arises when young people realize for the first time that choice is theirs, that they are responsible for themselves. Their question becomes “Who am I and what should I do? Related to education, the subject matter of existentialist classrooms should be a matter of personal choice. Teachers view the individual as an entity within a social context in which the learner must confront others’ views to clarify his or her own. Character development emphasizes individual responsibility for decisions. Real answers come from within the individual, not from outside authority. Examining life through authentic thinking involves students in genuine learning experiences. Existentialists are opposed to thinking about students as objects to be measured, tracked, or standardized. Such educators want the educational experience to focus on creating opportunities for self-direction and self-actualization. They start with the student, rather than on curriculum content.



Within the epistemological frame that focuses on the nature of knowledge and how we come to know, there are four major educational philosophies, each related to one or more of the general or world philosophies just discussed. These educational philosophical approaches are currently used in classrooms the world over. They are Perennialism, Essentialism, Progressivism, and Reconstructionism. These educational philosophies focus heavily on WHAT we should teach the curriculum aspect.



For Perennialists, the aim of education is to ensure that students acquire understandings about the great ideas of Western civilization. These ideas have the potential for solving problems in any era. The focus is to teach ideas that are everlasting, to seek enduring truths which are constant, not changing, as the natural and human worlds at their most essential level, do not change. Teaching these unchanging principles is critical. Humans are rational beings, and their minds need to be developed. Thus, cultivation of the intellect is the highest priority in a worthwhile education. The demanding curriculum focuses on attaining cultural literacy, stressing students’ growth in enduring disciplines. The loftiest accomplishments of humankind are emphasized– the great works of literature and art, the laws or principles of science. Advocates of this educational philosophy are Robert Maynard Hutchins who developed a Great Books program in 1963 and Mortimer




Adler, who further developed this curriculum based on 100 great books of western civilization.



Essentialists believe that there is a common core of knowledge that needs to be transmitted to students in a systematic, disciplined way. The emphasis in this conservative perspective is on intellectual and moral standards that schools should teach. The core of the curriculum is essential knowledge and skills and academic rigor. Although this educational philosophy is similar in some ways to Perennialism, Essentialists accept the idea that this core curriculum may change. Schooling should be practical, preparing students to become valuable members of society. It should focus on facts-the objective reality out there–and “the basics,” training students to read, write, speak, and compute clearly and logically. Schools should not try to set or influence policies. Students should be taught hard work, respect for authority, and discipline. Teachers are to help students keep their non-productive instincts in check, such as aggression or mindlessness. This approach was in reaction to progressivist approaches prevalent in the 1920s and 30s. William Bagley took progressivist approaches to task in the journal he formed in 1934. Other proponents of Essentialism are: James D. Koerner (1959), H. G. Rickover (1959), Paul Copperman (1978), and Theodore Sizer (1985).



Progressivists believe that education should focus on the whole child, rather than on the content or the teacher. This educational philosophy stresses that students should test ideas by active experimentation. Learning is rooted in the questions of learners that arise through experiencing the world. It is active, not passive. The learner is a problem solver and thinker who make meaning through his or her individual experience in the physical and cultural context. Effective teachers provide experiences so that students can learn by doing. Curriculum content is derived from student interests and questions. The scientific method is used by progressivist educators so that students can study matter and events systematically and first hand. The emphasis is on process-how one comes to know. The Progressive education philosophy was established in America from the mid 1920s through the mid 1950s. John Dewey was its foremost proponent. One of his tenets was that the school should improve the way of life of our citizens through experiencing freedom and democracy in schools. Shared decision making, planning of teachers with students, student-selected topics are all aspects. Books are tools, rather than authority.


                  Reconstructionism/Critical Theory

Social Reconstructionism is a philosophy that emphasizes the addressing of social questions and a quest to create a better society and worldwide democracy. Reconstructionist educators focus on a curriculum that highlights social reform as the aim of education. Theodore Brameld (1904-1987) was the founder of social Reconstructionism, in reaction against the realities of World War II. He recognized the potential for either human annihilation through technology and human cruelty or the capacity to create a beneficent society using technology and human compassion. George




Counts (1889-1974) recognized that education was the means of preparing people for creating this new social order.


Critical theorists, like social reconstructionists, believe that systems must be changed to overcome oppression and improve human conditions. Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was a Brazilian whose experiences living in poverty led him to champion education and literacy as the vehicle for social change. In his view, humans must learn to resist oppression and not become its victims, nor oppress others. To do so requires dialog and critical consciousness, the development of awareness to overcome domination and oppression. Rather than “teaching as banking,” in which the educator deposits information into students’ heads, Freire saw teaching and learning as a process of inquiry in which the child must invent and reinvent the world.


For social reconstructionists and critical theorists, curriculum focuses on student experience and taking social action on real problems, such as violence, hunger, international terrorism, inflation, and inequality. Strategies for dealing with controversial issues (particularly in social studies and literature), inquiry, dialogue, and multiple perspectives are the focus. Community-based learning and bringing the world into the classroom are also strategies (Cohn, 1999).


  1. Define


  1. Describe branches of


  1. Discuss the role of philosophy in curriculum


  1. Compare philosophy of idealism with philosophy of


  1. Analyze any two educational


  1. How philosophies influence teaching learning process?


  1. Evaluate the role of progressivism in modern


  1. Which one philosophy is dominant in our curriculum?



  1. Analyze the objectives of any textbook for class 10th in the perspective of idealism and prepare a report on


  1. Make a list of teaching methods being used in our Identify their relationship with educational philosophies.





Cohen, L. M. (1999).   Philosophical Perspectives in Education instruction/ed416/PP3.html


Sharma, R. N. (2002).   Textbook of Educational Philosophy Publisher-Kanishka Publishers, NewDelhi

Shivendra, C. S. (2006). Philosophy of Education Publisher-Atlantic Publishers & Dist, Shrivastava, K. K (2003). Philosophical Foundations of Education Kanishka Publishers,

Distributors, New Delhi.
























Written by: Dr. Rahmat Ullah Bhatti Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





Idealism is a philosophical approach that has as its central tenet that ideas are the only true reality, the only thing worth knowing. In a search for truth, beauty, and justice that is enduring and everlasting; the focus is on conscious reasoning in the mind. Plato, father of Idealism, espoused this view about 400 years BC, in his famous book, The Republic. Plato believed that there are two worlds. The first is the spiritual or mental world, which is eternal, permanent, orderly, regular, and universal. There is also the world of appearance, the world experienced through sight, touch, smell, taste, and sound, which is changing, imperfect, and disorderly. This division is often referred to as the duality of mind and body. To understand truth, one must pursue knowledge and identify with the absolute mind. In idealism, the aim of education is to discover and develop each individual’s abilities and full moral excellence in order to better serve society. The curricular emphasis is subject matter of mind: literature, history, philosophy, and religion. Teaching methods focus on handling ideas through lecture, discussion, and Socratic dialogue (a method of teaching that uses questioning to help students discover and clarify knowledge). Introspection, intuition, insight, and whole-part logic are used to bring to consciousness the forms or concepts which are latent in the mind.


The other ancient Greek philosophy is Realism. Realists believe that reality exists independent of the human mind. The ultimate reality is the world of physical objects. The focus is on the body/objects. Truth is objective-what can be observed. Aristotle, a student of Plato who broke with his mentor’s idealist philosophy, is called the father of both Realism and the scientific method. In this metaphysical view, the aim is to understand objective reality through “the diligent and unsparing scrutiny of all observable data.” Aristotle believed that to understand an object, its ultimate form had to be understood, which does not change. Aristotle also was the first to teach logic as a formal discipline in order to be able to reason about physical events and aspects. The exercise of rational thought is viewed as the ultimate purpose for humankind. The realist curriculum emphasizes the subject matter of the physical world, particularly science and mathematics. Teaching methods focus on mastery of facts and basic skills through demonstration and recitation.



After reading this unit, you will be able to:


  1. Define Idealism and


  1. Compare Idealism and


  1. Analyze curriculum on the basis of Idealism and


  1. Discuss the main tenets of Idealism and


  1. Evaluate the Role of Realism in the History of Education.





Idealism is one of the oldest schools of thought in the world of philosophy, originating inhuman nature itself, continuing from the primitive man to his present counterpart in some modified former the other. From the idealistic and point it has overtonesofspiritualitysinceitbelievesthattheultimateexistingelementisspiritualinnatu re. The entire universe is an extension of them in do soul. From the epistemological stand point it is better called Ideal ism, implying there by that thought or idea has greater validity than the physical object. From then or mativest and point it is accurately represented by the term Idealism which means that the theory attaches greater importance to ideals than of acts in this world. Obviously, the term idealism connotes different concepts when placed in various contexts. Whatever the context, the word definitely represents a particular theory in philosophy (Ornstein & Levine, 2008).


                  Chief Characteristics of Idealism

It has always been believed that idealism is the philosophic theory which is a complete contradiction of the theory known as realism. Idealism has the following characteristics:

  1. Universe subsists within the spirit or mind. According to this philosophic theory, the entire world is fundamentally of the nature of spirit or mind which accounts for its being called
  2. Mechanistic explanation of universe is inadequate. Idealists refuse to accept that the world or universe is susceptible to a mechanical explanation, or to believe that the processes of Nature can be explained on a mechanistic principle. For this reason, the idealists are opposed to all deterministic
  3. Teleological explanation of universe. Opposed to the mechanistic explanations of the universe the idealists turn to a teleological theory which holds that human life and natural processes have a common objective which both is simultaneously trying to achieve. They do not object to or reject science but for them the scientific explanation of the universe is not the last word on the subject. Their standpoint is best exemplified by the axiological
  4. Synthesis between Man and It becomes inevitable for the idealists to believe that there is harmony between the natural processes and human activity. Both Man and Nature are busy in working out a common destiny.
  5. Man is central to the universe. Idealists are also humanists from this standpoint. They believe that man, being the ultimate in spiritual existents, is central to the Human life has a universal and omniscient importance or value. And in man’s ultimate good lies the final objective of the universe. It is in man that mind, the spiritual element underlying the entire universe, realizes its essential and purest nature.
  6. Special attention to the normative and social sciences. Opposed to the realists and the materialists, the spiritualists or idealists do not accept the scientific explanation of the universe, based on scientific They prefer the assistance of the normative and the social sciences in their own scheme of the universe. Ethics, aesthetics and logic make up the three normative sciences while the chief among the social sciences are psychology and sociology. The idealistic explanation of the universe makes greater use of psychology, ethics, logic, aesthetics, etc., than of




chemistry, physics, mathematics and the rest of the natural sciences. It is only natural for such an explanation to be completely opposed to the materialistic or naturalistic explanation of the universe.

  1. Evaluative explanation of the universe. In other words, the idealists profess an evaluative explanation of the universe and of human life, which is what makes them idealists. It should be kept in mind that the term idealists do not imply the vague-minded dreamer or imaginative visionary. The idealist does not reject the assistance of the natural sciences in comprehending the universe but he does not accept such natural facts to be the be all and end all of human life. His notion comprehends the realization of truth, beauty and goodness in human life.
  2. In the field of epistemology, the idealist is better called a conceptualist since he believes that the object has no existence apart from its concept. In professing this view the idealist propounds a theory completely at variance with the realist conception of the problem. He believes that the object and its qualities do not have any existence independent of the conception of them. Knowledge influences them. Knowledge of an object occurs not directly but indirectly, through the medium of thought. Objects are not public, since they change with the viewpoint from which they are observed. An object has no existence apart from the thought of it. Existence lies in being related to consciousness.
  3. Universe is knowledge. The idealists hold that the universe can be known through the medium of reason or mind since both mind and the universe are invested with an identical spiritual element. Hegel goes so far as to establish an identity between mind and Nature by positing that mental categories coincide with stages in the development of the universe. Whatever the minor differences among them, all idealists hold that the universe is knowable.
  4. Emphasis on the mental or spiritual aspect of Another important characteristic of the idealist thought is that it emphasizes the mental or spiritual aspects of the universe without nullifying or completely rejecting materialistic explanations of it. It is this higher aspect which conveys some meaning to the lower or material aspect. And everywhere the lower can be explained in terms of the higher. The naturalists or materialists reverse this by explaining the higher in terms of the lower. Idealism opposes this process (Shrivastava, 2003).


                  Types of Idealism

Generally speaking, there are many varieties of idealism in vogue but the more prominent ones can be conveniently listed as follows:

  1. Subjective This particular species of idealism is to be found in the thought of Berkeley, the British philosopher in the tradition of empiricism. It is termed subjective since it holds that all objects of knowledge are subjective in as much that they depend upon the mind. It is equivalent to a conceptual theory since it also holds that the universe is composed of either minds alone or of minds and their ideas, nothing else besides. According to Berkeley, existence lies in perception, meaning thereby that a thing exists only when it is the subject of perception. Anything which cannot be the subject of mind cannot exist. He does




not imply thereby that the object must be a subject of only a mind, but of any mind that exists in the universe. It is also difficult to have an infinite number of thoughts in one mind which is finite; they can exist only in an infinite mind, and this mind is God. Subjective idealism also holds that the qualities of an object have existence as elements in perception, not otherwise. Images depend upon the human mind while objects have their existence since they are perceived by God. Objects correspond to the knowledge of them while knowledge corresponds to the objects. Knowledge is direct awareness of the object. Objects are not public.

  1. This particular form of idealism was propounded by Kant the German philosopher. Kant’s first discovery concerned the limits of man’s knowledge, and it led him to the conclusion that the only knowledge that is possible to man is knowledge of the phenomenon. From this hypothesis he proceeded to argue that objects are phenomenal, that their existence as well as the existence of their qualities depends upon their being known. An object is just as it appears to being its phenomenal appearance. There is direct knowledge of the phenomenal object, and this knowledge depends upon the construction of the mind. We can never know the thing-in-itself, or what is otherwise called the Noumenal reality. Therefore, this kind of reasoning leads subjective idealism to a kind of scepticism. This type of idealism finds its greatest difficulties in the duality it has posited between phenomenal and noumenal reality, object and its sensations and their classes, and between the mind and its categories of thought. Hegel is the most important thinker of all those who indulged in the effort of trying to resolve this dualism.
  2. Objective Idealism. The Hegelian form of idealism is also known as objective According to Hegel the ultimate reality is the absolute eternal substance, outside which nothing can and does exist. If he believed this, then obviously his thought resembled the subjective idealism of Berkeley. But his idealism is given a different designation for he combines it with a touch of realism. He believed that although objects are not independent of the mind they are real and not dependent upon the finite mind. He accepts the independent existence of objects that is independent of the finite mind. Hence the name objective idealism. Deviating from the dualism between phenomenal and noumenal reality created by Kant, Hegel believes that objects are just what they appear to be although the perception of them changes along with the change in our knowledge of them. The existence of objects does depend upon knowledge and so does the existence of their qualities. The nature or form of objects is determined by knowledge, which is direct. This knowledge of objects is private and personal rather than public because they are the subjects of individual and private minds, not limited by another mind. The Absolute is the ultimate subject, within which all the limited objects are mutually related. From the standpoint of the Absolute all knowledge is subjective but from man’s standpoint it is objective. Hegel, therefore, represents the line of objective idealists.


                  Idealism in Education

Ever since knowledge dawned in human mind man has been thinking about problems ontological, epistemological, eschatological and axiological. The questions of philosophy in the beginning of human knowledge were everywhere mixed with psychological




problems. Thus, psychology in the beginning was concerned with the nature of the mind and the processes of consciousness. As men lived in small groups and the society was generally confined to a particular village, city or group of villages, the solutions offered were simple. There was hardly any distinction between social and political problems as the political institutions were developed as a means to social welfare. Therefore, most of the ancient thinkers did not distinguish between social philosophy and political philosophy. As the life was simple and social stratification and differentiation was not complex the thinkers offered solutions working in more than one field of knowledge. Most of the thinkers were teachers and men of education who used to pass their life completely free from worldly affairs. The state and the society generally extended support to these scholars and they were generally respected and followed. The job of instruction and education of the younger generation was generally entrusted to these men of letters. The state supported finance but not interfered in the process of education. These great teachers formed their own personal institutions where their disciples collected to hear their learned discourses and learn through their lives. In this way, society was generally governed by the teachings of these great scholars though the administrative machinery was almost everywhere in the hands of the state.


                  Aims and Ideals of Education

Idealism has influenced every sphere of education. In the first place we will glance at the impact of idealism on the aims of education. Since idealism believes human personality to be the most important, it wants education to aim at the development of human personality culminating in self-realization. In the words of Home, “The end of ends, the goal of goals, according to Idealism, is the increasing realization of the Absolute Idea for the individual, society and the race”. Further explaining this aim of education, Rusk has commented, “We may accept that the aim of education is the enhancement or enrichment of personality, the differentiating feature of which is the embodiment of universal values”.1 These universal values are expressed as the beauty, goodness and truth, and the aim of education is to concretise these values in the child’s life. Thus the idealists cherish the following aims and ideals of education:

  1. Development of personality. As has been already pointed out, the most important aim of education, according to the idealist thinkers, both ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, is the development of personality. This has been called man- making by Vivekananda. Explaining this ideal of education, Herman Harell Home says, “The forces that make men and women I find to be heredity, environment and Education is not a fourth elemental force, but it does its work in cooperation with these three. Education, through public-opinion influences and may come to control, the force of heredity, it is itself a part of the physical and social environment; it assists in the formation of will. By consciously directing, through education and otherwise, these forces shall in time have the true superman of our modern dreams, as well as the ideal people of Plato’s Republic. But unlike Plato and Shaw, we shall have to work through, not without, the family as an institution.”
  2. The idealists believe that man is God’s finest and ultimate creation. That is why development of the human personality has been accepted as the aim of education, and stress has been laid on the teaching of humanitarian subjects such a literature,




art, religion, ethics, etc. Through education the cultural and social heritage of the community must be maintained and transmitted to the following generations. Some other idealists believe that the aim of education is to guide the individual to self- realization, for this also includes the development of the personality. Such development, in fact, is the development of those divine qualities which are inherent in human beings but which are dormant at his birth. The educator’s task is to manifest these qualities. And for this reason every human being has an equal right to education.

  1. Self-realisation. As has been already pointed out, according to idealists the aim of education is self-realisation. This is the individualist aim of education emphasised by the
  2. Development of will Self-realisation requires development of will power.

H.H. Home has given eight points for the realisation of this ideal:

  • The training of the will should be indirect by activity rather than
  • The object lesson method according to time and context should be
  • The power of will should be increased by self-suggestion, knowledge and
  • Practice is the only way to acquire will power.
  • Proper discipline leads to will
  • The educands should be acquainted of facts concerning nature and
  • Development of moral character by ethical
  • Freedom to make choice in most of the matters concerning the


  1. Synthesis of Man and Another aspect of the idealistic conception of education is the synthesis between nature and human beings. Adams has suggested that education must aim at achieving an understanding of nature in human beings and educating them to achieve harmony with it. This can be done by acquainting the educated with the permanent laws which guide and control natural phenomena. These laws of nature are the causes of all natural activity. Only through such knowledge can the educand arrive at a harmony with all that lies around him.
  2. Cultural Development. Greatest significance is attached to the cultural environment created by religion, morality, art, literature, mathematics, science, etc. That is why the idealist tendency is to stress the teaching of humanities so that the cultural and social heritage is maintained intact and allowed to Education is also concerned with enabling the individual to make his own contribution to the cultural development of the community. The ideals of beauty, goodness and truth are the spiritual ideals of the human race, and the child has to be trained to achieve them in reality. Education must transform the child into a true human being by educating him to manifest the divine qualities which are invested in him. The idealists argue that there is system in every part of the universe, and hence the individual must also be taught to create some system in his life through intellectual and spiritual guidance. For this it is essential to develop every aspect of his life—the physical, moral, ethical, intellectual, spiritual and the aesthetic. Failure to develop any one of these would create an imbalance in the individual’s personality. In the words of Froebel, “The object of education is the realisation of a faithful, pure, inviolable




and hence holy life. Education should lead and guide man to clearness concerning himself, and in himself, to face with nature, and to unity with God”.

  1. Exploration of Universal Idealism places more emphasis upon more universal objects of education. Ross puts it thus, “The function of education is to help us in our exploration of the ultimate universal values so that the truth of the universe may become our truth and give power to our life. Education must aim at adapting not only to the physical environment but to every kind of environment.”3 Rusk points out, “The purpose of education is to enable the child to reconcile himself to reality in all its manifestations, not merely to adapt himself to a natural environment”. From among all these various kinds of environment, the cultural environment is considered to be the most important because man’s cultural characteristics are his most distinctive qualities.


                  Idealism and Curriculum

Explaining the idealist bases of curriculum as the imparting of spiritual and cultural heritage to the child along with his self and personality development, Herman H. Horne writes, “It is better to centre education in ideals for children and the race rather than in children themselves. After all children are immature, dependent and plastic members of the race. They are often irrational in their individuality.” As Socrates said in effect to the sophists, “Not man but reason is the measure of all things, not individuality but universality, not percepts, but concepts. Ideals are the norms for all human experience, including that of children. After all, it is still true that obedience to just law is a virtue, that following physical laws leads to health, that truth is something to be discovered, rather than made, that conformity is a large element even in creativity, that repression is a necessary phase of expression. Under the influence of paidocentrism (what a hybrid), self-expression may easily become self-explosion.”


Idealists insist on emphasis being placed on the study of humanities such as literature, art, religion, morality, etc., along with the teaching of science. All the elements necessary for attaining God are included in the curriculum suggested by idealistic followers of Plato, who laid down that education must aim to realize the ideals of truth, beauty and goodness. Hence, he has suggested the inclusion of all those subjects or disciplines which help in the realization of these ideals. Most significant among man’s activities are the intellectual, the aesthetic and the moral. The teaching of language, literature, history, geography, mathematics and science will encourage intellectual activity while the aesthetic impulse can be reinforced through art and poetry. Moral activities can be taught and instilled in the educand through the teaching of religion, ethics, etc. This curriculum is determined on the basis of the goals to be realized through education and by the criterion that it must reflect the experience, culture and glory of the human race. Man’s experiences relate not only to his physical or natural environment but also to his social experiences, knowledge of which can be obtained through a study of the natural and the social sciences.


James Ross, the educationist, has classified human activity in two groups—physical actions and spiritual activity. Physical activity includes the entire range of actions relating




to bodily welfare and to motor skills. The teaching of these must also be a part of education and they can be taught through physiology, exercise, medicine, hygiene, etc. Spiritual activity comprehends all intellectual, ethical, aesthetic and religious activity, all of which can be taught through history, geography, science, mathematics, language, ethics, art and religion. Herbart, the idealist philosopher of education, grants these subjects the main place in the curriculum because these subjects can contribute more than any other to the spiritual progress of man. But this is the shortcoming of the idealistic philosophy because it does not attach any significance to the teaching of science. Herbart points out that the part that literature and history can play in the spiritual development of man, cannot be played by science.


For that reason, scientific subjects such as the natural sciences, mathematics and even history and geography are granted a secondary role.


T.P. Nunn, another educationist, has glanced at the idealistic conception of the educational curriculum, and has remarked, “The school is to consolidate the nation’s spiritual strength, to maintain its historic continuity, to secure its achievements, and to guarantee its future”.4 In order to achieve all these goals, education in the school should consider two kinds of activities. In the first group fall such activities which create conditions by which the individual and social life is ensured and maintained, and this can be done through physical health, customs, social organisations, ethical conduct, etiquette, religion, etc. Education must provide opportunities, therefore, for physical training, ethics, religion, etc. The second group of activities is the one which is more important outside the sphere of the school. In this group lie those activities which maintain the cultural life of the community because they are creative. In order to evolve skills for such activities, educationists advocate teaching of literature, art, music, various kinds of handicrafts and manual skills, sciences, mathematics, history, etc. Hence the curriculum must be so designed that it can help to acquaint the individual with his social and cultural heritage and also to enable him to make some positive contribution to this heritage. Nunn writes, “In the school curriculum all these activities should be represented. For these are the grand expression of the human spirit, and theirs are the forms in which the creative energies of every generation must be disciplined if the movement of civilization is to be worthily maintained.”5


                  Idealism and the Educator

Idealistic pattern of education grants the highest place to the educator, and conceives of the educator and educand as two parts of an organic plan. The educator creates a specific environment for the educand’s development and provides guidance so that the latter may progress towards perfection and a rounded personality. The most precise explanation of the educator’s role is manifested in Froebel’s kindergarten pattern of education, in which the school is treated as a garden, the educand as a delicate plant which requires nurturing and the educator as the cautious gardener. Although even in the absence of the gardener the plant will continue to grow and will inevitably follow the laws governing its nature, the gardener has a certain significance in that he has the skill to develop plants. He may be unable to change a rose into a cabbage, but he certainly can contribute his mite to the




plant’s development. His efforts help in achieving perfection in this development, a level of perfection which would otherwise have been impossible. The educator plays a parallel role in the school. He can guide the educand appropriately because he knows the rules which govern the latter’s development. Through his guidance he can make this natural development into a process leading to perfection and beauty. Ross explains, “The naturalist may be content with briars, but the idealist wants fine developing according to the laws of nature, to attain levels that would otherwise be denied to him”.6 Clearly, the idealists attach much more value to the educator than do the naturalists. Adams opined that both the educator and the educand are two parts of the intellectual universe both of which should be considered equally important. The educator inspires the educand to realize the ideals of truth, goodness and beauty, and guides him along the path to its realization.


                  Idealism and Educational Methods

Turning to methodology in education, idealists suggest that the method must be oriented to achieving the complete development of all the innate abilities of the child and to train him for self-realization. In Rivers’ words, “The process of education in childhood consists, or should consist, in the direction of innate or instinctive tendencies towards an end in harmony with the highest good of society of which the child is an active member. Idealists believe in a harmony between individual and social objectives The child must be provided with a liberal environment for his development and his education should be related to present experience. One finds, therefore, that many elements of the idealist methodology are common with those of the naturalist, realist and pragmatist methodology.


The idealist methodology in education lays special stress on the three following processes:

  1. The term instruction as used here implies educational instruction which is believed by Herbart to be essential to education. But instruction does not mean that the child’s mind should be stuffed with various scraps of information. It implies a modification and a refinement of the child’s mind. For this it is essential that the educator must provide sympathetic guidance. The idealists believe that training of all kinds must be provided in the school.
  2. Like the naturalist methodology, the educational methods recommended by the idealists also are based on activity. The child must learn through doing. Although the child can learn much by asking questions after lectures in the school, creative activity is much more important. This creative activity should be natural, continuous and progressive. This helps in moving towards self-realization, because it encourages the child to manifest his innate tendencies. Through mental activity the child learns cheerfully and happily and this also helps in the development of his personality. Besides, by these means the child learns rapidly. Hence, idealists also stress that instruction should be active.
  3. Idealist methodology also places considerable stress on experience. Every educand must base all his education on his own experience. The educator’s task is not to stuff his own experience in the educand’s mind but to provide the latter some insight into his own experience. The guidance given by the educator




helps to manifest many frustrated and repressed tendencies and drives of the educand. Independence is an essential pre-requisite for experience. For this reason, idealists believe freedom to be an essential part of education but it must be remembered that this freedom is not absolute, but controlled and guided.


It is evident from the foregoing account that idealists believe the experiences of both the educator and the educand to be of great importance. Both of them should be active and they should indulge in the mutual exchange of experience so that they can progress. The teaching method should be such that the child should recognise it as a mode of self- instruction.


                  Idealism and Discipline

Discipline is a part of the question concerning educational methods and some people feel that idealists are in complete opposition to the naturalists for the latter believe in complete freedom while the former insist on discipline. The only grain of truth in this assumption in that idealists stress the value of discipline as part of the educative process, without, in any way, detracting from the importance of freedom and liberty. In fact, idealists interpret discipline as being based on independence and they try to harmonize the two. Rigorous discipline is never accepted by the idealists. Discipline must always take the shape of self-discipline, because only then can it guide the educand along the path of self-realization. Education basically aims at training the child in true independence. It is argued that the child is not independent at birth. This independence is granted to him or acquired by him in the process of education because, in the absence of education, there is no self-realisation, and without self-realization there is no independence. Rousseau believed that the individual was born free but that later on he is bound in chains. On the contrary, Froebel expressed the conviction that man is born in chains, and that he has to steadily win this freedom for himself, for, no one can grant it to him. Independence is not a divine gift, because even God cannot give independence. True independence can be won only by oneself, by one’s own acts. Through the medium of education, the individual can break the chains which bind him at birth. The educator must develop in his educands the capability of reasoning and arriving at a decision by the use of which the educand can achieve his own development, naturally and by his own inspiration. Independence lies not in a revolt against the environment but in achieving harmony with it. Hence, the child must be trained for independence in the school. He should be taught to discipline himself and to contribute to the disciplined behaviour of others, besides himself. Through a steady development of this kind, the individual becomes the member of a group of self-disciplined individuals. It can thus be concluded that the idealists do not favour the notion of allowing the child to roam free of any restraint but prefer to guide his freedom. For this reason, the child’s activities are controlled in the school. Physical punishment and external restraints are not the methods of achieving this. It is better realized through developing such qualities as self- resignation, obedience, humanity, politeness, etc. Once these qualities are evolved in the individual, he achieves a stage of self-discipline. Froebel denies any importance to any system of punishment. Instead, he believes that it is better to encourage self-control and self-guidance in the child through sympathy. He believes that the child should not be




submitted to any external pressure. It is only through discipline that the child can realize the ideals of education, and once it has understood this, it can discipline itself. Idealists, therefore, believe in the efficacy of discipline through influence and impression, not through fear and coercion. But, discipline can be created among the educands only when the educators themselves create and present good models of discipline. Their own conduct and behaviour should be conditioned by a knowledge of the child’s interests and inclinations. In their own behaviour, they must present the highest ideal of self-discipline, for only then can any discipline be expected from the educand. Idealists have criticized the establishment of discipline through threats, repression and punishment. They believe that the entire natural, social and spiritual environment in which the child lives should be fashioned in such a way that it should encourage the desire for self-discipline in the child. Plato believed that the child in the school is restrained with the intention that he may be granted greater liberty gradually as he develops higher. As the individual develops to a level of higher responsibility, he should be granted successively more liberty.


                  Idealism in Contemporary Education

Though idealism may have been very much left aside in the contemporary field of education, it is undoubtedly the most ancient school which has influenced education throughout its history. Even now the following points may be noted concerning the influence of idealism in the contemporary field of education.

  1. Wider and higher aims. As the nationalist aims of education are giving place to humanist aim, idealism has become more relevant to the modern educationist. The idealists present the highest and the widest aims and ideals of education summed up in such terms as self-realisation, man-making, development of personality, harmony of man and nature, realisation of truth, goodness and beauty and realisation of heaven upon All these aims have been emphasised by contemporary philosophers of education in East and West.
  2. The ideal teacher. In this age of science, the model of ideal teacher is still presented by idealism. Whatever may be said about the need of practical education and the utilization of scientific means, no teacher can influence the educands without some sort of Teaching involves communication which very much depends upon rapport between the teacher and the taught. This is possible only when the teacher considers the taught as a part of his self and thus becomes selfless in his profession. The ideal of character building cannot be achieved unless the teacher himself presents the model of ideal character.
  3. Integrated and multisided While other systems of philosophy of education lay emphasis upon science and technology, the idealists point out the eternal value of humanities, social sciences, art and literature. In fact, they lay emphasis upon an integrated curriculum which may include every branch of knowledge. Thus the idealist curriculum is the most liberal, the most dynamic, the most multisided and therefore, most conducive to the cultural development of the individual and society.
  4. Moral education. Thinkers everywhere today lament at the general loss of moral Everywhere development of moral character is being considered as an urgent need, to save the world from future catastrophe. The idealists explain the aims and means of moral education.




  1. Self-discipline. The idealist concept of freedom as self-discipline has come to stay. It prescribes central place to the child in the system of education and lays emphasis upon natural Natural development requires freedom but freedom cannot be enjoyed without self-discipline. Contemporary educationists unanimously accept the need of freedom and discipline and agree that self- discipline is the only way for proper development.
  2. Psychological methods. Even the pragmatists agree that some sort of idealism is necessary for teaching, particularly that of humanities, art and The idealists include instruction, activity and experience in their methods of teaching. The idealist method of teaching is most effective in religious and moral teaching. It is a solid ground for character building and realisation of intimate relations between the teacher and the taught.


In spite of the abovementioned contribution of idealism to education, today it is more and more being left in the background while pragmatism and realism are coming to the front. This is due to the following disadvantages of the idealist philosophy of education:

  1. Utopian aims. Plato, the first idealist philosopher of education, presented a scheme which was through and through Utopian in spite of its deep insight into human life here and there. In fact, in his idealistic flight the thinker often leaves the solid ground and presents aims and ideals which can be neither realised nor
  2. Theoretical methods. The idealist method of teaching makes too much of memory, personal contact and brain faculties. They lay less emphasis upon the development of various types of interests and abilities which help the educand in playing important role in society.
  3. Lack of specialization. The idealist curriculum is too wide and lacks specialisation which is a growing demand of modern education.
  4. Neglect of science and technology. The idealist thinkers have laid emphasis upon culture in education and neglected science and technology. Therefore, today most of the educational institutions have rejected idealistic
  5. Teacher-centred. While modern education is child-centred or educand-centred, the idealist system is teacher-centred. By expecting too much from the teacher it does not allow him to live as a human being with a multisided personality. Too much expectation from the teacher ultimately results in his criticism by the students and The role of teacher today is very much different from his role in ancient times. Education today is a life-long but limited part of life. It goes on even without the teacher. Various audiovisual means are replacing the all-important role of the teacher. Therefore, neither the modern teacher nor the taught accept the ancient idealist concept and status of the teacher.


From the perusal of the above mentioned advantages and disadvantages of the idealist philosophy of education it is clear that though some sort of idealism must stay in every field of education, the aims and ideals, the methods, the curriculum and the school management, etc., the ideal of education cannot be realised without the help of naturalism, pragmatism and realism( Sharma,2002).





Realism is the theory that holds that the existence of objects is real. For this reason, it is also sometimes called objectivism. Both realism and objectivism are metaphysical theories concerned with the existence of things. In epistemology realism holds that in the process of knowledge things are independent of the existence and influence of the knower. Hence the main tenet of this theory in the epistemological field is that object and its qualities are independent of and uninfluenced by the knower and the process of knowledge (Ornstein& Levine, 2008).


                  The Chief Tenets of Realism

As a general rule the chief tenets of realism are the following:

  1. Existence of objects is independent of knowledge. According to the native realists objects exist irrespective of our knowledge of them. Scientific realism accepts this notion but according to it thoughts concerning the objects are based on the mind.
  2. Qualities are inherent in known objects. According to the naive realist the qualities that are experienced in the objects are part and parcel of the object while the scientific realist distinguishes between primary and secondary qualities, maintaining that primary qualities belong to the object while the secondary are attributed to the object by the mind in the process of knowing.
  3. Knowledge does not affect the object or its qualities. According to the naive realist the object or its qualities do not suffer by becoming the subjects of knowledge but according to the scientific realist this theory does not hold true for secondary
  4. Knowledge of objects is direct. According to the naive realist, knowledge of the objects is direct and perceptual. According to representationism, this is true of simple thoughts, for in complex thought knowledge is indirect since complex thoughts are compounded of simple ones.
  5. Objects are common. According to the analytical realists objects are common while according to the representationists objects are commonly available only for the purposes of primary or elementary thought. Scientific realism holds that the same object may be experienced different by different
  6. Relation between object and thought. Naive realism holds that there is relation between object and its thought, but the scientific realist rejects this theory (Shrivastava, 2003).

                  Types of Realism

The main types of realism are the following:

  1. Naive This is propounded by common sense according to which objects are independent of mind whether they are known or not. Object possesses its own qualities. Knowledge does not affect the object. The object is precisely what it is seen to be. Objects are known directly and objects are common for all.
  2. This theory is the product of Locke’s mind. It states that the object’s existence is independent of knowledge but metaphysical thought depends upon the mind. Primary, objective, individual and secondary qualities are inherent in the object. Knowledge does not impress upon the object but it can influence metaphysical thought. Thoughts are the representations of objects. Knowledge of




objects is direct in the case of simple thoughts but indirect in the case of complex ones. In simple thoughts objects are common or universal but not so in complex thinking.

  1. Neo-Realism. This is a novel approach to the Platonic theory of reality. In this theory it is believed that the total object is not the subject of knowledge but its aspects are, and they are independent of knowledge. The qualities of the object are its own and knowledge does not affect them. An object is what it is manifestly seen to be. Knowledge of the aspects of an object is direct while logical entities are
  2. Critical Realism. The theory was first propounded in America at the turn of the century and is critical in nature. It also believes that the existence of objects does not depend upon knowledge in any way. The object is possessed of qualities and is directly known. Objects may or may not be universal. Critical realism does not hold that the object is previously what it is seen to be or that it is seen to be exactly what it When the object becomes object of knowledge it is influenced by knowledge. Knowledge can be direct as well as indirect. The relation between the knower and known is not direct but takes place through the medium of thought, which is the subject matter of knowledge. Different people can have different knowledge of an identical object.


These different theories of realism have been arranged in order of their historical appearance and none of them has been found to satisfy completely. Each and every one has been objected to and found wanting in some respect.


                  Comparison of Idealism and Realism

In the varied fields of epistemology, metaphysics and evolution, idealism and realism present two almost completely differing theories. They differ in the following respects:

  1. Difference in epistemology. Idealism and realism differ in the following respects on the various questions of epistemology:
    • According to idealism objects have no existence apart from their ideas, while according to realism, objects have an existence independent of any knowledge of
    • Idealism maintains that qualities are imposed on the object by the mind while realism holds that qualities are a part of the object.
    • The idealistic tenet is mat knowledge influences the object and its qualities while the realist theory is that objects cannot be affected in this way.
    • According to idealism objects are known indirectly through the medium of their ideas but realism holds that objects are known directly.
    • In idealism it is believed that different objects appear differently to different people but in realism it is believed that objects are universal.
  2. According to idealism objects are not what they appear to be since their knowledge is indirect but realism maintains that objects are precisely what they appear to be.
    • According to idealism objects have no existence apart from their ideas, while according to realism, objects have an existence independent of any knowledge of




  • Idealism maintains that qualities are imposed on the object by the mind while realism holds that qualities are a part of the object.
  • The idealistic tenet is mat knowledge influences the object and its qualities while the realist theory is that objects cannot be affected in this way.
  • According to idealism objects are known indirectly through the medium of their ideas but realism holds that objects are known directly.
  • In idealism it is believed that different objects appear differently to different people but in realism it is believed that objects are universal.
  1. According to idealism objects are not what they appear to be since their knowledge is indirect but realism maintains that objects are precisely what they appear to
    • According to idealism objects have no existence apart from their ideas, while according to realism, objects have an existence independent of any knowledge of
    • Idealism maintains that qualities are imposed on the object by the mind while realism holds that qualities are a part of the object.
    • The idealistic tenet is mat knowledge influences the object and its qualities while the realist theory is that objects cannot be affected in this way.
    • According to idealism objects are known indirectly through the medium of their ideas but realism holds that objects are known directly.
    • In idealism it is believed that different objects appear differently to different people but in realism it is believed that objects are universal.
    • According to idealism objects are not what they appear to be since their knowledge is indirect but realism maintains that objects are precisely what they appear to be.
  2. Metaphysical Differences. From the metaphysical standpoint realism and idealism differ in the following respects:
    • According to the idealists the universe exists within the mind while the realists are of the opinion that the natural world is independent of the
    • The idealists believe in some kind of synthesis between man and nature while the realists deny the existence of any such
    • Idealism states that man is the centre of the universe while realism does not attach the same importance to man with reference to universe.
    • Idealists are idealistic while the realists are
  3. Difference on Realism and idealism differ in the following respects on questions regarding cosmology:
    • According to idealism the mechanistic explanation of the universe is not adequate while realists propound this mechanistic
    • Idealism holds that creation of the universe is teleological while the realists do not believe in there being any purpose in
    • In explaining creation the idealists lay the stress on normative and social sciences while the realists rely more heavily on the natural sciences in their explanation of creation.
    • Idealism puts forth a value judgment of the creation while realism is more factual in this analysis.




  • According to the idealists the world is known through the mind while realists do not attach so much importance to the mind in understanding the
  • Idealism stresses the mental and spiritual in its explanation of the world and realism the material and physical.


From the above analysis of idealism and realism it should be fairly obvious that the two theories are almost contradictory and mutually exclusive. In evaluating the two it must be said that idealism seems more appropriate for understanding the values of human life, which is, in fact, the aim of all our knowledge and science. A more comprehensive standpoint, on the other hand, will make it clear that both idealism and realism view the universe from different standpoint, and hence the difference in their respective metaphysics, epistemology and cosmology. To a liberal, dynamic philosopher with broad vision the two will appear to be complementary. In their respective ways both show glimpses of truth and according to one’s standpoint one may be as satisfied with one as one may be with the other. It depends on one’s mental make-up as to which will appeal to one. Nevertheless, it must be said that idealism, on the whole, is a philosophy that is more mature, refined, optimistic, comprehensive and it elevates the lot of mankind. Nothing can be gained denigrating realism but there can be no denying superiority of idealism.


                  Realism in Education

The following may be considered landmarks in the field of realistic thinking in education:

  1. Erasmus (1446-1537). According to Erasmus knowledge is of two kinds: Object knowledge and world knowledge. Of these the world knowledge comes first and then comes object knowledge. However, object knowledge is more important than world knowledge. In the curriculum Greek, Latin and Grammar should be taught first of all. This helps in gaining proper object knowledge after which teaching in other subjects may be started.
  2. Rabelais (1483-1533). Rabelais supported social, moral, religious and physical education in place of classical, linguistic and literary education. He pleaded for free According to him books should be not only mastered but also practised. The teaching should be made interesting. This is also true in physical education. The aim of education is to make practical life better.
  3. John Milton (1608-1674). Milton’s philosophy of education is available in his book entitled, Tractate on Education. According to Milton the aim of education is to know God, to love Him and to be one with Him. Milton presented a plan of education for the child from 12 to 21 years of age. First of all, Latin, Grammar, Arithmetic, Geometry and morality should be taught. After it education may be imparted in agriculture, physiology, handicraft, natural philosophy, geography, etc. Poetry, literature, languages, economics, politics, history, etc., may be taught as supplementary Milton gives more importance to ideas than words, to practical efficiency than ostentatious achievements. He defined education in these words, “I call, therefore, a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skillfully and magnanimously all the offices, both private and public of peace and war”.




  1. Michael de Montaigne (1533-1592). Montaigne represented socialistic realism which aimed at making child a worldly Socialistic realism supported utilitarian viewpoint in education. It criticised bookish knowledge and supported the idea to make knowledge practical. Montaigne was a humanist and a naturalist. He was a realist and a socialist. In fact, he was a socialistic realist. The aim of knowledge, according to him, is to enhance knowledge and reasoning power. Nothing should be admitted without understanding. It is improper to take abnormal interest in goods. Knowledge must be practical. The child should be trained for worldly activities. Virtues should be created since these are the bases of enjoyment of the world. The function of philosophy is not only to tell about thinking but about the livelihood. It gives us a knowledge of virtues. Moral knowledge should be gathered from the biographies of great persons.
  2. Richard Mulcaster (1531-1621). Mulcaster represented sensuous or empirical According to empirical realism real education emphasizes training of senses and not the memory. Education is a natural process and should be based in nature. Philosophy of education should be scientific and not imaginary. Word knowledge should follow the perception of the object. New practical ways should be adopted. According to Mulcaster the aim of education is to develop physical and mental power. Child is the centre of education. Mother tongue should be the medium of education. The teachers should have a sound knowledge of the method of teaching.
  3. Francis Bacon (1561-1626). Bacon was also a supporter of empirical realism. He condemned bookish education and tried to make it practical. According to him practical knowledge may be gained through the study of Nature. Subjects such as philosophy, literature and language should be considered secondary. Knowledge can be gained by inductive method. This is particularly true in the field of science. Bacon is known as a great supporter of the inductive method in
  4. Ratke (1571-1635). Ratke was also a supporter of empirical realism. He favoured education through mother tongue. He maintained that one thing should be taught at one

Teaching should be done in free environment. Learning should be discouraged.

Object knowledge should be acquired by direct experience and experiment.

  1. Comenius (1592-1670). Comenius presented far more clear ideas than other realist He laid emphasis upon mother tongue, graded curriculum, suitable textbooks, practical application of teaching and four stages of educational structure.
  2. Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841). The aim of education according to Herbart, is the multisided development of interests. The child should be made interested in his social The aim of education is character development. This, however, cannot be achieved by preaching but by presenting moral example before the children.
  3. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903). Herbert Spencer was a naturalist as well as a realist. Complete living is the aim of education and also the aim of life. This may be realised by doing the following activities:
    1. Self-preservation, e., care of health.
    2. Earning a living (Preparation for vocation).




  1. Fulfilling duties regarding race-preservation.
  2. Fulfilling duties of a
  3. Utilization of


All these activities should be done scientifically.


                  Aims of Education

The realistic aim of education is a happy and integrated life. According to the American educationist Franklin Bobit, happiness in life may be achieved by fulfillment of human responsibilities and obligations such as:

  1. Activities concerned with language,
  2. Activities concerned with hygiene,
  3. Citizenship activities,
  4. Ordinary social activities,
  5. Leisure activities,
  6. Activities of mental health,
  7. Religious activities,
  8. Activities concerning race-preservation,
  9. Vocational behaviour activities,
  10. Vocational


The child should be provided complete knowledge of society. He should know the social circumstances, social organisation and natural environment. Learning is the art of leading practical life. This requires scientific attitude. Scientific attitude is a rational attitude. It is objective and sensuous. The aim of education is to enable the child to acquire knowledge of definite and real objects and to analyse it through reason.


In the sphere of education, realism made its appearance as the revolt against theoretical and verbal education. From the earliest ages educationists have been trying to relate education to the social and natural environment, but very often this truth was forgotten and the process of education was allowed to become very theoretical and merely verbal. At all such times, realism has appeared as the reaction to this tendency. At the root of realism were two factors—the disutility of ancient and medieval ideals, and the development of the scientific tendency. By the sixteenth century an awareness had broken upon men and ancient ideas could not satisfy their needs because they were impractical. In Europe, during the Renaissance, there was a reaction to old Monasticism and Scholasticism. It came to be believed that men must aim at evolving humane qualities, and for this it was felt that a study of the literature in Greek and Latin was essential. After the Renaissance, the next tendency which became prominent was Humanism in which the Greek and Latin literatures came to be called humanistic because of their unique contribution to the progress of mankind. Individuals in favour of these literatures came to be called Humanists and their ideas on education gave rise to the concept of Humanitarian education.




But very soon it was realised that the only thing which could be derived from Greek and Roman literature was a definite style and grammar. When Cicero’s style became the object and aim of education, humanitarian education was converted to Ciceroism. An unnecessary emphasis upon the study of dead languages and bookish language within the school drew education far away from real life, and bore little relation to the life outside it.


After the period of humanism came the period of Reformation. This, too did not go beyond obeying a set of rules and concepts, but it gave a tremendous fillip to research by showing a deep inclination towards reason and intelligence which encouraged free thinking. It was the unprecedented growth of science. A revolution in the sphere of knowledge was created by the researches of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Harvey, Bacon and others. In this manner, realism came into existence as the result of the growth of science and an inclination to search for the truth. According to the realists, education should be made to conform to the social and individual needs of the child so that he may lead a happy and contented life in the future. Whatever the other ideals of education, its primary purpose was to prepare the child for real life, and the criterion of successful education lay in its ability to prepare the child for adult life. One of the major problems which the individual has to face in adult life is the problem of earning one’s livelihood. Hence, education must take care that it enables a man to earn his livelihood. And when the emphasis came to be laid on livelihood, it was only natural that the realist pattern of education should stress the need for teaching scientific subjects rather than artistic or literary subjects. In this, efforts are made to harmonise the child’s education with real life. The environment of the school should be such that it creates qualities which are required in the life outside the school. Ancient and medieval education was both bookish and exclusively mental. According to the realists, the first function of education was to develop the qualities of determination, reason and intelligence so that he should facilely solve the problems of life. For this reason realists favour the empirical methods of teaching in which all education is done through actual experience. The realist thinkers also favour education through the medium of the mother tongue through the medium of demonstrations, tours and actual experiments. This brings education nearer to life, and also stimulates the use of one’s own intelligence instead of making demands only upon the educand’s memory. In this manner, it can be concluded that the realists want education to keep in mind the social and individual needs of the educands.



According to the realists the child should be allowed to choose subjects according to his ability from detailed curriculum. He should be taught what is useful in his life. Learning according to one’s abilities results in success in practical life. Subjects should be related to one another. They should be planned according to the needs of the society. Education should enable the student to adjust to changing social circumstances. Phrases such as, ‘knowledge for the sake of knowledge’, ‘art for the sake of art’, etc., are meaningless. The curriculum should have utility. Subjects such as literature, art, music, dance, etc., are unnecessary. The curriculum should lay emphasis upon science subjects—physics, chemistry, biology, astrology, etc.




                  Methods of Teaching

Realist thinkers emphasise objectivity, knowledge of scientific facts and the knowledge of the real. Students should be helped to know objectively. This requires knowledge through sense organs. Words are symbols to convey experience. They help in communication of knowledge. Practical verification is the test of all knowledge. Propositions which cannot be verified are nonsense. Facts are related to the present. The teacher should enable the student to know the world. He should not give personal opinions but clarify the facts. In fact, the facts should themselves be revealed without any distortion. Thus, the realists support fact-centred method of teaching.


According to the realist the knowledge of the real involves two laws: Law of aggregation and the law of conversion of simplicity. There is continuity in nature. In concept formation the feelings should not be allowed to interfere. In the law of conversions of simplicity, it has been pointed out that space and time are divided for the sake of convenience. The whole is the aggregate of parts. The parts do not lose their existence in the whole. Therefore, the proper method of teaching is to begin with the part and reach the whole. Knowledge should be analysed into principles, and principles into hypothesis. Facts should be analysed into propositions. Thus, the method of teaching should involve analysis and rational classification.


Realist approach to education is child-centred. The method of teaching should change according to the requirement of the child. The intellect of the child should be developed to enable him to know the facts. Experimentation should be the basis of facts. Knowledge is uniform in nature. The teacher should have firm faith in science. He should have a scientific attitude and develop the same in the educand. He should himself investigate and encourage the educands to do so. He should know the experimental method and train the educands in it. He should understand the needs of the student and fulfil them. He should render a clear, lucid and systematic understanding of scientific facts to the student. He should keep his personal opinion apart from objective teaching. He should keep an eye upon child psychology and adolescence psychology and mould his methods of teaching accordingly. He should make a selection of subject matter according to the interests of the student.


                  Contribution of Realism to Education

Like other systems of philosophy of education realism has its advantages and disadvantages. Its impact can be seen everywhere. The realist philosophers influence practical education. In seventeenth century academies for the teaching of natural sciences developed everywhere in Europe and later on in America in eighteenth century. Technical and vocational education has become a common feature of education everywhere. Thus, the following may be considered to be the contribution of realism to education.


Education in Technical and Vocational Subject

Every society needs technocrats and people trained in different vocations. Therefore, in every country of the world today the plan of education is based upon the needs of such persons in the development of the nation.






Practical Bias

The realist insisted upon the practical nature of education. Modern education is empirical, experimental and practical.


Practical Aims.

Even in the field of ideals of education practical aims such as national development, earning a livelihood, personality development or realisation of happiness are being emphasised. These aims conform to real social aspirations.


Widening of Scope

Realists have widened the scope of education to include scientific and technical subjects as well as social sciences and humanities.


Scientific Teaching Methods

Modern teaching methods are more scientific. Help is taken from audiovisual means of education particularly in the teaching of science subjects. Laboratory training is a must for science teaching. More stress is laid on inductive method. The universities are encouraging research in sciences and humanities.


Objective Attitude

Today’s education is objective. Personal opinions and feelings are ignored while objective facts are emphasized.

Sense Training

Modern education is empirical, particularly in primary and nursery stages. Stress is laid on sense training so that the child may use his different senses with maximum efficiency in order to directly gain knowledge of the world around him.


Realistic School Organiation

Modern school is organised to be a mini-society. Discipline means self-control and adjustment to facts. The students are required to develop all the traits of personality required in social life. The programmes in the school are geared to make him a responsible member of society.


In spite of the above mentioned advantages and favourable influences of realism on education, there have been certain disadvantages and limitations in realistic philosophy of education. Of these the most important are as follows:


Too Much Emphasis on Objectivity

The terms objective and subjective are relative. Absolute objectivity is impossible. No scientist claims absolute objectivity. Knowledge as well as ignorance, both are subjective as well as objective. Realist’s exclusive emphasis on objectivity ignores so much content of knowledge. It neglects imagination, feeling, emotion and sentiments which are also important facts of individual and social life. This leads to negligence of values which, of course, are not facts.




Too Much Emphasis on Facts

Facts and values are interwoven in the fabric of individual and social life. By their exclusive emphasis upon facts the realists tend to ignore values. The theory that values are social facts has led to immoral and corrupt implications. In a sense, values are sui- generis. They are self-evident. No real human life is possible without values. The realistic attitude often becomes factual but not value-oriented. Practice, of course, is useful but theory has also its value. Facts and ideas, both are part of knowledge.


Positivism and Meliorism

Positivism pleads that science alone is the real knowledge. According to meliorism we can make this world better only through science. Both these have some grain of truth but they have their limitations as well. Science cannot substitute philosophy, art and literature. Liberal education should find a place for all these. Some persons have better talents in philosophy, art and literature. Therefore, it is wrong to make science compulsory at all stages of education. Not only academic subjects but even some sort of training in ethics and religion are necessary for a happy life. Exclusive emphasis upon science makes education one-sided.


The above criticism is no condemnation. The contribution of realism is undeniable. The above discussion only shows its limitations. As has been already pointed out earlier, every type of philosophy has its positive and negative contribution to education. This is as much true of realism as of idealism, naturalism and other types of philosophies of education ( Sharma, 2002).



  1. Define Idealism and
  2. Compare philosophies of Idealism and
  3. Describe the characteristics of curriculum developed on the basis of
  4. Discuss the main tenets of Idealism and Also estimate their applicability in current education system.
  5. Evaluate the role of Realism in the history of education.


  1. Analyze National Educational Policy 2009 on the basis of


  1. Visit a secondary school and observe a classroom Evaluate teaching learning process in the perspective of Realism and make a report of it.





Ornstein, C. A., and Levine D.U. (2008). Foundations of Education, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.


Shrivastava, K. K (2003). Philosophical Foundations of Education Kanishka Publishers, Distributors, New Delhi .


Sharma, R. N. (2002). Textbook of Educational Philosophy Publisher-Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi (Sharma, 2002).
























Written by: Dr. Rahmat Ullah Bhatti Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





As an academic field, philosophy of education is the philosophical study of education and its problems. The philosophy of education may be either the philosophy of the process of education or the philosophy of the discipline of education. That is, it may be part of the discipline in the sense of being concerned with the aims, forms, methods, or results of the process of educating or being educated; or it may be metadisciplinary in the sense of being concerned with the concepts, aims, and methods of the discipline. As such, it is both part of the field of education and a field of applied philosophy, drawing from fields of metaphysics, epistemology, axiology and the philosophical approaches to address questions in and about pedagogy, education policy, and curriculum, as well as the process of learning, to name a few. it might study what constitutes upbringing and education, the values and norms revealed through upbringing and educational practices, the limits and legitimization   of   education   as   an   academic   discipline,   and    the    relation between educational theory and practice.



After reading this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Define Naturalism, Pragmatism and


  1. Identify the similarities and differences among Naturalism, Pragmatism and


  1. Analyze teaching learning process on the basis of Naturalism, Pragmatism and


  1. Discuss the main tenets of Naturalism, Pragmatism and


  1. Evaluate the Role of modern philosophies in



Naturalism explains all the natural phenomena on the basis of natural laws. According to this view, Nature itself is the ultimate reality. Nature has been explained by means of motion and energy. The different phenomena in nature occur due to the motion and waves of electricity. Naturalism also accepts the principle of motion. It is also known as energism because of its acceptance of energy. According to energism, all the natural things are only different forms of energy. Naturalism is also known as positivism. Positivism means that the natural phenomena come within the scope of some or the other positive sciences and can be explained by means of scientific laws. In modern times, positivism was established by a French thinker August Comte.


According to naturalism, the natural laws are universal and necessary. Thus, the naturalists believe in the principle of uniformity of nature. According to it the different natural phenomena occur mechanically without any purpose (Goetz & Taliaferro, 2008).




                  Philosophical Presuppositions

In metaphysics, the ultimate reality, according to naturalism, is the Nature and Nature is material. In epistemology, the naturalists are empiricists. They believe that knowledge is acquired through sense organs and with the help of the brain. They do not accept the rationalist’s position that all knowledge is innate. In modern Western philosophy John Locke, Bishop Berkeley and David Hume, the British philosophers were empiricists. They believed in the possibility of direct knowledge. In axiology, the naturalists believe in living according to Nature as the best type of life. ‘Follow Nature’ is their slogan. Be natural is their motto. They are pluralists since Nature has made all persons different.


                  Philosophical Forms of Naturalism

From the standpoint of philosophical principles, the following three forms of naturalism are distinguished:

  • Naturalism of physical This principle seeks to explain human actions, individual experiences, emotions and feelings on the basis of physical sciences. It seeks to explain the entire universe in the light of the principles of physical sciences. It has little or no influence in the sphere of education, because all that it has done is to place knowledge of science above every kind of knowledge. It points out that not only is science one form of knowledge, but that it is the only form of valid knowledge. It is a concept of positivism, and it holds that even philosophical knowledge is worthless.
  • Mechanical positivism. According to this principle, the entire universe is a machine made of matter and is possessed of a self-driving energy that ensures its This is materialism, for it suggests that matter is the only reality, and anything that exists is a form of matter. The human being is conceived of as nothing more than an active machine which is activated by certain environmental influences. The impact of this kind of positivism led to the emergence of the behavioural school in psychology which explained all human behaviour in terms of stimulus and response. Behaviourists do not believe in the existence of any consciousness distinguished from the material element. All processes of the mental faculty such as imagination, memory, winking, etc., are explained in physiological terms. This school also makes no distinction between human and animal, because both can be explained in terms of stimulus and response. Behaviourism thus seeks to explain the entire range of human activity as a mechanical process. As naturalism it has had a tremendous impact on education.
  • Biological naturalism. It is naturalism in this form, as biological naturalism, which has had the greatest impact upon education. It has elaborated the theory of the natural man, and has explained that the evolution of man and animal is a single It refuses to admit the spiritual nature of man and expounds that his nature is the heritage he has received from his ancestors. That is why it traces many similarities between human and animal behaviour. Biological naturalism contends that all the processes of Nature and the entire existence of the universe cannot be explained in terms of mechanical and physical processes, because in the biological world, evolution is a more important phenomenon. All living beings have an instinct to live and for this reason life evolves from lower forms to higher and more




complex ones. One can find all the characteristics of evolution in man’s life. The principles underlying evolution can explain the form that a human being will ultimately assume and the manner in which he will progress. At the animal level, the process of evolution stops at the material or physical level, but in the case of human beings it is also manifested in the mental, moral and spiritual levels. This instinctive evolution is found not only in individual human beings but also in groups of human beings, because these groups also evolve to a stage of greater complexity. But this evolution is also governed by the same principles which govern the individual’s evolution. In this process of evolution, the principles of struggle for existence and survival of the fittest have been considered the most important by Charles Darwin, because in his opinion the principle of self- preservation is the strongest law of nature.


                  Aims of Education

Concerning the aims of education, naturalists adopt a biological and evolutionist attitude. Even among the different forms of naturalism one finds a variation in the objectives assigned to education. Mechanical naturalism suggests that education should aim at the efficiency and perfection of the human machine. But this concept does not represent completely the naturalist school. Biological evolution uses education to ensure the proper adjustment or adaptation of the child to his environment. McDougall points out that education aims at the transformation, synthesis and sublimation of instincts. Darwinists argue that education must train the individual to struggle successfully for his own survival. Lamarck and his followers agree with the concept of biological evolution, because for them also the aim of education is to adapt to the environment. On the other hand, Herbert Spencer believed education to be a preparation and a training for the complete life. Bernard Shaw believed that education must aim not only at the individual’s development but also at making the individual capable of stimulating and sustaining social development, for this will add to the social heritage of the succeeding generations.

T.P. Nunn prefers to use education as a means of making the individual capable of developing his own individuality and of contributing to society. Naturalists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries believe that education should achieve a synthesis and adjustment between individual and society and also between man and nature. Rousseau believed that education should develop the child according to his natural ability. And it is accepted today that education should conform to the child’s abilities. To quote Rousseau’s words, “Now of the three factors in education, nature is wholly beyond our control; things are only partly in our power; the education of men is the only one controlled by us, and even here our power is largely illusory, for who can hope to direct every word and deed of all with whom the child has to do.


What is the goal? As we have just shown it is the goal of nature since all three modes of education must work together, the two that we can control must follow the lead of that which is beyond our control”1 The naturalist approach to the aims of education is rather narrow in that it fails to include the spiritual aspect of man’s nature. Its inclusion would almost naturally remove the distance between idealism and naturalism and this is what is being attempted now.





As a system of philosophy, naturalism has been exceptionally susceptible to the development of science, and by virtue of this influence it has attached much importance to evolutionary theory, empirical teaching and scientific analysis, etc. As a result of the significance ascribed to scientific study naturalists want to introduce physical and social sciences at every level of education because they believe these to be more important than the humanities. Language and mathematics for the naturalists, are tools for the learning of science and both should be taught only so long as they assist the learning of science. Literature, in any case should not completely absorb the students’ interest and attention. Curricula should be so constructed as to encourage the educand to take an interest in science and to gain knowledge which is factual and objective.


Granting that the present is more important than the future, the naturalists have not fallen into the mistake of neglecting the past, because the past contains many valuable suggestions for the educand. For this reason, naturalists believe in the value of historical study. Such a study will enable them to construct a new social structure and thus plan for the future.


Since evolutionists believe man to have developed or evolved, from the animal stage, and since they also believe that there is no gap or discontinuity in the transition from the animal to the human, they want education to develop the instincts and emotions.


On the subject of curriculum, naturalists have expressed theories which differ from each other to some extent. Comenius wanted the educand to study every subject, without making any selection. Locke refuted this notion by demonstrating that every individual cannot be made to study the same subject, because of certain natural handicaps. Hence, much emphasis was laid upon modifying the curriculum to suit the needs of the individual. Herbert Spencer arranged the curriculum with science as its nucleus and tried to synthesise the other subjects to science. The arts were given a secondary place in his programme because he believed that one must first create the basic elements before refining or making them sophisticated. In fact, he wanted to synthesise all subjects to the study of science, arriving at a conception of liberal education arranged around science.

T.H. Huxley, another naturalist, attached greater importance to the cultural aspects of life than to the study of science. Thus, his conception of a liberal education differed materially from that of Spencer. In contrast, modern naturalists do not stress the importance of any one subject against that of any other, although more importance is attached to the sciences. Yet, the arts are not neglected, but given an important place in the curriculum so that it may acquire a definitely wide base (Sharma, 2002).


                  Educational Methods

Naturalist education is paidocentric. The child occupies the central place in it. The child, in order to develop, should be left on its own. The society or the state should not interfere in his contact with nature. This will allow the growth of the child in natural circumstances. Therefore, the most important method of teaching, according to the naturalist, is to leave the child free to learn from nature. Naturalism was responsible for a




violent denunciation of the traditional methods of education. It opposed all kinds of negative techniques and the stress on rote learning. Instead, it favoured teaching by more positive methods. Being empirical, it preferred to educate the child by giving him actual experience of all that he is to learn. Locke believed that training of the sense organs or sensory training, should be the first stage in the child’s education. Naturalists considered experience to be more important than books, for they propounded the principle of do and learn. They felt that the child learns much from natural consequences, and therefore it is best that the child be left to do as he is inclined, so that he may follow the dictates of his own nature.


Much emphasis is laid upon direct experience. It is argued that the child learns more by direct experience of nature, men and objects than through books. By the same reasoning, teaching of science can be more effective if it is done through practical work in the laboratory, just as geometry is better learnt by-calculating the configuration of actual objects and spaces than through hypothetical problems posed in the textbooks. Geography can be taught better through tours of places of geographical interest than through maps and charts. The same holds true of the teaching of history. Hence, the naturalistic educational methods depend more upon direct experience and personal observation than upon textbooks.

Naturalist thinkers suggest the following two methods of education:

  1. Positive In this the educator tries to inform the child about various subjects. This is the traditional method which the naturalist rejects as old fashioned and ineffective.
  2. Negative method. Concerning the negative methods of education, Rousseau has commented, “I call a negative education one that tends to perfect the organs that are the instruments of knowledge before giving them this knowledge directly and that endeavours to prepare the way for reason by the proper exercise of the senses”. Hence negative education consists in training the child to use his sense organs and motor organs instead of filling his mind with bits and pieces of information. By using the various bodily powers at his disposal, the child will generate much knowledge for himself.


The play way method of education is very popular with naturalists because, during play, the child gets the opportunity to manifest his dormant powers. He is often faced with situations which compel him to use these powers. Irrespective of the definition of play— as recapitulation of man’s ancient activities, as a rehearsal for the rough and tumble of future life, as safety valve for letting off excess energy it is undoubtedly the most natural and facile way of developing the child’s natural inclinations. That games provide an outlet for man’s creative power is true not only of the child’s games but also of games played in adult life.


Artificiality of any kind is another thing with the naturalists find objectionable. The atmosphere in the class and the school should be informal, and the time-table should not be rigorously adhered to. Apart from the subjects taught as part of the prescribed syllabus, the child must be encouraged to take active part in various extracurricular




programmes. And, in fact, the child should not be burdened by or compelled to submit to any definite teaching method at all. Left to himself the child is perfectly capable of evolving an educational technique which suits him best. If the educator wants to know what this method is, he should observe the child, since through such observation he can learn what the child wants, in which direction he is inclined, in what things he evinces interest. Consequently, the teacher will be enabled to mould his own technique to suit the child.


                  The Teacher

Naturalism opposes the traditional concepts of education in which the educator inflicted any and all kinds of punishment on the child in order to make it progress in the desired direction. Naturalists believe that the period of infancy is important in itself, not merely as a stepping stone to adult life. That explains their extreme emphasis upon the playway technique of education. They opine that the child should be encouraged to enjoy his infancy and childhood as much as he can, with the least possible interference from the teacher. Consequently, the teacher does not occupy as high and respected a position as he does under the idealistic tradition. One example of this is Neil’s Summerhill School in which the educator mixed with the educands, played and practically lived with them. Even the matter of discipline was in the hands of the educands who selected a cabinet of five educands for this purpose. This cabinet was even empowered to expel an educand from the school, if it felt the necessity for such an extreme step. Neil’s only function was to remove the various difficulties of the educands, after discussing everything with them. Hence, in this school, the educator was no more than just one of the members of the school.


Naturalists suggest that the educator should be a guide and a friend, and that in his behaviour with the child, the educator should try to recollect his own childhood and infancy. The child is naturally inclined to laughter and happiness. Hence the educator should be jolly and not grave, for undue seriousness of manner and behaviour depresses the child. The educator’s role is primarily negative inasmuch as he is required to protect the child’s inherent goodness from bad influences originating in the environment. He is responsible for creating an environment in which the child can experience the greatest amount of freedom. He must study the child’s psychology and intervene in his activity only when some obstacle bars the way to the child’s progress.


Hence, the aim of education is, thus, to provide the child with opportunities for completely unrestricted self-expression. The role of educator, therefore, is only to protect the child from repressions, mental conflicts and mental disorders of all kind. Naturalism warns the educator against unnecessary seriousness, the desire to assert his authority, physical punishment, etc., since all these measures have a detrimental influence upon the child’s development. The educator must think in terms of what he must avoid doing rather than think of things he must do. He can do even better and become literally a child in dealing with children. But his guidance is apparent when he can give a positive and confident opinion on controversial matters, and for this he must be possessed of unbounded self-confidence., He can also guide the children in their search for new things,




and can train them in new techniques of doing things so that in later life they should become capable of doing things on their own. The role of the teacher is most clearly defined by Ross in the following words, “His (educator’s) place, if any, is behind the scenes; he is an observer of the child’s development rather than a giver of information, ideas, ideals and will power, or a moulder of character. These the child will forge for himself, he knows better than any educator what he should learn, when and how he should learn it. His education is the free development of his interests and motives rather than an artificial effort made on him by an educator. “It is evident, therefore, that the educator should never have recourse to any kind of pressure or force, even to the use of his own authority. His task is simply to provide the theatre for the child’s acting, to collect the materials required, to provide the child with an opportunity to do as he likes, to create an ideal environment. As a result of the impact of naturalism, many of the latest techniques of education, such as the Montessori system, Dalton plan, Project method, etc., all grant to the teacher a similar status.


Compared to naturalistic philosophy, the idealistic school grants a more responsible position to the teacher. Adams expressed the opinion that the educator himself has been through the same situations as the educand is experiencing at present. He is no less a part of the intellectual world than anyone else. Both the educator and the educand are two elements of the organic structure of the universe, and both have their own status and role in God’s plan. The educator teaches and guides him along the path of perfection.


The educator’s role in the naturalist organisation of education is clarified by the example of Froebel’s kindergarten system. In this system, the school is conceived to be a garden, the educand to be a delicate plant and the educator the careful, responsible and cautious gardener. The plant grows by itself, it seeks its own nourishment, and its development is governed by natural laws. It is impossible to turn one plant into a plant of another kind. This is beyond the abilities of even the greatest gardener. His only function is to make sure that the plant and the weed grows according to its own nature, and that this development is not hindered.


Upto this point, the idealistic conception does not differ very much from the naturalistic conception. But, as Ross has commented, the naturalist may be satisfied with wild flowers, but the idealist can be satisfied only by the finest of roses. The idealist places greater stress on the aims of education, and believes this aim to be self-realisation or perfection. Hence, under the idealistic pattern of education, the educator allows the educand to follow the natural pattern of growth, but he reserves the right to guide the educand towards perfection. It is implied that such perfection cannot be achieved without the educator’s guidance, and hence the educator does not remain merely a friend, but becomes a guide and a sage.



As in the case of curriculum and educational methods, the naturalist philosophers oppose the traditional concepts of discipline. And more than anything else, they oppose the method of physical punishment for they believe that this gives rise to undesirable conflict




in the child. Rousseau has written, “Children should never receive punishment. Freedom and not power is the greatest good.” If the child makes a mistake he will get his reward from nature itself, and thus he will learn to distinguish between the right and the wrong through the consequences of his own actions. For this reason the child should be given every liberty. To the naturalist, liberty does not imply freedom to interfere with the activity of others. The child can never be independent in this sense because he is controlled by many rules and laws which unconsciously or consciously operate in his mind. Only external and obvious discipline should be done away with. All the work of school administration and organisation should be left to the educand, for then he will learn to make the rules and to obey them.


Respect of discipline is sought to be instilled in the child’s mind through natural consequences. Spencer writes, “When a child falls, or runs its head against the table, it suffers a pain, the remembrance of which tends to make it more careful; and by repetition of such experiences, it is eventually disciplined into proper guidance of its movement”. But, there is a limit to learning through this method. In fact, very often the child is not able to reason out the relation between his various actions and the total consequences. As a result, he repeats even the harmful activity many times. And, hence, in such a situation, as Dewey has hinted, it becomes necessary to scold the child, to caution it, or even to punish it. As T.H. Huxley observes, “Nature’s discipline is not even a word and a blow, and the blow first, but the blow without a word. It is left to you to find out why your ears are boxed”.2 Hence, it is not enough to abandon the child to learn for itself through these natural consequences of his actions. They do play a significant role in his training, but it is necessary to caution him at times. He should be warned against certain kinds of activities. The system of reward and punishment has been found effective everywhere. But it must be remembered that the value of the naturalist concept lies in that it hints at the shortcomings of excessive external discipline, although there is no doubt that the theory is definitely one-sided.


                  School Organisation

Naturalism distinguishes between formal and informal agencies. While the formal agency of education is the school and other educational institutions, the informal agencies include family, society, community and state, etc. Of these the informal agency, family starts the education of the child. The state influences the formal agencies of education. The school management, according to naturalists, should be liberal, free and based upon natural laws. According to the naturalist philosophers nature itself is a school where the child is taught according to natural principles. The school should be organised in such a way so that the child may get natural atmosphere for his growth. The naturalists cherish democratic values. The social environment of the school should be based upon the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. The teacher’s role should be reduced to minimum. The students should themselves govern the school. They should receive training in leadership. The time-table of the school should be flexible because a rigid time-table hampers freedom. The naturalist school organisation may be found in Dalton plan where classes are changed into laboratories and there is no definite time-table in the school. The school buildings should have proper arrangement of light and air. Rousseau




recommended organisation of schools according to the nature of children and the stages of development of the educands.


                  Contribution of Naturalism to Education

Like other systems of philosophy of education, naturalism has also made important contribution to education. It made education paidocentric, psychological, free, self- dependent, related to nature and society, based upon developmental psychology, democratic, multisided and natural to the stages of development. These points may now be discussed in detail.

  1. Paidocentric education. In the naturalistic conception of education, the child is in the forefront while all other things such as the educator, the books, the curriculum, the school, , are all in the background. Sir John Adams called this the conception of paidocentric education. Naturalism stresses the fact that education should be guided by the nature of the child, that the natural inclination of the child is always good. Rousseau said, “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature but everything degenerates in the hands of man”. It is, therefore, argued that the child is naturally invested with all goodness, and all that is necessary is to protect him from a defective environment. He must be provided with the kind of environment which will encourage him to develop his innate goodness, his natural sense of the beautiful. He must be enabled to avoid the ugly, to manifest the natural truth inside him so that he can combat the falsity which is thrust upon him by the defective environment. In this process, the educator can perform only the function of the guide. Naturalists are not inclined to transform the child’s nature through education or to apply to him the standards of the adult. Education according to them, is not the preparation for life but life itself. Children should live like children, because infancy has its own significance, and it is not merely a stepping stone to adulthood. The child is not to be prepared and made ready for his future, but instead to be allowed to enjoy the present. Munro opines that Rousseau was the first to state the principle, that, “Education finds its purpose, its process and its means wholly within the child life and the child experience”. In this manner, it can be summarized that education is the process of living a natural life and moving towards evolution, because the child has within himself the germs of evolution.
  2. Emphasis upon psychology. The influence of naturalism was the cause of the psychological tendency gaining so much prominence in the field of education. By stressing the fact of the child’s nature, it emphasised the importance of natural And, in order to determine what is natural and what is abnormal in child development, the naturalists turned to the psychologists. Thus it came to be understood that education must study the child and observe him. Many psychological researches have established that the child is not a young adult, that he has a distinct psychology which differs from adult psychology. It has been established that the child’s mental activities of thinking, memory, imagination, recall, learning, etc., all differ from similar activities in the adult. Hence, naturalism stressed the value of psychology for education. Rousseau is often created with introducing the psychological tendency in education for he was the first to point out




that education should follow the child’s nature, which must first be understood. Although Thomas Fuller had stressed even before Rousseau the importance of studying the educand more than books, it was the latter whose theorizing in this sphere took practical shape. Rousseau’s ideas were put into practice by Pestalozzi, Herbert, Froebel and other educationists. The introduction of psychology into the sphere of education led to considerable research in child psychology, and the entire process finally culminated in the emergence of a distinct branch of psychology called educational psychology.

William McDougall has made valuable contribution to the literature on and knowledge of child psychology by his analysis of the child’s instincts and his definition of the process of character formation, determination and sentiment formation in the child. Thorndike and other psychologists contributed great wealth of knowledge in the sphere of manual skill and other aspects of child learning. By comparing and examining the various stages in the evolution of the child, it was found that child psychology differed considerably in infancy, childhood and adolescence. As a consequence, great stress was placed on adopting different techniques of teaching at each one of these stages. Apart from this, education was further influenced by the discovery that children differed from each other to a very great extent in respect of their physical and mental capabilities, their nature and emotions, etc. It was considered desirable to make education flexible so that it could accommodate all such variations and still contribute to the healthy development of the child. But probably the greatest impact on education was that of the psychoanalysts. Freud put forward many novel theses about child psychology. Other psychoanalysts were responsible for many interesting and illuminating books on child psychology, and these were avidly read by educators the world over. In the main, the influence of psychoanalysis can be seen in the knowledge it provides of the harmful effects of repression and the fresh attitudes to sex, authority, the child’s attitude to authority. Besides, this branch of psychology also warned educators against the harmful effects of threats, physical punishment and asserting oneself. Ross is of the opinion that the greatest benefit derived from psychoanalysis is that it has helped to explain the causes of juvenile delinquency and also suggested ways and means of curing it.

  1. Emphasis upon free choice. Naturalists contend that a predetermined pattern of education must never be foisted upon the child even when the pattern is entirely Education must give the child an opportunity of making a free choice in everything that he wants to study or play or even the manner in which he wants to behave. No external restraints should be placed on his free choice. Some naturalists even object to the very institution of school education, because they fear that the school is an obstacle in their normal and independent development. They also believe that the atmosphere in the home is freer than the school environment but they are contradicted by others more conscious of the constant interruptions made by parents in the child’s activities. Apart from this naturalists, in general, are opposed to all educands in one class being taught in the same manner, or by the same method of education. They even object to the introduction of any kind of time-table. One example of a completely unrestrained environment is to be found




in Summerhill School established by A.S. Neil. It was taken for granted at this institution that the child was not expected to be fit for school, but that the school had to prepare itself for the child. Liberty was the first principle in the child’s education, so much so that the children could play through the entire day if they were so inclined. They were given no religious education because a child is not naturally religiously inclined. No adult values were forced upon the children who were also taught none of the principles of culture. Naturalists also believe that the child should not be made cultured unless he realises the need for culture. It was, therefore, thought better to leave the child in his more primitive condition. The liberty granted to the children even extended to their being allowed to roam naked if they so wished. It was found that no moral difficulty was raised due to the sex instinct, and it was decided that a healthy attitude to sex could only be generated through coeducation. Neil was of the opinion that undesirable behaviour is due to moral and unnatural repression, and that no undesirable incidents take place due to co-education if the environment is completely free and liberal.

  1. Place of the teacher. Naturalism grants to the teacher the place of the friend and the guide, not of the administrator, for he is not to interfere in the child’s activities, nor to make any attempt at influencing him. He is there merely to observe them, not to give them any information or to fill their minds with facts or to form their It is for the child to decide what he wants to learn. He will learn from experience what he should learn and when, what he should do and what he should avoid. His interests and instincts should be given an opportunity to manifest themselves freely. All this does not imply that the teacher has no role at all in education, for he has a definite role inasmuch as he is the one who will provide the educative material, create the opportunities for learning, create the ideal environment and thus contribute to the child’s development. For example, in the Montessori method of education, the child is given many kinds of equipment to play with, while the teacher looks on and observes. Naturalism, thus, favours the concept of self-education. Norman Mancken has gone one step further and suggested that children can even educate each other. Nothing should be done with a view to turning the child’s mind in any particular direction. He is not to be taught to read or write, to make use of the various parts of his body, or be taught moral lessons, but merely to be left to himself so that he can develop independently. This is what Rousseau implied by his concept of the educator’s negative effort in the process of education. Negative effort did not imply that the teacher was merely to pass his time, but to observe the child, avoid any interference in his activities, to prevent or protect him from defects, to protect him from a defective environment. The educator must be perfectly aware of all that he has not to do, but at the same time this negative attitude is to be supplemented by the positive one of love and sympathy. He can love the child only when he himself has been a child, that is, he has not completely forgotten his childhood. He should have the inclination to laugh and plays like the child, to forget that he is an adult, to mix with the children and become one of them himself. Only then can he give anything to them.At times, one finds children developing some bad tendencies and it becomes necessary to guide




them. But even this should be done in the form of an informal conversation with the child. In such a dialogue the educator understands the difficulties of the educand, shows his love and sympathy and encourages the educand to solve them himself. He makes the educand aware of the difficulties he is likely to face. Neil called this re-education. He saw in his own school that many of the children often sought opportunities for such informal dialogues. Whenever the children showed any disinclination for such dialogues, they were immediately abandoned.

  1. Direct experience of things. Naturalists believe Rousseau’s dictum, “Give your scholar no verbal lesson; he should be taught by experience alone.” Hence, the naturalist lays stress on teaching through direct experience. The child will learn more by coming into contact through the objects surrounding him than through He should be allowed to examine these objects. Similarly the teaching of science should not take the form of verbal lectures, but actual performance of experiments in the laboratory. Geometry should be taught not by the problems written in books but by the actual measurement of the areas of the school and the height and other dimensions of the school buildings and other objects. If geography is to be taught, the educand should be taken to the various parts of the country, and not taught only through maps and charts produced on the blackboard. Thus naturalists insist that the educand must learn from the things that exist in the school, not through the lectures of the educator.
  2. Direct experience of social What is true of the natural environment of the child, is also equally true of the social environment in which he lives. He should learn the various duties, obligations and responsibilities of social life not through lectures of the educator but through the natural society of the school, of which the educand is a member. Here, left to himself, he will learn to do those things which should be done and leave alone those which should be avoided. In Neil’s Summerhill School the children themselves decided upon the form of behaviour which others found objectionable or which hindered their adjustment, and thus learnt to avoid it. This formed the basis of the child’s social education. The concept of co-education is also favoured by the naturalists because then the society within the school resembles more closely the society outside school. Besides, it has been contended that unnatural attitudes to sex are the inevitable result of segregated education of boys and girls. This is a very controversial subject and many educationists fail to agree with the naturalists, although in many cases the results of experiments in coeducation favoured the naturalists’ thesis. It can undoubtedly be said, however, that the child’s experience of the social life within the school, forms the basis of his later social and moral life.
  3. Self-government. Another characteristic feature of the naturalist conception of education is the insistence on self- Neil’s Summerhill School experimented in this direction also by allowing the educands to form their own government. They created a cabinet of five educands whose function it was to reflect on various difficulties, to give decisions in cases of indiscipline and even to inflict punishment for such acts. These five cabinet members met every Saturday night, and one of them was elected to the chair. All problems were then discussed.




The cabinet even had the authority to expel an educand from the school, if it so decided, although in fact this right was never exercised. Neil states that this arrangement led to the development of highly democratic qualities in his educands, and it was felt that this weekly meeting had a much greater influence and impact than an entire week of traditional teaching. And, in fact, no one can doubt that such an arrangement of self-government is very beneficial for training educands in democratic living. The condition of self-government does impose certain restrictions on the educand’s activities, but because it is imposed through his own rules and regulations, it takes the form of self-government and self-discipline. All kinds of self-control can be learnt through self-government, and it has none of the drawbacks of the method of external control. There is undoubtedly no better way of teaching public morality. And it is only self-government which teaches cultured behaviour and co- operation.

  1. Play way of education. Of the many methods of education, naturalists prefer the play way. In this technique, all that the child learns is through a sense of playing or indulging in sport. Psychologists contend that the child best manifests his instincts and tendencies in an independent game, and his development can also be achieved through Whatever the objectives of play—the recapitulation of man’s primitive activities, the preparation for future life, or a kind of safety valve for an individual’s excessive energy—it is undoubtedly the most natural method of teaching. Playing affords education not only during childhood, for people learn many things through playing even in adult life. It also provides an opportunity for constructive activity. Games are an important medium of constructive or creative education. Naturalists have, therefore, placed adequate stress on the value of games a fact which even modern educationists accept without reservation. Nowadays the play way of education is adopted for the education of infants and children, and thus the acquire all the advantages of a naturalist education. Montessori education, for example, is a good instance of this because in this method of teaching the child learns even reading and writing through play. Scouting is another activity in which the child is taught many things through the medium of play. In Neil’s Summerhill School, more stress was placed on character than on learning. Children were free to play from morning till evening. There was no system of examination, and books had less importance in the school than most other kinds of activities. Some lessons were taught, but attendance was never compulsory because most of the work, in any case, was done outside the classroom. On the other hand, educands favoured the crafts rooms much more, where they were taught to make things out of wood, plastecine and metal. Educands and educators sat together to write plays. It was found that drama writing is an important means of developing the creative imagination.
  2. Development of the child according to its nature. Naturalists stressed the fact that the child must develop according to his own nature, and educational pattern must be modified to suit the various needs of children, because children differ from each other on account of their innate individual differences.
  3. Importance of developmental By stressing the value of studying child




development, naturalists made contributions to the progress of developmental psychology which scientifically studies the various stages of man’s development.

  1. Comprehensive Naturalists have favoured the adoption of a multi- faceted and comprehensive curriculum, which reflects, apart from the scientific, sociological and psychological tendencies, the holistic tendency in education. The holistic approach is, in fact, a synthesis of the scientific, sociological and psychological tendencies. Schools make use of all kinds of modern audiovisual aids, and arrange for teaching of sciences and the various arts. Extracurricular programmes and activities are also believed to be of considerable importance.
  2. Development of democratic Naturalism is opposed to repression and vigorous discipline of any kind. It seeks to replace the traditional by the modern, the dogmatic by the liberal and the progressive. It consequently helps in the development of such democratic qualities as liberty, equality and fraternity. It favours a complete rejection of the traditional modes of teaching and instead advocates greater dependence upon self-government.
  3. Development of child Naturalists played a significant role in the development of child psychology as a result of their insistence on education being oriented to the child’s nature. As a result of this development in child psychology, it was discovered that the child is not a young adult, but a distinct kind of human being possessed of a different psychology. Naturalists insist that the child is born good, and that education must seek only to protect him from evil.
  4. Support of residential schools. Under the naturalist mode of teaching, the educator has the negative role of protecting the educand from For this reason, naturalists favour residential schools because the educand’s environment can be controlled much better if the educand lives in hostels attached to the school. They also favour the pattern of co-education because this develops more natural attitudes in boys and girls.
  5. Revolution in all fields of education. Finally, it can be said that naturalists were responsible for some of the most revolutionary ideas in all spheres of education. As has already been pointed out, naturalists vigorously opposed all traditional thinking on child psychology, educational techniques, curriculum, administration, co- education, etc. Although all their ideas are not found acceptable today, many of the principles propounded by the naturalists are still being applied. For example, such educational principles as learning through activity, going from the simple to the complex, from the concrete to the abstract, from the definite to the indefinite, from the easy to the difficult, and from the known to the unknown, are all principles which were originally propounded by the naturalists. And all these have been established as correct. Modern educationists now agree that the aim of education is not to provide education but to encourage spontaneous The significance and efficacy of broad based and comprehensive curricula have been almost universally accepted. Frustration and repression are held to be harmful everywhere. And the role of the teacher is now universally seen as the guide and not the administrator ( Shivendra,2006).





One of the most important schools of philosophy of education is pragmatism. The term pragmatism has been derived from the Greek term pragma which means use. Thus pragmatism is an ism according to which use is the criteria of reality. Pragmatism as a philosophical tradition began in the United States around 1870. Charles Sanders Peirce, generally considered to be its founder.


Pragmatism rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Instead, pragmatists consider thought an instrument or tool for prediction, problem solving and action. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes. The philosophy of pragmatism emphasizes the practical application of ideas by acting on them to actually test them in human experiences.


                  Fundamental Principles of Pragmatism

The following are the fundamental principles of pragmatism in the field of education:

  1. Philosophically, the pragmatists are pluralists. According to them there are as many worlds as human beings. The ultimate reality is not one but many. Everyone searches truth and aim of life according to his experiences. The truth changes according to different spatio-temporal circumstances.
  2. Emphasis on change. The pragmatists emphasise change the word is a process, a constant flux. Truth is always in the making. The word is ever progressing and Therefore, everything here is changing.
  3. Pragmatists are utilitarians. Utility is the test of all truth and reality. A useful principle is true. Utility means fulfillment of human purposes. The results decide the good and evil of anything, idea, beliefs and acts. If the results are good, these are good, if bad these are evil. Beliefs and theories are determined by circumstances. Utility means satisfaction of human needs.
  4. Changing aims and The aims and values of life change in different times and climes. The old aims and values, therefore, cannot be accepted as they are. Human life and the world is a laboratory in which the aims and values are developed. Everyone should seek aims and values according to his tendencies and abilities.
  5. Pragmatists are individualists. They put maximum premium upon freedom in human life. Liberty goes with equality and fraternity. Everyone should adjust to his environment.
  6. Emphasis on social aspects. Since man is a social animal, therefore, he develops in social circumstances. His success is success in society. The aim of education is make him successful by developing his social
  7. Pragmatists are experimentalists. They give more importance to action than ideas. Activity is the means to attain the end of knowledge. Therefore, one should learn by doing constant experimentation which is required in every field of life. According to William James, “Pragmatism is a temper of mind, an attitude, it is also a theory of the nature of ideas and truth, and finally it is a theory about reality” (Shivendra, 2006).




                  Forms of Pragmatism

According to H.H. Home, “The main principle of pragmatism is that the theories that work are true”. As E.S. Brightman maintains, “Primarily, pragmatism is a criterion of truth.” According to them everyone should discover his truth according to his experience and commonsense. The following four types of pragmatism are distinguished according to emphasis:

  1. Humanistic pragmatism. This type of pragmatism is particularly found in social According to it the satisfaction of human nature is the criterion of utility. All truths are human truths. As the British humanist philosopher F.C.S. Schiller pointed out, “Some London squires are circular”. Contradiction in this statement disappears when we know that the term squire here means the meeting of roads and not the geometrical figure known by this name. Similar instances may be multiplied in different social sciences. In philosophy, in religion and even in science man is the aim of all thinking and everything else is a means to achieve human satisfaction.
  2. Experimental Modern science is based upon experimental method. The fact which can be ascertained by experiment is true. In other words, whatever works in the real world is the truth. The truth of a theory in science can be ascertained by its workability. No truth is final, truth is known only to the extent it is useful in practice. The pragmatists use this criterion of truth in every field of life. The field of experiment, however, is widest in the field of science In science, experiment is the only basis for arriving at conclusion in a controversial matter. The human problems can be solved only through experiment. This is true even in the field of religion. In his famous book Varieties of Religious Experience William James has advised that everyone should discover his God, mode of worship and man-God relationship by experiments in his own life. No other proof is required for a belief. By experiment in a field of life, one may know what to believe and what not to believe, what to do and what not to do. Whatever is proved by experience is true.
  3. Nominalistic pragmatism. When we make any experiment we attend to the result. Our aim is examination of the Some hypothesis about the results invariably precedes every experiment. According to nominalistic pragmatism, the results of an experiment are always particular and concrete, never general and abstract. According to medieval European nominalistic philosophy, a universal is only a name. While only particulars are existing, the universals have no concrete existence. For example, while we find existing human individuals, we do not find humanity outside these individuals. In the words of E.S. Brightman, “This kind of pragmatism is closely affiliated with sense experience as criterion for the particulars that we meet are mostly sense data, including their relations”. In the field of education emphasis is laid on concrete particular things and their experiences in comparison to verbal knowledge.
  4. Biological pragmatism. According to John Dewey, “The pragmatic test is found in the function of thought in adapting the human organism to its environment”. Experimentalism of John Dewey is based upon this biological pragmatism according to which the ultimate aim of all knowledge is harmony of the man with




the environment. Education develops social skill which facilitates one’s life. The school is a miniature society which prepares the child for future life. From the biological point of view, man is a psycho-somatic being. Every day we begin our work by means of set habits. Suppose some day we receive a letter which raises a problem requiring immediate decision the success of thinking in this function depends upon the best answer to the problem.


                  Pragmatism in Education

Pragmatism emerged as the twentieth century revolution against the nineteenth century rationalism, dogmatism, universalism and monism, etc. On the basis of their philosophy, pragmatists refuted the doctrines of other thinkers in the sphere of education and presented their own novel propositions. Some of the more important pragmatic concepts are the following:

  1. Importance of human effort- Pragmatists believe that education depends upon the active participation of the child. The entire form of the universe is based on human effort and man is the architect of his own destiny.
  2. Faith in the The pragmatic thinker is convinced of the brilliant and prosperous future of the human race. He believes that by making continuous and dedicated effort in the sphere of education, man can create a better adjusted and more powerful generation.
  3. It is suggested that, at every stage of education, the educator and the educand should refer every fact to his own experience and interpret it in that light. Only then can the new piece of information become a part of his life. Hence, only vocal or verbal education is not enough. It cannot be sufficient until it is based on and related experience. For this reason, pragmatists believe that the child should be given oral instruction, but this instruction should be supplemented by experience in the fields related to each particular subject.
  4. Pragmatic philosophy believes in continuous experimentation in every aspect of the educator-educand relationship and in every sphere of education. These experiments will reveal many new facts which can be useful in modifying the curricula, educational methods, aims of education, etc. Seen from this viewpoint, the school itself is a laboratory in which the educator is continuously experimenting. This approach of the pragmatic thinkers has given immense encouragement to educational psychology and child psychology, both of which have experienced remarkable progress.
  5. Concerning the aims, methods, curricula, etc., of education, pragmatism adopts a dualistic approach. It demands that every educator is to base his education on his own experience and philosophy, while every educand is required to acquire an education in keeping with his own specific inclinations, interests and abilities.
  6. Stress on practical success. The only criterion of the propriety of teaching methods, aims and curricula is the individual’s success in later life. Only those principles of education are connect which take the educand to success. Our only aim is to satisfy our natural desires and to develop life. All that assists in this process is true and good, and knowledge of this truth can be obtained only through experience and




  1. Pragmatism aims to create humanitarian values in every sphere of education, the methods of teaching, aims, curricula, etc. Education of all kinds should aim at evolving human values.
  2. Pragmatists are fundamentally democratic because democratic society is the best means of achieving humanitarian ideals. They want to utilise education to create democratic values and ideals in educands, so that they can be trained to occupy a responsible place in a democratic society.
  3. Emphasis on human personality. Pragmatists attach the greatest importance to the human personality, because they consider it the most significant element in the process of Education must be paidocentric, based on the natural activities and inclinations of the child. Besides, it must aim to make the child capable of adapting to the social environment.
  4. Social function of education. Brubacher points out that the pragmatic conception of education is based on two basic principles, the first that education has a social function and the second that it must provide experience to the child. Knowledge for its own sake is a principle which the pragmatist does not For him, knowledge must have some purpose, the purpose of adaptation which must take place in the social context. In the school the educand must be trained to become used to a democratic pattern of life. Pragmatists stress the importance of social values. Society is composed of man’s social experience. One important mode of education is for the educand to participate in social experience. The school itself is only a miniature society, which should be organised on democratic principles of society. If this is done, then the child can acquire many democratic qualities in the process of his education, and these qualities will facilitate his social life later on. In such a society, these social qualities can be easily acquired because a democratic society stresses the importance of equality, liberty and fraternity. Prejudices relating to caste, language, religion, region, etc., can and should be eliminated by creating a we-feeling in the school. The organisation of the school, the administrative system, the curriculum, in fact, everything pertaining to the school should be so evolved as to prepare the educand for a democratic social life.
  5. Comprehensive Pragmatists believe that the aim of education is a comprehensive practical education, a concept of education which is based on the philosophy of liberal education. The aim of education is to achieve the educand’s intellectual, moral, aesthetic, physical and spiritual, in fact, every kind of development. Neither knowledge nor ideals, in themselves are the ends. They are only means to satisfy certain human needs, just as education is intended to facilitate human life. Not only the ideals of goodness, beauty and truth, even spirituality and religion are means of developing life. Hence, education must be comprehensive and it must aim at developing the educand’s personality in order to help him achieve a better social adjustment.


    The Aims of Education

The various characteristics of the pragmatic concept of education clearly indicate the aims of education as conceived of by pragmatists. Pragmatic thinking is opposed to all kinds of dogmatism, blind faith, narrow mindedness, etc. It objects to imposing some




particular ideal on the child against his wish. Besides, it is not prepared to accept an ideal as correct or good merely because it has been so accepted in the past and because some famous educationists have propounded it. Pragmatism favours frequent experimentation in the field of education in order to determine more modern ideals which accord with present-day social life. In the words of Brubacher, “The progressive education has no fixed aims or values in advance. Educational aims, no matter how well authenticated by the past, are not to be projected indefinitely into the future. In a world rendered precarious and contingent by a compound of the novel and the customary, educational aims must be held subject to revision as one advances into the future. If education has any general aim in the light of which their successive revisions can take place, it is only that of pupil’s growth. But growth itself has no end beyond further growth. In other words, education is its own end.” It is apparent, thus, that pragmatists accept growth or development as the aim of education. The various ramifications of this aim are not discussed in detail, for they are to be discovered in the future. The pragmatist refuses to lay down any aim or ideal which can be permanently valid, its validity unchallenged by changes in time and space. All the aims of education must be concerned with the present and the future, and must be subject to modification. As John Dewey puts it, “Education, as such has no aims; education is an abstract idea. Only persons have aims. And the aims of persons are indefinitely varied, differing with different children, changing as children and their teachers grow. Stated aims, such as we are about to make, will do more harm than good unless they are taken only as suggestions as to how to look ahead for consequences, to observe conditions and to choose means in the liberating and directing of children’s energies.” Obviously, then, the aims of education are mere suggestions, not to be taken literally. They are to be taken as guides by the educator so that he is assisted in this task of educating the child. He is primarily concerned with training the educand in facing those situations which are likely to arise in his future life. In providing such a training, the educator is to take advantage of any aim that helps his effort. John Dewey believes that in fact these aims are to be determined by the educator himself. Despite this, he points out, that the educational aim must possess the following three elements in order to be a good or proper aim:

  1. Such aims are based on the educand’s actions and
  2. They elicit the educand’s co-operation.
  3. They are specific and temporary, not permanent and


Keeping in mind the above directive principles, it is easy to arrive at the aims of education. But this does not imply that the pragmatic thinkers have not adduced any aim of education themselves. If one glances at the criterion of good educational objectives one can see that by thinking along the lines suggested by it, the pragmatist does arrive at some conclusions. Dewey points out, “Education is all one with growing even as growing is all one with living”. Thus, the aim of life is growing, and hence education aims at growing. Put differently, it implies, that education aims at the comprehensive development of the educand. Despite this, such imprecision and lack of definneness has led to confusion in educational circles in America. Commenting on this, Bode points out, “The chief defect in American education today is the lack of a programme, a sense of direction. It has no adequate mission or social gospel.” Although this is one criticism of




the pragmatic conception of education, it does apply in its totality because the pragmatic aims of education imply that education must aim at realizing democratic values in life. The United States of America is the representative of democratic societies in the world, and it is vigorously engaged in protecting democratic values against the constant onslaught of communist thinking. Hence, pragmatic thinking in America indicates that education aims at creating a democratic environment in society which can instill in the educand a respect for democratic institutions. Kilpatrick, the finest exponent of Dewey’s philosophy of education in America, is correct in saying, “Our school rooms must become living democracies, that in a democracy it is self-directing personalities that we try to build, the kind that can carry forward life even more successfully in a developing world, and that the progressive development of a better life for all men is the basis out of which morality and moral conduct arise”. It is evident that pragmatism favours the democratic ideals of education.



As has already been pointed out, pragmatists favour an educational curriculum which permits the educand to develop all his qualities and obtain all knowledge that he can use fruitfully in future life. They have suggested the perusal of the following guidelines in determining a curriculum:

  1. Principle of Pragmatists are utilitarians who believe that utility lies in facilitating human adjustment and adaptation. The greater the satisfaction of human needs, the greater is the utility of the object achieving such satisfaction. The more it helps the child to adapt in his later life, the greater is the utility of his education. Hence the curriculum must make it easy for the child to later on take up some profession. For this reason, technical and scientific education forms an important part of the pragmatic curriculum. Pragmatists suggest that girls should be taught home science and boys trained in agriculture and the sciences. Apart from this, great stress is laid on physical training because it is essential for physical development. Putting it briefly, pragmatists favour the inclusion of all those subjects which will help the educand in adapting to his circumstances in later life. That is why it is suggested that the curriculum should include history, geography, mathematics, hygiene, etc. No useless subject which cannot assist in the child’s adaptation, should be included in the curriculum. The aim of education is human progress which can be achieved through various kinds of knowledge. Only those subjects the knowledge of which can assist in this progress should be taught.
  2. Principle of child’s interest. The child’s own interest plays a significant part in the process of Generally, children evince four kinds of interests-talking, searching or discovering, creative activity and artistic manifestation. In order to shape the curriculum according to these interests, it must be made to include reading, counting, handicraft, painting, etc. As the child develops, his interests also undergo change and modification, and therefore it is desirable that the curriculum at different stages of education should accord with the interests manifested by the educand at that stage.
  3. Principle of child’s experience. Being empiricists, the pragmatic thinkers insist on teaching through providing the child with actual experience rather than rote




leaning. Thus, teaching through books should be supplemented by programmes which provide practical experience of various kinds. In this connection, Dewey has pointed out, “Abandon the notion of subject matter as something fixed and ready made in itself, outside the child’s experience; create thinking of the child’s experiences as something hard and fast; see it is something fluent, embryonic, vital; and we realise that the child and the curriculum are simply two limits which define a single process…. The studies represent the possibilities of development in the child’s immediate crude experience.” Thus, the pragmatic conception of a curriculum is dynamic. It is desirable to create such a community and environment in the school which will enable the child to learn the technique of self-discipline and evolve qualities of citizenship in it.

  1. Principle of integration. Pragmatists believe that knowledge and intelligence are same all over the world, and that is why integration is of special importance in In the school, the different subjects should not be completely segregated from each other, because the subjects themselves are not important. What is more important is the human activity they encourage. The educand should be encouraged to acquire knowledge of many subjects and therefore the teaching of various subjects should not be separated, but integrated into a single unit.


    Educational Methods

The pragmatic methods of education are based on psychology and sociology, subject to the conditions that they give adequate scope for active participation by the educand and also that the method adopted must be dynamic and changeable. Both these conditions are laid down by the pragmatists because they believe in teaching through actual experience. One of the methods evolved by them is the Project method. Pragmatic thinkers point out that the success of any educational philosophy lies in its ability to raise the standard of teaching. They are critical of the traditional methods of teaching, because they believe in constant experimentation. They revolt against the traditional belief that the educand should sit at the educator’s feet and learn anything that is thrown at him by the education. For the pragmatist, education lies not in learning what the educator teaches, but in developing the ability of independent cogitation. And this is possible only when the method of teaching is purposeful and is fashioned by the child’s interests, desires and inclinations.


Pragmatism refuses to distinguish between theory and practice. True education lies not in knowing but in doing, and the child learns by active work, either in group activity or individual activity. This is known as the method of learning by doing. The educand has to learn not from the educator’s experience but by his own experience, and this experience cannot be replaced by books, schools or any other institution. The first element in any educational method is the educand’s own effort. Once he motivates himself to learn something, he needs no encouragement to gain knowledge. This does not imply that verbal teaching is meaningless. All that is implied is that the teacher must create a set of circumstances in which the child is inspired to face the situation. The educator must also provide the child with the means of facing the situation and solving any problems inherent in it.




The principle of integration is of major importance in pragmatic theory. It is believed that knowledge should not be fragmented. The process of learning should be an integrated one, because it is natural for human beings to create a unity in their experience. Man forever tries to create a unity in the myriad impressions which impinge upon him. The educator must take care that the child achieves a synthesis of all the information that he gathers in the process of education. One of the methods of achieving this is purposeful teaching. All these qualities can be seen in the Project method invented by Kilpatrick, Dewey’s follower. In Kilpatrick’s own words, “A project is a wholehearted purposeful activity proceeding in a social environment”. In the project method the educand is presented with a problem in the form of a project. He makes his best effort to try to put this project into practice. And, because it is posed in the form of a problem, the child is inspired to solve the problem. Most of the problems of day-to-day life, and the solution of such problems requires more than mere mental activity. The educand is compelled to bring into play all his other faculties, in order to solve the problem. During the task the environment is entirely natural. As far as possible the educand is made aware of the importance of the project. As the problem changes, the form of the project also changes. In the early stages of growth the child is faced with simpler problems, which grow more complex as he grows older and improves his ability to face it. Some of these educational projects relate to handicrafts, linguistic difficulties, problems concerning scientific subjects, problems of history and geography, trade and industry, etc. The first step in the project method is to determine the objective, and then to consider the various ways in which it can be achieved. The next step is to formulate a project for achieving it. Following this the project is put into actual practice and finally the success or failure of the project is evaluated. All that remains is to prepare a complete detailed report of the project. The merits of this method lie in the fact that it involves active participation and hence it takes the educand along the path of self-development and self-discipline. Being psychological in nature, it helps to evolve social and civic qualities in the individual and thus leads to success in adult life. The project method has been particularly successful in the case of curricular programmes. On the whole, this method of education is natural, purposeful and highly motivating.



Even in general, discipline is an important factor in school life and administration, but under the pragmatic pattern of education it assumes special importance. Pragmatists believe that the child must benefit from his social environment, and this he obviously cannot do, in the absence of discipline. According to the pragmatist theory, discipline is primarily social, and it emerges through active participation in group activity and purposeful activity. In the words of Dewey, “Out of doing things that are to produce results and out of doing in a social and co-operative way, there is born a discipline of its own kind and type”. This is self-discipline, the foundation of the educand’s character. In the school, the educand must be permitted to perform those activities which help him to develop such qualities as self-reliance, independence, sociability, co-operation, sympathy, etc. Freedom is an important element in the pragmatist conception of discipline, for it is assumed that the aim of education is to generate democratic qualities in the educand. Of these democratic qualities, the first and most important is liberty.




Consequently, it is only desirable that the educand be given as much freedom as is possible. In democratic countries, educators try to protect this freedom as much as they can. They realise that if this freedom is taken away from them, schools and colleges will never be used as the means of social progress. This freedom is the root of all true discipline, because this discipline is never imposed from outside. It is self-discipline. That is why the pragmatist believes in an intimate relationship between freedom and discipline. The aim of discipline is to create in the educand a social consciousness which will prevent him from indulging in anti-social activity. He is also inspired by this self- discipline to engage in those activities which lead to the fulfilment of his social obligations. The school’s only responsibility is to equip the educand with all those qualities, such as responsibility, inspiration, insight, etc., by the use of which he can assume the role of a responsible democratic citizen. Discipline certainly does not mean a simple obedience of rules or commands imposed from outside. When such commands issue from the individual’s own mind, the obedience of them amounts to self-discipline. Blind obedience is, in fact, a negation of democracy. All that the educator has to do to create discipline is to evoke a sense of social responsibility in the child, not to compel the child to submit to external pressure. Social responsibility helps the educand to become disciplined and this discipline helps him in successfully performing all personal and social tasks. This is the psychological justification of discipline. The pragmatic educationist constantly experiments in order to discover new ways to creating real discipline in the school. As a result of such untiring effort, many new methods have been evolved ( Sharma, 2002).



Existentialism in the broader sense is a 20th century philosophy that is centered upon the analysis of existence and of the way humans find themselves existing in the world. The notion is that humans exist first and then each individual spends a lifetime changing their essence or nature. In simpler terms, existentialism is a philosophy concerned with finding self and the meaning of life through free will, choice, and personal responsibility. The belief is that people are searching to find out who and what they are throughout life as they make choices based on their experiences, beliefs, and outlook. And personal choices become unique without the necessity of an objective form of truth. An existentialist believes that a person should be forced to choose and be responsible without the help of laws, ethnic rules, or traditions.


                  The Chief Characteristics of Existentialism

It is clear from the above account that in existentialism, human person and his freedom are given great importance. In it the ancient personal value stressed by Stoics and Epicureans and exemplified in Socrates’ hemlock drinking has been reinterpreted. According to existentialism personal growth and development can take place through individual’s own efforts and none can help him in this regard. Thus the practical problems of living are attached great value and importance. Briefly, the chief characteristics of existentialism are the following:

  1. Criticism of Idealism. Existentialism has emerged and developed as a reaction against Existentialist philosophers are highly critical of idealism and




conceptualism. According to idealism human person is essentially an expression of some underlying spiritual or psychic element which is of universal character: that is all men are fundamentally same and share with each other the universal character. It is this common character which truly defines the man. Therefore, the human freedom is subject to the good of humanity in general. There is no arbitrariness or individual will accounting for human freedom. But the existentialists criticize idealist’s contention about universal element and man’s good being subject to general good. They regard the search for essence a mistaken pursuit and according to them it is not the essence but existence which is real.

  1. Criticism of The existentialist philosophers are also critical of the philosophy of Naturalism. According to naturalists, life is subject to physico- biochemical laws, which, in turn, are subject to the universal law of causation. According to the law of causation whatever happens is due to antecedent causes and there is no event which can appear suddenly without some or the other cause. Thus, if the law of causation is universally operative there can be no human freedom of action. Human acts are as mechanical as the actions of an animal. This, however, is anathema to the existentialists and they stoutly defend the freedom of man. As a matter of fact, man is so free, according to J.P. Sartre, that he is fearful of his freedom.
  2. Criticism of the scientific Besides being critical of idealism and naturalism, the existentialist philosophers are also critical of scientific conceptualism. Science abstracts from the immediate data and brings them under some universal law or general rule, whereas, according to existentialists, all abstraction is false, reality is in the immediate data only. Furthermore, with the tremendous progress in science and technology, rapid industrialization and urbanization have taken place. This has given rise to crowded towns in which an individual is lost. Everything is done or happens on a large- scale and all personal values, individual likes and dislikes are altogether lost sight of. Today it is not the individual who chooses his end; rather all decisions are made by computers or statistical laws and data. Thus, science has made the value of man negligible. This is why the existentialists are opposed to scientific philosophy and culture. Indeed, the appeal of existentialist philosophy for artists and litteratures is due mainly to the stout opposition to science by existentialism. It is the basic belief of existentialism that any true philosophy must be grounded in axiology or theory of values and not in epistemology or theory of knowledge.
  3. Born of As has been indicated above, on account of an unparalleled progress of science and technology, huge, industrial complexes and townships have sprung. Everywhere man is losing touch of nature. In big towns the problems and inner conflicts of man have multiplied phenomenally. The two world wars have completely shaken man’s faith in world’s future and philosophy. With the growing application of technology and consequent increase in the mechanisation of life, there is a growing despair in the minds and hearts of men. The worth of human efforts is decreasing and the life is becoming like a raft on the open sea which is carried hither and thither without any definite direction. Under these circumstances a sensitive mind finds himself lost and forlorn. The existentialists try to analyze




and describe these human predicaments and find a way out of these. The existentialist is attacked on this count as indulging in gross exaggeration and raising false alarms. While it is very true that modern life is infested with hydra- headed problems and that intricacies of life overwhelm the spirit of man, giving up struggle in despair and cry in stiflement is no sensible solution of the current human predicament. Rather, any intensification of the feeling of despair and hopelessness would further complicate the matters. What is needed is an intelligent and sensible compromise with the hard and harsh facts of life. If man allows himself to be overwhelmed by misery, pain and apparent hopelessness of the situation, he would sink into apathy and cynicism. Thus he would not be able to improve his situation, on the contrary, every hope of any possible way out will recede. Psychologically, such an attitude is symptomatic of hypersensitiveness and hypochondria. Moreover, by advising man to feel fully unremittingly responsible for his life-situation, the sense of responsibility becomes abnormal and pathological. Such a man feels so intensely that he is led to commit suicide for small acts of omission and commission. As it is true elsewhere, it is true in this context that too much of anything is bad. The sense of responsibility and duty and the respect for human person are good things; but an exaggerated version of these can produce abnormal and pathological personality.

  1. Value of human From the observations made above about existentialism, it is obvious that existentialism recognizes the paramountcy of the human personality. As a matter of fact, for an existentialist “man” is the centre of the universe and nothing else is equal to it. Even Brahman, God, universe, etc., are subsidiary to “man”. The basic feature of human person is his freedom—unfettered and unrestrained. Society and social institutions are for the sake of man and not vice versa, as is believed by idealists and others. There is no “general will” to which the “individual will” is subject. If any social law or principle is restrictive of human freedom it is invalid and unjust. Anything which obstructs the growth and development of the individual must be discarded. With this aim in view, existentialist writers, artists and thinkers have expressed their views uncompromisingly and waged great battles for securing these freedoms for man.
  2. Importance of subjectivity. The Danish philosopher S. Kierkegaard has said that truth is subjective, truth is subjectivity: objectivity and abstraction are While scientists lay so exclusive a stress on the objectivity and consider any intrusions by subjective elements as wholly unwarranted and vicious, the existentialists are extremists who believe that only the immediate feeling or apprehension reveals the truth and that abstraction in any form or manners vitiates the truth and reality. The immediate experience or feeling about which existentialists talk is the direct experience by individuals of things like conflict, divisiveness, pain, anguish, anxiety, suffocation, etc. It is these conflicts and pains that tell a person the quality of his life and the business of philosophy is to analyze and describe these conflicts and trace their causes. Usually these conflicts are moral in nature and are indicative of inauthentic existence. The various existentialists have tried to describe in minute details the experiences like spiritual crisis, sexual crisis, marital crisis, etc. The existentialist thinking is beyond thinking and




reasoning and is rooted in direct experiences and their ungarbled descriptions. A biographical account, if honest, sincere and frank, usually helps in appreciating and understanding the truth of one’s own situation. For example, a marital discord may be due to lack of respect for the other spouse and too much expectation of him or her. An honest account of such an experience may help relieve tensions in many perusers of this account by providing them insight into their own problems. Everyone by probing into the depths of one’s subjectivity can discover the truth of one’s being and discover his authentic role in life. This is a creative process which gives rise to fresh insights. The man, when he encounters his existence first hand, stands alone. It is only when one is alone that one comes to grips with his true self. This ability to be alone, to stand by oneself, is the true freedom and this again is the basis of all morality. According to existentialists the origin of values is hot in the social situation but in the personal insight.

  1. No construction of philosophical system. From the ancient times philosophers have cogitated and pondered over problems of God, Soul, Space, Time, physical world, its origin and evolution, They have tried to present philosophies which embraced all these problems and developed a theoretical system. However, the existentialists distrust system making and theorization. According to them, the true aim of philosophy is action and not theory. Therefore, they do not cogitate over traditional problems.
  2. Emphasis on the problem of the relation of individual and world. Lastly, a problem which is thought to be crucial by the existentialists is the relation between individual and The traditional explanations to this problem are not satisfactory according to existentialists. If we, after Hegel, believe in the one universal element called Absolute whose manifestation everything is, the individual has no value per se and is not free. According to Hegel the acceptance of necessity is the true freedom. This robs individual of all freedom and. his unique quality. Such a view is repugnant to the existentialists; they, therefore, are consistently and consensusly anti-Hegelian. According to existentialists man cannot be considered subject to any law, rule or principle, be it a universal natural, social or political law. They are uncompromising free-willists and are extremely wary of any external encroachment upon human freedom. The rule does not verify and authenticate the case; on the contrary, the case does verify the rule. The validity of art is in the artistic impulse and expression and not in any aesthetic theory. The worth of man is underivable from any universal element. The existentialist’s account of man is neither mystical nor philosophical. Man and world both are unbound and free. Briefly, the existentialists consider man to be the centre of all value and activity. That is why their view is also called anthropocentrism.
  3. Emphasis on the problem of inner conflict. The central problem of the modern highly complex world is not ideological but practical. It is neither relevant nor important today to win followers for a particular ideology or theory but to inspire in men a sense of responsibility and freedom. If there is this sense, the process of communication is facilitated. The world peace cannot be accomplished by raising We require for this purpose individuals who are free, who communicate freely and, above all, who respect theirs as well as other’s personalities. A fortiori




the peace is possible if and only if there is peace in each heart; if each man is free from inner conflicts, if each can be free from the desire to subject others to his will. That is why existentialists attach so great importance to the problem of inner conflict. The traditional philosophies do not consider these problems philosophically worthwhile; but for existentialists these are extremely crucial and fundamental. The source of modern philosophical issues is the feeling of alienation from world, society as well as self. If we regard the existence and thought disparate, the problems arising out of this severance between reason and existence cannot be rationally solved. These can be resolved in practice only.


A true harmony is not a harmony of ideas or thoughts but a harmony of desires. A true philosophy is not a philosophy of substance but rather a philosophy of existents, a philosophy of immediate experiences. The true nature of this philosophy is not thinking about the being but participating in its movement, that is, commitment. The existentialist philosophy does not have any definite aim because, life being movement and flow which is not mere mechanical change but a creative advance, it is not possible to tie down life to any particular aim. Life cannot be aimless or having an aim but only inauthentic and authentic. An authentic existence is the only aim that life has but this is not some future state but a present quality of life. An authentic life can be personal only (Shivendra, 2006).


                  The Aim of Education

The aim of education, according to existentialism, is the realisation of inner truth. Contemporary mechanical and industrial life has alienated modern man. He is full of anxieties, frustrations, fears and guilts. He is lonely though in the crowd. His individuality is being corrupt. The education should make him realise his subjective consciousness. The existential aim of education is humanitarian and humanist. It aims at self-realisation. It provides knowledge of self- existence.


    Child-Centred Education

Existential education is child-centred. It gives full freedom to the child. The teacher should help the child to know himself and recognise his being. Freedom is required for natural development. Education should convert imperfection into perfection. Education should be according to the individual’s needs and abilities of the child. The relation of the child to himself should be strengthened by education.



Existentialist’s approach to education is almost an inversion of the realist approach. In the field of curriculum while the realists exclusively emphasise science, the existentialists find out that science and objective education severes our relation with ourselves. Science cannot help in inner realisation and achievement of peace. This, however, does not mean that science education should be ignored. It only means that besides science the curriculum must include humanities, ethics and religion. In keeping with this viewpoint contemporary engineering colleges have included some philosophy, ethics and social studies, in their curriculum. Without this synthetic approach to curriculum the aim of character formation and personality development will be defeated.






    Contribution to Education

Existentialism developed as a reaction against the contemporary social, economic and political situation in which man has lost his self. This philosophy has widely influenced art and literature. In politics it has stood against war. Its followers are active pacifists. In the field of education, the contribution of existentialism is as follows:

  1. Total The existentialists have aimed at total development of personality through education. Education should aim at the whole man. It should aim at character formation and self-realisation.
  2. Subjective knowledge. The present age of science has made too much of objective knowledge, so much so that the term subjective has come to mean unreal, non- sense, ignorant and irrelevant. The existentialists rightly point out that subjective knowledge is even more important than objective knowledge. They rightly hold that truth is subjectivity. It is a human value and values are not facts. Reduction of values to facts has led to widespread loss of faith in values. Therefore, along with the teaching of science and mathematics, the humanities, art and literature should also be given suitable place in curriculum at every stage of education. Most of the ills of the modern man are due to over-objective This requires a subjectivist correction in the light of existentialist ideas.
  3. Importance of environment. The present industrial, economic, political and social environment is valueless. Therefore, it helps confusion and corruption, tensions and The existentialists seek to provide an environment proper to self- development and self-consciousness. This environment in the school requires contribution from humanities, arts and literature. These will help in the development of individuality in the educand so that he may cease to become a cog in the social wheel. Rather he should develop to be a self-conscious and sensitive individual.



  1. Define Naturalism, Pragmatism and


  1. Identify the similarities and differences among Naturalism, Pragmatism and


  1. Analyze classroom practices at secondary level on the basis of Naturalism, Pragmatism and Existentialism.


  1. Evaluate the science curriculum of SSC level on the basis of


  1. Describe the main tenets of


  1. Evaluate the role of modern philosophies in





  1. Analyze National educational policy 1998 on the basis of Pragmatism, prepare a report and discuss in the workshop.


  1. Visit a secondary school and observe a classroom Evaluate teaching learning process in the perspective of Naturalism and make a report of it.



Ornstein, C.A., and Levine, D. U. (2008). Foundations of Education, Houghton Miffin Company, New York.


Sharma, R. N. (2002). Text Book of Educational Philosophy Publisher-Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi.


Shrivastava, K.K (2003). Philosophical Foundations of Education Kanishka Publishers, Distributors, New Delhi.


































Written by: Dr. Farkhanda Rashid Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





Knowledge   seems    to    be    something    we    gain    as    we    live.    Knowledge is the awareness and understanding of particular aspects of reality. It is the clear, logical information gained through the process of reason applied to reality. The traditional approach is that knowledge requires three necessary and sufficient conditions, so that knowledge can then be defined as “justified, true and belief”.


Every human being knows numerous things in his life, and numerous forms of thought and knowledge are expressed in one’s soul. There is no doubt that many kinds of human knowledge grow out of each other. Thus, in forming new knowledge, a human being is assisted by previous knowledge. The issue is to be able to put our finger on the primary threads of thought and on the common source of knowledge in general.


Knowledge is the initial point of philosophical discussions for the establishment of solid philosophy of the world and universe. One of the wide discussions is that which handles the sources and primary origins of knowledge through investigations, studies, and attempts to discover the primary principles of the powerful intellectual structure with which the human race is endowed.


Studying knowledge is something philosophers have been doing for as long as philosophy has been around. It’s one of the constant topics. Philosophy also strives to find the answer of question: what is the source that provides them with this stream of thought and knowledge?’ But how do we gain it? This issue has an important history in the various stages of Greek, Islamic and European philosophy.


Throughout the history of philosophy, it received a number of solutions. This unit is focused about such solutions. It will describe in detail different sources of knowledge acquisition.



After studying this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe significance of different sources of knowledge


  1. Differentiate between different sources of knowledge


  1. Identify the reliable source of knowledge



This sort of knowledge is based upon revelation from some supernatural celestial beings. This type of knowledge is commonly found in religious jargon. Revealed knowledge is the basis for qualia/phenomenal properties, as well as the belief in God. Revealed Knowledge, or Revelation, is that body of knowledge that exists independent of human conception.   Revealed Knowledge is that special Knowledge with which this universe, and preceding universes, and universes in the making, and universes yet to be made are formed, sustained, and ultimately dissolved.




Revealed Knowledge described as a knowledge that God has disclosed to man. God inspired certain man to write down the truth that He revealed to them so that these truth might be known thereafter by all mankind. Revealed knowledge is external knowledge. For those who profess this knowledge, the condition is that there must be a total surrendering of oneself to the source of such revelation, that is, the supernatural being, is eternally superior and cannot be said to lie or make a mistake.


In the Islamic tradition, the Quran is held to be an authoritative and revealed source of knowledge. In the Christian fold, for instance, dreams, visions and even the Bible have come to be accepted as forms of revealed knowledge. In African traditional religions, the status of self-revelation is given to deities, ancestors, divination of oracles and dreams.


Studies have shown that the bulk of knowledge we find in our religious institutions are informed by revelations of visions. However, it should be noted that revealed knowledge is associated with a major problem which is that of interpretation of messages. In other words, messages may be subjected to various or false interpretations and thus giving room for misleading knowledge. Revealed knowledge is also not suitable for classroom situations as teacher cannot impact objectives knowledge based on revelation.


Revealed knowledge is from God. In every revealed message, there is a metaphysical aspect and a physical. The metaphysical teaches the nature of the Divine Unity. The physical provides a code of behavior. Revealed knowledge has always been brought by a messenger who embodied it. The way he lives is the message. To behave as the messenger did is to have knowledge of the message, and in this knowledge is certainty.


Revealed knowledge comes from a supernatural entity. According to ancient Israelites believing that God gave Moses tens of thousands of words governing personal conduct and society. According to Islamic belief, Allah created man and provided him with the tools for acquiring knowledge, namely hearing, sight, and wisdom. Allah says:

“And Allah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while you know nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might give thanks (to Allâh)[al-Nahl 16:78]


Islam is the religion of knowledge. The first Aayah of the Qur’aan to be revealed enjoined reading which is the key to knowledge. Allah says: [al-‘Alaq 96:1-5]

“Read! In the Name of your Lord Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous.

Who has taught (the writing) by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not”


This verse clearly shows that Allah has taught man which the men did not know. It means that the revealed knowledge is the true source of knowledge.




In Islam, knowledge comes before action; there can be no action without knowledge, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): [Muhammad 47:19]

“So know (O Muhammad) that Laailaaha ill-Allâh (none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh), and ask forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women”


Allaah warns every Muslim against speaking without knowledge, as He says: [al-Israa’ 17:36]

“And follow not (O man, i.e., say not, or do not, or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge. Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allâh)”


Emphasizing the status of knowledge and the scholars, Allaah calls upon the scholars to bear witness to His Oneness, as He says : [Aal ‘Imraan 3:18]

“Allâh bears witness that none has the right to be worshipped but He, and the angels, and those having knowledge (also give this witness); (He always) maintains His creation in justice. None has the right to be worshipped but He, the All‑Mighty, the All-Wise”


Knowledge and fear of Allah may be attained by knowing His signs and creation. The knowledgeable are those who know that, hence Allaah praises them by saying: [Faatir 35:28]

“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allâh”


The scholars occupy a noble status in Islam, and which is higher than the position of others in this world and in the Hereafter. Allaah says: [al-Mujaadilah 58:11]

“Allâh will exalt in degree those of you who believe, and those who have been granted knowledge”


Islam calls us to seek knowledge. The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made seeking knowledge an obligation upon every Muslim, and he explained that the superiority of the one who has knowledge over the one who merely worships is like the superiority of the moon over every other heavenly body. He said that the scholars are the heirs of the Prophets and that the Prophets did not leave behind dinars and dirhams (i.e., money), rather their inheritance was knowledge, so whoever acquires it has gained a great share. And Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that seeking knowledge is a way to Paradise. Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-‘Ilm, 10)


Islam calls us to learn all kinds of beneficial knowledge. Branches of knowledge vary in status, the highest of which is knowledge of sharee’ah, then knowledge of medicine, then the other fields of knowledge. This is the knowledge with which Allaahhonoured His Messenger; He taught it to him so that he might teach it to mankind:




“Indeed, Allâh conferred a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting unto them His Verses (the Qur’ân), and purifying them (from sins by their following him), and instructing them (in) the Book (the Qur’aan) and Al‑Hikmah [the wisdom and the Sunnah of the Prophet (i.e. his legal ways, statements and acts of worship)], while before that they had been in manifest error” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:164 – interpretation of the meaning]


Concerning the matter of paying attention to the Qur’aan and learning and teaching it, the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best of you is the one who learns the Qur’aan and teaches it.” (Agreed upon. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4639) The ummah needs knowledgeable people at all times and in all places. A nation without knowledge and scholars will live in illusions and sink in darkness. If a person knows what Allaah has prescribed..?? {Where does this go?} Whoever conceals this knowledge and deprives the ummah of it, Allaah will place on him a bridle of fire on the Day of Resurrection, and he will deserve to be cursed, except for the one who repents. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which We have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people in the Book, they are the ones cursed by Allâh and cursed by the cursers.”


Revealed knowledge is of prime importance, especially in the field of education. It differs from all other sources of knowledge by presupposing a transcendent, supernatural reality that breaks into the natural order. Someone who views the world through the lens of revealed knowledge has a belief, and then attempts to force all of the evidence to support the conclusion. If it does not support the conclusion, is it either discounted or discarded. Therefore, proper understanding of Islam is one of the best of good characteristics with which a Muslim may be honoured, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Allaah wishes good for a person, He makes him understand the religion.” (Agreed upon).


Truth obtained through revelation is believed to be absolute and uncontaminated. However, it can be distorted in the process of human interpretation. It must be accepted by faith and cannot be disproved or proved empirically.



List down some examples in which shows that revealed knowledge helps human beings.


Self-Assessment Questions 4.3

Q1.   Compare the natural knowledge and revealed knowledge of God. What can these two methods of God’s revelation teach us?

Q2.   What are the limitations of natural knowledge? Is it of any use to Muslims today? Q3.       To what extent revealed knowledge is reliable?

Q4.   In what situations revealed knowledge is suitable? Q5.        Reflect your views on revealed knowledge.





Intuitive Knowledge is the ability to utilize and acquire knowledge without the use of reason; that science is now facilitating and helping explain. It is the faculty of knowing without the use of rational processes. It is the most personal way of knowing. It is immediate cognition or sharp insight. It occurs beneath the threshold of consciousness. Intuitive knowledge is based on intuition, faith, beliefs etc. Human feelings plays greater role in intuitive knowledge compared to reliance on facts. Intuitive knowledge involves direct and immediate recognition of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas. It yields perfect certainty, but is only rarely available to us. Intuition as a mode of knowledge develops on the basis of immediate apprehension.


Bertrand Russel (1912) claimed that all our knowledge of truth depends upon our intuitive knowledge. According to Ezewu, intuitive way of knowing is that which involves an immediate insight or eruption into consciousness of an idea produced by a long process of unconscious work. This simply means that intuition is a way of knowing something that one cannot really explain because it transcends ordinary sense experience or reason. Intuition may occur as a sudden arrival of solution to one’s problem or puzzle, having worked for some hours or days without arriving at such solution. It may also come in the form of quick guess of solution to a problem presented by another person. Intuitive knowledge cannot be verified by the senses or the intellect. The true knowledge that comes from beyond the intellect and that is the intuitive knowledge.


Everybody has got this ability and we have experienced in our life this gut feeling, knowledge from somewhere, which you cannot really make out what it is. How many of you have ever experienced? See everybody. Somewhere you feel this is the right thing to do and something happens in your tummy. And that knowledge comes up at that time but then we don’t honor it. Many times we stick onto the intellect or sensory perceptions.


Sometimes your intellect says this is wrong what I am doing, but you don’t listen to the intellect you keep doing the wrong things. How many of you have this experience? What you do? You stick on to the sensory and ignore the intellectual knowledge. And then what happens? You sometimes go beyond your intellect. Your intellect is saying something but your inner gut feeling is saying something else. And you’re feeling says no, there is something different, something more. And we ignore that and we stick onto the intellect. That’s how many times your judgments have found to be a failure.


How many of you feel your judgments have been wrong? But sometimes, beyond your judgments you have seen and you have taken a step and have been happy about it. In spite of your intellect saying ‘no’, something says ‘yes’. Something else triggers and that is what happens when there is faith and that’s when the faith comes up you know.


Chudn off (1985) said that according to Descartes‘ ‘we can best learn how mental intuition is to be employed by comparing it with ordinary vision,’’ and throughout his writings he characterizes intuition by drawing analogies between it and perception. There are various such analogies one might draw: one might, for example, compare intuitive




and perceptual phenomenology, or intuitive and perceptual justification. The intuitive knowledge is beyond intellect. The intellect plays on it and develops it further. Intuitive knowledge is a belief that amounts to knowledge because it is based on an intuition.


Intuitive knowledge being highlighted not because of what it comes from but because of what it leads to-namely, cognition of particular things which can give us an especially powerful hold on the truth that all things are in God. Intuitive knowledge is supposed to be greater, finer, higher, than the mere exercise of reason; but we are not clearly told why. It is said that there are certain truths of which definitions cannot be given; that cannot be demonstrated by syllogistic reasoning; that must be grasped intuitively. The practicing politician censures the abstract theorist who lacks a lively intuition of how things actually are. The educational theorist stresses, first and foremost, the need to assist development by educating the faculty of intuition.


The critics holds himself honor bound to set aside, when confronted by a work of art, all theories and abstractions and to judge it by intuiting it directly. The practical man, finally, professes to live more by intuitions than by reasoning. But to this ample recognition that intuitive knowledge receives in ordinary life there does not correspond an equally adequate recognition in the field of theory and philosophy. Of intellectual knowledge there is an ancient science-Logic-the existence of which everybody admits without bothering to debate the matter; but a science of intuitive knowledge is barely and timidly admitted by only a few. Logical knowledge has taken the lion’s share, and even when it does not actually kill and devour its companion outright, it concedes to it only the humble and lowly position of handmaiden or doorkeeper.-For what on earth could intuitive knowledge be without the light of the intellect? It would be a servant without a master; and if the master needs the servant, the former is even more necessary to the latter, if he is to get in life. Intuition is blind: the intellect lends its eyes on it.



List down some examples of intuitive knowledge from your own life.


Self-Assessment Questions 4.4

  1. 1 Is intuition valid way of knowing?


  1. 2 Differentiate between intellectual knowledge and intuitive knowledge.


  1. 3 To what extent intuitive knowledge is reliable?


  1. 4 Describe few drawbacks of intuitive knowledge.


  1. 5 Intuitive knowledge is “subjective” comment.





Authoritarian knowledge relies on information that has been obtained from books, research papers, experts, supreme powers etc. Authoritative knowledge comes from the experts. It is only as valid as the assumptions on which it stands.


This kind of knowledge acquired by making recourse to or depending on authority without verifying claims. This kind of knowledge is derived from the written works, documentation and reports of others. If Juliet accepts that Kano is the largest commercial city in northern part of Nigeria because he was told by his teacher, such knowledge is authoritative. Again, if Juliet accepts that Asaba is the Capital of Delta State having read it from a book, his source of knowledge is accepted base on the authority of others. Authoritative knowledge is used in all academic activities as references are, most times, made to authorities, writers, and authors in some specific fields. In the use of authoritative knowledge, care must be made to avoid unnecessary or psychological appeal to authority as this will make nonsense of this source of knowledge.


Similarly, in old times, when floods, starvation, lightening, or leprosy terrified men, they blindly accepted ancestral explanations that their elders imparted, and they appealed to supernatural powers for help. Rather than attempting to determine truth independently. Modern man may also seek advice from authority. A trial lawyer my ask a psychiatrist to testify concerning the sanity of the defendant, a ballistic expert to give opinions concerning weapons, and a hand writing specialist to compare signatures. A house wife may consult a child care book or a doctor concerning the spots on her son’s chest.


Turning to authorities to obtain knowledge often saves time and effort but care must be employed in choosing authorities and evaluating their pronouncements. Tradition in many situations modern man does not evaluate the truth or falsify of his believes any more than his forefathers did. He unconsciously or unquestioningly accepts many traditions of his culture such as the customary modes of dress, speech, food, worship, and etiquettes. In the world of practical affairs this automatic acceptance of approved patterns of behavior is often necessary for one cannot question all things. But one should not make the mistake of assuming that everything that has customarily been done is right or that an appeal to the accumulated wisdom of the ages will always let to the truth.


Historical records reveal that man has not only solved many problems and accumulated much wisdom but has also formulated many erroneous explanations of phenomena. Many long-reversed educational, medical, and scientific theories has proved false. For instance man once believed that children differs from adults only in size and dignity, that asafetida bags warded off disease, and that the plants revolve around the earth. Truth is not a guaranteed product of a popularity contest; a statement is not true merely because “everyone knows it” or “everybody has always believed it.”Age, alone, is not sufficient to establish the truth or falsify of a belief.


Church, state, and ancient scholar’s preliterate man turned to tribal leaders when seeking knowledge. In medieval times, man believed that ancient scholars and church man had




discovered the truth for all time and that their pronouncements could not be questioned. The scholastics, for example Aristotle’s conjecture that women have more teeth than men as absolutely true, even though simple observation and enumeration would have provided evidence for contrary. When invited by the Galileo to view the newly discovered moons of Jupiter, one scholar refused to look through the telescope. He was convinced that the moons could not possibly be seen because Aristotle had not mentioned them in his discussions on astronomy. Like most scholars of that era, the man who dropped Galileo’s invitation clung blindly to faulty Grecian theories and attacked any new idea that contradicted the accepted authorities.


With the rise of strong secular states after the Middle Ages, man began to run to king’s legislatures and courts as sources of information. Today, many citizens also expect government officials to solve problems concerning agricultural surpluses, international trade, and labor management difficulties. Many people appeal to the court for interpretation on basic issues confronting them such as the validity of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, segregated school practices, and the use of prayers in public schools

.From the earliest times to the present, man has sort guidance and information from his oracles, leaders, and rulers.


Man often refers to relay on the judgment of understanding. Authorities whose believes have with stood the test of time, because he fears that if he himself searches for answers to difficult questions he might make errors. But if modern man can make errors when searching for knowledge, his ancestors must have been subject to the same weakness. If tradition, the church, and the state are to be the source of all reliable information, what happens when these institutions render opinions that conflict with one another ?the authorities in different churches and states do not always agree and traditions of culture vary. Man may encounter perplexing problems when he turns to the multiplicity of existing authorities in a search for answers to the questions. Ignoring the cultural accumulations of the centuries is imprudent, for little progress will occur if each generation rejects the judgment of the ages and starts from the scratch to accumulate knowledge. On the other hand, refusing ever to question any accepted belief total reliance on dogmatic authority will result in social stagnation.


Expert opinion when searching for knowledge man sometimes seeks the testimony of experts who, because of their intellect, training, experience, or aptitude, are better informed than other people. Experts are necessary in a complicated cultural such as ours. An effort must be made, however, to find out whether the experts are recognized to know the facts about the particular problem under consideration. One should check not only the credentials but also the arguments and evidence upon which they base their claims to knowledge. Accepting expert’s opinions unconditionally or and for all the time is a dubious if not a dangerous practice.



List down examples of authoritative knowledge from your own experience.




Self-Assessment Questions 4.5

  1. 1 In what circumstances authoritative knowledge is more reliable?
  2. 2 What are the advantages of authoritative knowledge?
  3. 3 What are the drawbacks of authoritative knowledge?
  4. 4 Give some famous examples of authoritative knowledge which were proved “wrong”.
  5. 5 Do you agree that verification of knowledge is essential?



Rationalists hold that at least some of our knowledge is derived from reason alone, and that reason plays an important role in the acquisition of all of our knowledge. Rationalists believe that knowledge can be arrived at through the use of reason or deductive reasoning. The view that reasoning or logic is the central factor in knowledge is known as rationalism. There is clearly a limit to what we can learn through abstract thought, but the rationalist’s claim is that reason play a role in observation, and so that the mind is more fundamental than the senses in the process of knowledge-acquisition.


Someone who views the world through the lens of revealed knowledge has a belief, and then attempts to force all of the evidence to support the conclusion. If it does not support the conclusion, is it either discounted or discarded. Someone who views the world through the lens of rational knowledge would look at the evidence and either admits he didn’t know, or theorize on the most probable likelihood, accepting the possibility that he might be incorrect, meaning he may need to adjust in the future as more evidence is discovered. In short:


Rational Knowledge = Evidence in search of a conclusion


More than 2,400 years ago, Socrates developed an interesting question to help his students understand which of the two camps they followed by posing what is now known as the Euthyphro Dilemma. He asked: “Is something ‘good’ because God says it is good, making it dependent upon His will, or does God say something is ‘good’ because it is inherently ‘right’, making goodness independent of His will?”


Your answer to that will illuminate something very deep, and profound, about how you think the world is structured.


To someone who sees the world through a revealed knowledge framework, the highest ideals are obedience and blind allegiance. To someone who sees the world through a rational knowledge framework, the highest ideals are logical conclusions and independent thinking based upon demonstrable facts.




In the view of the rationalists, human knowledge is divided into two kinds. One of them is necessary knowledge, or intuitive knowledge. (p. 71) By ‘necessity’ here, we mean that the soul is obliged to accept a certain proposition, without having to require any evidence or a demonstration of its soundness. Rather, it finds in its own nature the necessity for believing it, in a manner not in need of any evidence or conformation.


On the basis of the rational doctrine, the following [truths] hold: first, the primary criterion of human thinking in general is the necessary rational knowledge. It is the fundamental pillar that is indispensable in every field. The truth or falsity of every idea must be measured in light of it. Due to this, the field of human knowledge becomes wider than the sphere of the senses and experimentation. This is because it provides human thinking with powers that extend to truths and propositions that lie beyond matter, and achieves for metaphysics and the higher philosophy the possibility of knowledge.


Second, in the view of the rationalists, the progression of thought moves from general propositions to more particular propositions – that is, from universal propositions to particular propositions.


Finally the rational doctrine does not neglect the powerful role of experimentation in the human sciences and knowledge, the enormous services that experimentation offers to mankind, and the secrets of the universe and the natural mysteries that it discloses. However, according to this doctrine, experimentation alone could not have played this powerful role; because for the derivation of any such scientific truths from it, it requires the application of the necessary rational laws. This means that the derivation is achieved in light of the primary knowledge. It is not possible for experiments in themselves to be the original source and the primary criterion for knowledge. For it is analogous to the test that the doctor gives the patient. It is this test that provides the doctor with the opportunity of discovering the nature of the disease and its accompanying complications. However, this test would not help discover that, were it not for the previous information and knowledge that the doctor has. Had he not had such information, his test would have been null and empty of any benefit. Similarly, human experiments, in general, do not pave the way for conclusions and truths except in light of previous rational information. Rational knowledge is the type of knowledge acquired through the application of reason or intelligence without reference to observable facts. It is a kind of knowledge that is firmly rooted on logical analysis for the fact that steps taken to acquire such knowledge can easily be explained to others and understood by others. As a product of reflective thinking, rational knowledge is based on the three laws of rationality. These laws include:

  • The law of identity
  • The law excluded middle
  • The law of non-contradiction


In terms of presenting valid reasoning, rational knowledge is more convincing than intuitive knowledge because it lacks emotional states of affairs and founded on logical relations and meanings. Rational knowledge can be applied to different areas like




mathematical formulae and have been applied to some great intellectual advances in sciences and the arts.



When and how do you use rational knowledge in your life?


Self-Assessment Questions 4.6

  1. 1 What is rational knowledge?
  2. 2 To what extent logic is applicable?
  3. 3 What is the link between rational knowledge and epistemological knowledge?
  4. 4 What are the bases of rational knowledge?
  5. 5 How rational knowledge is different from intuitive knowledge? Support your answer with suitable examples.



Epistemology has many branches and includes essentialism, historical perspective, perennialsm, progressivism, empiricism, idealism, rationalism, constructivism and others. Empiricism and rationalism can be specified as the two major constructing debates within the field of epistemological study. Empiricism accepts personal experiences associated with observation, feelings and senses as a valid source of knowledge, whereas rationalism relies on empirical findings gained through valid and reliable measures as a source of knowledge. Empirical knowledge relies on objective facts that have been established and can be demonstrated.


The empirical knowledge is an attempt to discover a basis for our knowledge in sense experience. In other words, empirical knowledge is the type that finds recourse or confirmed by the evidence of sensory experience. It is thus derived from the use of five senses since knowledge can only be acquired from the experience of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting. It is the evidence of the senses that gives meaning to empirical knowledge since the senses, according to the empiricists, are the source and originator of our knowledge. The thrust of the empiricists as regard knowledge is that there is no knowledge prior to sense experience and there can be no knowledge outside sense experience. Since empirical knowledge is fundamentally rooted on sense experience, it stands to reason that observation and experimentation will also be basic to empirical knowledge.


Empiricists hold that all of our knowledge is ultimately derived from our senses or our experiences. They therefore deny the existence of innate knowledge, i.e. knowledge that we possess from birth. Empiricism fits well with the scientific world-view that places an emphasis on experimentation and observation. It struggles, however, to account for certain types of knowledge, e.g. knowledge of pure mathematics or ethics.




Empirical knowledge is knowledge of such facts as one may meet in experience. These are always particular and may be of many kinds, including such as need a lot of training or some apparatus to experience them.


This doctrine states that experience is the primary source of all human knowledge. For that, it relies on the assertion that when human beings are deprived of the various kinds of experiences, they do not know any truth, regardless of its clarity. This shows that human beings are born without any innate knowledge. They begin their awareness and knowledge as soon as they begin their practical lives. Their knowledge widens as their experiences widen, and their knowledge becomes varied in kind as their experiences take on different forms.


The empiricists do not admit necessary rational knowledge prior to experience. Rather, they consider experience as the only basis of sound judgment and the general criterion in every field. Even those judgments that the rational doctrine alleges to be necessary knowledge must, [according to the empiricists], be subject to the empirical criterion, and must be admitted in accordance with the determination of experience. This is because human beings do not have any judgment whose confirmation does not require experience. This results in the following:


First, the, power of human thinking is delimited by the limits of the empirical field; so that, any metaphysical investigation or study of metaphysical issues becomes useless. [In this, the empirical doctrine] is exactly the contrary of the rational doctrine.


Second, the movement of thought progresses in a way contrary to the manner asserted by the rational doctrine. Thus, whereas the rational doctrine asserts that a thought always moves from what is general to what is particular, the empiricists assert that it moves from what is particular to what is general; that is, from the narrow limits of experiments to universal laws and principles. It always progresses from the empirical particular truth to the absolute truth. The general laws and universal principles that human beings have are nothing but the result of experiences. The consequence of this is a progression of induction from individual things to a discovery of general objective truths.


For this reason, the empirical doctrine relies on the inductive method in [its] search for evidence and in thinking, since this method is one that ascends from the particular to the universal.


The natural sciences, which the empiricists seek to establish on the basis of pure experimentation, are themselves in need of primary rational principles that are prior to experimentation. This is because the scientist carries out his experiment in his laboratory on limited objective particulars. Then he puts forward a theory for explaining the phenomena that the experiment in the laboratory had disclosed, and for justifying them by one common cause. This is exemplified in the theory that states that the cause of heat is motion, on the basis of a number of experiments interpreted in this way. It is our right to ask the natural scientist about how he offers this theory as a universal law applicable to




all circumstances resembling those of the experiment, even though the experiment did not apply except to a number of specific things. Is it not the case, then, that this generalization is based on a principle stating that similar circumstances and things alike in kind and reality must share in laws (p. 83) and decrees? Here, once again, we inquire about how the mind reached this principle. The empiricists cannot claim that it is an empirical principle. Rather, it must be a piece of rational knowledge that is prior to experimentation. The reason is that if it were supported by experimentation, then the experimentation on which this principle is based also, in turn, treats only specific subjects. How, then, can a general principle be based on it? Thus, the establishment of a general principle or a universal law in light of one or more experiments cannot be accomplished except after admitting prior rational knowledge.


With this, it becomes clear that all the empirical theories in the natural sciences are based on a number of pieces of rational knowledge that are not subject to experimentation. Rather, the mind accepts them immediately. Although there is great value of experience for humanity and the extent of its service in the fields of knowledge. However, experiments are not the primary criterion and the fundamental source of human thought and knowledge.


The seed of the positivist school in philosophy germinated during the nineteenth century, in which the empirical tendency prevailed. Thus, this school developed under the auspices of this empirical tendency.



Make a list of examples of empirical knowledge.


Self-Assessment Questions 4.7

  1. 1 What is empiricism?
  2. 2 Go what extent empirical knowledge is reliable?
  3. 3 Does rational knowledge necessary for empirical knowledge?
  4. 4 What is positivist school of philosophy?
  5. 5 For empiricists, thought moves from particular to what is general. Explain and justify.



  1. Revealed knowledge is the basis for qualia/phenomenal properties, as well as the belief in God.


  1. Revealed Knowledge, or Revelation, is that body of knowledge that exists independent of human conception.


  1. Revealed Knowledge described as a knowledge that God has disclosed to




  1. In the Islamic tradition, the Quran is held to be an authoritative and revealed source of knowledge.
  2. Intuitive Knowledge is the ability to utilize and acquire knowledge without the use of
  3. Intuitive knowledge involves direct and immediate recognition of the agreement or disagreement of two It yields perfect certainty.
  4. Intuition is a way of knowing something that one cannot really explain because it transcends ordinary sense experience or
  5. Intuitive knowledge is supposed to be greater, finer, higher, than the mere exercise of reason; but we are not clearly told why?
  6. Authoritative knowledge is derived from the written works, documentation and reports of others
  7. Authoritative knowledge comes from the experts
  8. Rationalists believe that knowledge can be arrived at through the use of reason or deductive reasoning
  9. As a product of reflective thinking, rational knowledge is based on the three laws of
  10. The empirical knowledge is an attempt to discover a basis for our knowledge in sense experience
  11. Empirical knowledge is knowledge of such facts as one may meet in experience
  12. Positivist school developed under the auspices of this empirical



Self-Assessment Questions 4.3

For Q1-Q5 read the relevant section

Self-Assessment Questions 4.4

For Q1-Q5 read the relevant section

Self-Assessment Questions 4.5

For Q1-Q5 read the relevant section

Self-Assessment Questions 4.6

For Q1-Q5 read the relevant section

Self-Assessment Questions 4.7

For Q1-Q5 read the relevant section





Agyakwa, K. (1988). Intuition, Knowledge and Education. The Journal of Educational Thought (JET)/Revue de la Pensée Educative, 161-177.


Bennett, J. (1984). A Study of Spinoza’s Ethics: CUP Archive.

BonJour, L. (1985). The Structure of Empirical Knowledge: Harvard University Press. Brothers, R., Halhed, N. B., & Horne, G. (1797).A Revealed Knowledge of the

Prophecies and Times: Wrote Under the Direction of the Lord God, and Published

by His Sacred Command, it Being the First Sign of Warning for the Benefit of All Nations: Containing, with Other Great and Remarkable Things, Not Revealed to Any Other Person on Earth, the Restoration of the Hebrews to Jerusalem, in the Year 1798, Under Their Revealed Prince and Prophet, Richard Brothers: West- Springfield [Mass.]: Printed by Edward Gray for AsaphChilson of Buckland.


Chisholm, R. M. (1973). Empirical Knowledge; Readings from Contemporary Sources. Chudnoff, E. (2013). Intuition: Oup Oxford.

Croce, B., & Lyas, C. (1992). Estetica: Cambridge University Press.

Engstrom, S. P. (2009). The Form of Practical Knowledge: A Study of the Categorical Imperative: Harvard University Press.


Hofstadter, A. (1955). Does Intuitive Knowledge Exist? Philosophical Studies, 6(6), 81-87. Moser, P. K. (1996). Empirical Knowledge Readings in Contemporary Epistemology. Sen, P. (1996). Axiomatic Philosophy: New Age International.

























Written by: Dr. Rahmat Ullah Bhatti Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





Ancient Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC and continued throughout the Hellenistic period and the period in which Ancient Greece was part of the Roman Empire. It dealt with a wide variety of subjects, including political philosophy, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, logic, biology, rhetoric, and aesthetics.


Many philosophers today concede that   Greek   philosophy   has   influenced   much of Western culture since its inception. Some claim that Greek philosophy, in turn, was influenced by the older wisdom literature and mythological cosmogonies of the ancient Near East. Philosophy as we understand it is a Greek creation. Philosophic tradition was so influenced by Socrates that it is conventional to refer to philosophy developed prior to Socrates as pre-Socratic philosophy. The periods following this until the wars of Alexander the Great are those of “classical Greek” and “Hellenistic” philosophy. In the Western tradition, ancient philosophy was developed primarily by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.



After reading this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the dialectical method of


  1. Describe the fundamental principles of Socratic


  1. Critically evaluate Plato’s idea of education according to


  1. Evaluate Plato’s theory of education and point out its contribution to the field of


  1. Discuss Aristotle’ aim of education


  1. Analyse Aristotle’ curriculum of education



Born in Athens in 469 B.C. Socrates was the son of poor parents. His father was a sculptor and mothers a mid-wife. Nothing is known about the early education of Socrates. He grew as an adult very much unnoticed by the people around him and took up the occupation of his father. But soon, Socrates felt a divine vocation to examine himself by questioning other men. Thus he used to visit people in the streets, in the market places, in the gymnasia, and at other places and engaged them in discussion concerning war, politics, marriage, love, house-keeping, friendship, arts and trades, poetry, science, religion etc. His main topics of discussion were the moral aims and ideals and virtues. His range of knowledge and discussion covered almost the entire life, theoretical as well as practical. He was not interested in the physical world. The subjects of his enquiries were the human life itself particularly the life of reason. He gave so many examples of great physical and moral courage. This was seen in his performance in war time. He was kind and gentle and had a great sense of humour. He was however, keenly interested in




exposing the quacks and humbugs of the society around him and show them how ignorant they were. This gradually increased the number of his enemies. The prediction of the oracle of Delphi that Socrates was the wisest man of Athens also caused the arousal of so many enemies around him. The people around him, gradually started talking against him. As the number of his admirers grew so also grew the number of his enemies.


Ultimately, a complaint was lodged with the state that Socrates was corrupting the youth and propagating atheism. He was tried in the court and so many witnesses were produced. In this trial the words of Socrates concerning death, virtue and so many other important things have become historical. However, he was condemned to death. In jail, his friends tried to persuade him to escape. He, however, refused and pointed out that everyone must obey the laws of the state even at the cost of his death. He was given hemlock which he drank cheerfully and embraced death.


In the whole history of humanity there had been no greater humanist, philosopher and lover of wisdom than Socrates. This short, stocky, stout, blear-eyed and snub-nosed man, with a large mouth and thick lips, careless in his dress, clumsy and uncouth, was perhaps the most beloved teacher of his disciples. This is amply clear by the writings of his main disciple Plato.



About the fourth or the third century before the Christian era, a new school of teaching came into being in Greece. The enlargement of the intellectual horizon resulting from the unrest that ensued demanded a class of men who could impart quickly every kind of knowledge. All sorts of conditions were pressed into the service of education and classed under the general title ‘Sophist’ to satisfy this demand. The teaching of the sophists was unsystematic. It was also limited to the few who could pay for it. Socrates said, ‘As for myself, I am the first to confess that I have never had a teacher; although I have always from my earliest youth desired to have one. But I am too poor to give money to the sophists, who are the only professors of moral improvement. As they accepted payment for their services there was a certain prejudice against the sophists, for this enabled those who could afford their instruction to acquire a definite superiority over their fellow- citizens (Sharma, 2002).



The prejudice against the sophists was intensified by the fact that they degraded knowledge by making its aim direct utility. Education was with the Greeks training for leisure, not for a livelihood. It was asked the Protagoras, ‘Why may you not learn of him in the same way that you learned the arts of grammarian or musician or trainer, not with the view of making any of them a profession, but only as a part of education and because a private gentleman ought to know them?


                  THE SOCRATIC METHOD

Socrates recognized the unscientific nature of the methods of the sophists, his own method was essentially systematic and founded on general principles. According  to




Aristotle, “There are two things which we may fairly attribute to Socrates, his inductive discourses and his universal definitions. Inductive reasoning was his method of arriving at a definition. The result attained by his method could not be regarded as satisfying the requirements of scientific exactness, but this did not disturb Socrates, for he himself continually and emphatically disclaimed the possession of any knowledge, except perhaps the knowledge of his own limitations.” The intoxicated Alcibiades says of him in the Symposium, ‘He knows nothing’ and is ignorant of all things—such is the appearance which he puts on.’ Although not possessing knowledge himself, Socrates claimed to have the gift of discerning its presence in others, and of having the power to assist them to bring it to light.


The first task of Socrates was to arouse men from that false self-satisfaction which was by him believed to be the cause of their misery, and to lead them to self-examination and self-criticism. He says “Herein is the evil of ignorance, that he who is neither good nor wise is nevertheless satisfied with himself: he has no desire for that of which he feels no want.” Socratic Mission was to make men feel this want, to teach others what the utterance of the Delphic oracle had taught him—his own ignorance; to imbue them with a divine discontent; to make them feel, as Alcibiades puts it the serpent’s sting’, ‘the pang of philosophy’. In his defence, Socrates neither disowned his mission nor his method. ‘I am that gadfly’, he told his judges, ‘which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you.”


                  THE DIALECTICAL METHOD

About the words of Socrates, Plato said, “You will find his words first full of sense, as no others are; next, most divine and containing the finest images of virtue, and reaching farthest, in fact reaching to everything which it profits a man to study who is to become noble and good.”


Unlike most philosophers, Socrates did not wish to influence others by his views; he did not wish to convince them about the validity and correctness of his views. Rather he wanted that everybody should be his own philosopher; should be critical and think for himself. He was convinced that every person had in him the germ for rational thought and the aim of philosophy was to bring rational thought to full blossom in everyone. The tendency among philosophers to persuade others to believe that their views are more valid gives rise to schools and controversies in philosophy. Socrates, on the contrary, did not wish to convert others to his views nor did he wish to propagate a set of philosophical views. He only wanted to draw attention of others to the crucial significance of philosophy for the life and inculcate in them a love for philosophy, that is, love of wisdom. The approach of Socrates is known as mimetic approach that is intellectual midwifery. As a midwife delivers a child of pregnant woman, Socrates wanted to bring to surface the germ of rational thought and critical inquiry. The whole approach of Socrates is summed up in two words—Dialectical Method.


Socrates was fully conscious of the value of knowledge. According to him, “Knowledge




is virtue”. Knowledge is vision of universal truths. To discover this knowledge Socrates used dialectical method. Though he invented and used dialectical method he has nowhere given a systematic description of this method. He did not commit his ideas to writing. His style of developing philosophical ideas was unique. He used to go down the market place and would draw philosophically inclined persons to discuss with him the real and objective meaning of such simple concepts as friendship, love, courage, virtue etc. In the course of his dialogue he would let people know that what he was interested in was not the conventional meaning but the real and objective meaning of the concepts. Thus he would direct the course of conversation. This method was dialectical because to all proposed meanings and definitions of concepts, Socrates would bring out the defects in them and thus persuade his interlocutor to modify his definition to rectify the defects pointed. This procedure of point and counterpoint would go on till a really satisfactory definition was found.


Thus dialectic was a means of discovery of objective and valid definitions of concepts familiarly used in daily life. It is not the condition of dialectical argument that the domain of the argument should be confined to the concept being discussed. It is indeed considered desirable to examine the allied and other concepts if classification of the concept in question calls for such a discussion.



Following are the salient features of this method:

  1. Methodological Socrates used to begin his conversation by pretending ignorance about the real meaning of a concept and wanted others to enlighten him on the subject. This pretence of ignorance is known as Socratic Irony in as much as Socrates exposed others to be ignorant and himself wise in spite of his earlier declaration to the contrary. Some scholars have criticized Socrates for concealing the truth that he knew the answer. This could only mean that he wished to humiliate his opponent. But such criticism is mistaken. The negativistic approach to the problem adopted by Socrates was really meant to let his interlocutors to exercise their minds and develop interest in the inquiry. Had he given a positive answer to begin with, others may have thus been defeated. As his purpose was to encourage in others to think independently, he found it a useful procedure to feign initial ignorance and let others present their views and not be carried away by the Socratic authority. The dialectical method is essentially based on methodological doubt, that is, a critical examination of the problem concerned. The critical examination and doubt about the validity of current beliefs is not scepticism for the sake of scepticism, but, on the contrary, it is a means and method to reach the truth and a safeguard against being duped easily. A man who questions and has an enquiring mind can alone be a philosopher, because people mostly have a strong will to believe and are very gullible. Only by constantly critical attitude can this natural tendency be countered.
  2. Another feature of the method which Socrates used is the use of dialogue or conversation for the development of ideas. A dialogue or conversation allows exchange of ideas; and it is only by certain tension and conflict of ideas that




the thought is refined and developed. A lecture or an essay is quite suitable for passing on scientific information. But philosophy is something other information. Therefore, for the unfoldment and development of philosophical ideas, it is essential that there should be a meeting of minds and exchange of ideas. This is possible only in philosophical conversation. That is why Plato, a disciple of Socrates, follows the dramatic form to develop his ideas. This allows for expression of various aspects of a problem.

  1. This feature of Socratic Method is also referred to as intellectual midwifery. The stimulation and incentive provided by an engaged conversation usually helps to bring to surface the latent ideas in the minds of men. Therefore, as a midwife delivers a child from the womb of the mother, intellectual converse delivers the latent ideas from the four walls of the unconscious mind.
  2. Conceptual and Semantic Socrates used to stress the need for correct and precise of definitions of the concepts. Like modern logical positivists and linguists, Socrates realised the paramount need for giving precise connotation and meaning to the concepts used in philosophy. In order to determine the meaning of a concept we have to abstract the general and universal features of things from their particular and individual aspects. Socrates tried to find precise meaning of the concepts like “justice”, “courage”, “companion”, “knowledge”, “virtue”, “friendship”, “love”, etc. As the main emphasis of Socrates in philosophy is upon the correct and precise use of the concepts, he did not do what modern semantics tries to do
  3. Empirical or Inductive. The subject matter of philosophic conversation of Socrates was provided by day-to-day affairs. This enquiry was always connected with some specific and concrete problem. For example, Socrates would urge others to define what is the meaning of friendship and by examining various forms of friendship try to discover something common to all of them. Therefore, the enquiry of Socrates was both empirical and
  4. Lastly, the enquiry of Socrates has the feature of being deductive. Though Socrates used to begin his enquiry with common place definition and examine all the popular ideas, his aim was the attainment of objective and universal truths. Therefore, he was not satisfied till he was able to establish deductively certain truths.
  5. To sum up, the dialectical method as employed by Socrates clearly displays the characteristics of
    1. Methodological doubt;
    2. Intellectual dialogue;
    3. Semantic precision, and
    4. Deductive and inductive determination of


                  THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE

The chief problem which engaged concentrated attention of Socrates was the challenge posed by the Sophists to objective truth and morality. Sophist means a wise man; and Sophists indeed were learned men who offered to teach against suitable payment the art of rhetoric’s and argumentation. They believed that there was no objective truth and morality and that each view was no more than one opinion of a particular person.




Therefore, superiority of an opinion is not to be proved by its inherent character but by the manner and force of an argument. Accordingly, they placed utmost emphasis on the art and science of argumentation. For them, “man (an individual) was the measure of everything” (Homo Mensura) and that truth is particular, individual and contextual. The belief in objective universal truth was a belief in chimera. It is obvious that such views are subversive of both philosophy and morality and open floodgates of opportunism and chicanery in politics. Socrates acknowledged that there was diversity of human opinions and that everybody unreflectively considered his opinion to be true. But, according to him, this was a very superficial view and that the popular fallacy about the nature of truth sprang from an utter misconception about the nature and meaning of truth. The problem of knowledge was the key to everything. The sceptics have no faith in human reason’s capacity to go beyond the particular. Socrates was convinced that human reason ultimately prevails and that man is capable of discovering the object and the universal.


In order to reach the truth, man must indeed be sceptical about all sorts of opinions entering his head. He should be able to cut through the false layers of prejudice and arbitrary assertion in order to pierce the truth. The foremost condition of reaching the truth is, according to Socrates, to make our ideas clear and know exactly what we are talking about. Thus, for Socrates, we obtained our knowledge through concepts. In order to appreciate fully the Socratic theory of knowledge, we must examine firstly his theory of concepts.


                  THEORY OF CONCEPTS

Socrates believed that knowledge was gained through the medium of concepts. A concept is an idea representing the characteristics common to all members of a class. A concept is opposed to a percept. A percept is an idea based on the observation of a particular thing, whereas a concept is an abstraction intellectually derived by considering the common features in a class of things. To illustrate: if we say that this is a book on philosophy, we have the percept of a particular book; but if we say books are printed materials designed to convey some ideas or information on some subject, the term ‘Book’ is a concept. When we say “book” we use a term applicable to all members of its class, whereas “this book” applies to “this” and no other book. A concept includes in it those qualities alone which are common to all members of a class; it must also have in it a quality which distinguishes it from other classes, otherwise the concept will be vague and ambiguous. For example, the concept “man” has quality of rationality and animality. However; if there were other creatures who were animals and rational, the above concept of man will be confusing. To illustrate; the concept of man as “biped (two footed) animal” is quite adequate, but the trouble arises when we note that all birds are two footed. The term “rational animal” is inadequate because we know of no animal which is rational. A concept, as we have noted, included only common or genetic features, the natural corollary from this point is that we cannot include those features in a concept which are peculiar to one or some of its members. For example, it will be erroneous to describe man as white- skinned, crazy, and stupid, genius, anglophile, misogynist or bigamist, because though some men no doubt have one or more above mentioned qualities, they are not found in other men.






Socrates tries to construct a concept or definition of concept by using familiar examples, and then, by a process of induction and the aim of suitable example, ventures to form a provisional definition. The provisional definition, in turn, is tested by trying to discover the exceptions. This process of definition, in turn, is tested by trying to discover the exceptions. This process is carried on till a wholly satisfactory definition is found. As Frank Thilly has observed, “The aim is always to discover the essential characteristics of the subject to be defined, to reach clear and distinct notions, or concepts. At times Socrates tests the statements made by going back at once first principles, criticizing statements in the light of basic definitions assumed to be correct.”



By reason here we mean objective and universal power in man by which he gains knowledge. Therefore, reason cannot be confused with intelligence. In the above sense, sophists denied that there was some rational faculty in man which he shared with other men. They took precipitation to be the source of all knowledge inasmuch as the sense organs of various people differ in their strength and modality, the perception of each man is peculiar to him, and, therefore, there is no agreement among men about things and morals. Every man is his own measure or rule. But Socrates vehemently opposed this theory and pointed out that beneath apparent diversity and chaos in human opinions, there is a fundamental agreement.


In order to establish the universality of knowledge, Socrates emphasized the importance of precise and clear definitions. By definitions we secure fundamental elements of things. As a matter of fact, definitions are nothing but linguistic expressions of concepts. The abstract concepts are in the mind and when these are clothed in language, these become definitions. The definition accordingly, has same elements and features as found in concepts. The definitions mention generic or common characteristics of a class and also mention its distinguishing mark. Without exactitude and precision in definitions, we must know the meaning of justice and the meaning should be such that no important aspect of justice is ignored in it an, moreover, it should be free from superfluity and ambiguity. For example, if we say that justice consists in paying back one’s debts, we have to ask ourselves if there are no special circumstances where paying back of debt may be immoral or unjust. To return a man’s pistol who is under a fit of anger is a dangerous proposition. Therefore, we should define justice more adequately. Similarly, as we saw above we had to define reason as a universal power in man, because otherwise the statement that Sophists decried the role of reason in knowledge will be misleading, because, as we know, even perception involves definite cognitive elements. Sophists were not unaware of this, but what they denied was that reason was a faculty which is common and same in everyone. They denied its universal nature. Thus we presume that reason and definition are two elements of paramount importance in knowledge.


                  KNOWLEDGE AND VIRTUE

The paramount interest of Socrates was ethical or practical. He wanted that knowledge should enlighten the path of each man’s life. Accordingly, he regarded upright conduct to




be of highest value and considered all else subservient to it. Virtue, for Socrates, was the summum bonum of life. He, however, considered the two to be identical. For him, knowledge is virtue or knowledge of what is good and right in conduct. He believed that no one did any wrong knowingly and that wrong action was bred by ignorance. This doctrine of Socrates is a little difficult to comprehend, because we find numerous examples of bad actions done knowingly. Socrates, as a matter of fact, overstressed reason and failed to appreciate the strength of irrational in man. Following words express the theory that knowledge is virtue.


“Then if virtue is one of the things in the soul, and if it must necessarily be helpful, if must be wisdom; since quite by themselves all the things about the soul are neither helpful nor harmful, but they become helpful or harmful by the addition of wisdom or senselessness.”


“But if we have ordered all our enquiry well and argued well virtue is seen as coming neither by nature nor by teaching, but by divine allotment incomprehensible to those to whom it comes.”


“Then from this our reasoning, Menon, virtue is shown as coming to us, whenever it comes, by divine dispensation but we shall only know the truth about this clearly when, before enquiring in what way virtue-comes to mankind, we first try to search out what virtue is in itself.”


Socrates firmly believed that right knowledge is the key to right conduct. As a matter of fact he held that no one ever committed any wrong knowingly, that vice was bred by ignorance about the nature of things rather than from the defect of the will. For example, ordinarily we attribute selfishness, aggressiveness, irritability etc. to his self-love and hatred of others. But according to Socrates, these traits are due only to lack of self- knowledge. Hence, the first dictum of Socrates’ moral theory is “know you”.



  1. Knowledge is the Goal of Life. The concern of Socrates is to define and describe the concept of good or summum bonum. There are various views with regard to the goal of human life.

According to some, it is pleasure, and according to others it is happiness. Still some other philosophers believe that the highest good is to follow the rules of Elders. But Socrates considered knowledge to be the Highest Good and therefore the true aim of life. This was so because he believed that knowledge was a sine qua non of all virtues and that if we knew what is right, we cannot do the wrong. Therefore, the knowledge of self and society was the key to moral life. Virtue is nothing else than knowledge.

Socrates used to say that “knowledge is virtue” and he tried to establish the proposition thus: Every man seeks happiness and happiness results from good deeds. In order to do good one must know what is good. That is, one must have the knowledge of the good. Therefore, knowledge is a condition sine qua non of moral conduct.




Side by side with knowledge, Socrates gave equal importance to will and desire in moral conduct. But he did not subscribe to the view that there was some antinomy between will and reason, or that dichotomy existed between will and reason. He firmly believed that no one could do any bad knowing it to be bad, nor could anybody do some good unconsciously. Therefore, for him will was subject to reason and was molded by knowledge. A moral good consisted in knowing what is good and doing it. There could be no virtue which was blind and unconscious. Without knowledge there could be no good and no virtue.

Socrates also held an opinion which is contrary to the above and unintelligible to common sense. According to him, a wrong committed in full knowledge is superior to a wrong committed unwittingly. Normally, we take a lenient view of a bad act which has been done accidently. For example, a person whose gun fires and kills someone while he is cleaning it is treated less harshly than a person who kills a man with his gun deliberately. Accordingly, the view of Socrates that known bad was superior to unknown bad would be tantamount to the belief that deliberate killing was preferable to accidental killing. Socrates’ moral theory, as a whole seems contrary to common sense and it has been subject to both practical and theoretical criticism. In practice we can cite numerous instances of vices indulged in knowingly. Many people drink and eat gluttonously and commit adultery, incest, sodomy, knowing them to be unpardonable wrongs. In theory, the belief that reason is subject to will is open to theoretical criticism.

However, the above criticism is considered to be based on a mistake. Socrates’ concept of ‘knowledge’ is no ordinary one. According to Socrates, a man of knowledge is a man of self-control. Therefore, the idea of knowledge, for Socrates, presupposes government of reason over will and desire. Socrates’ moral theory therefore is a blend of reason and will in a harmony.

  1. Virtue can be taught. Virtue is concerned with ‘will’ and ‘will’ becomes virtuous by habit and practice. Accordingly, we believe that it is not by reason but by repeated performance of good deeds, that we develop virtue. But Socrates held quite an opposite view. According to him virtue was knowledge and since knowledge was a system and a science, it could be taught. We sometimes give up many bad practices on learning their true nature. But, on the other hand, this is also a well- known fact that we know better but do Whether virtue is a matter of practice or matter of knowledge is a difficult question. Some emphasize the former whereas philosophers like Socrates stress the latter. However, as a matter of fact, there are both elements in virtue.
  2. Virtue is one. The traditional Greek moral theory held that there are four virtues: Wisdom, Courage, Temperance and Justice. Socrates, however, believed in a single virtue, that of knowledge. According to him, knowledge was the virtue of virtues and all virtues were progeny of knowledge.
  3. Virtue is Bliss. Accordingly, to Socrates there can be no happiness without virtue and no happiness is equal to that of virtue. Therefore, virtue, according to him, is bliss (Shrivastava, 2003).





Plato was born in 427 B.C., the son of noble parents. He first studied music, poetry, painting, and philosophy with other masters and became a pupil of Socrates in 407 B.C., remaining with him until the latter’s death (399 B.C.) when he accompanied Socrates to Megara. He founded a school in the groves of Academus, the Academy, where he taught mathematics and the different branches of philosophy, by means of connected lectures and the dialogue. His death occurred in 347 B.C.


The life of Plato can be divided into three ages. In the first age he received the education from his great master Socrates besides some other minor teachers. He lived with Socrates for eight years and received instruction and ideas in different fields of human thought. After the death of Socrates, perturbed as he was Plato went on his journey through Egypt, Cyrene, Italy and Cicley etc. For ten years he was roaming in different countries, observing their ways of life, social and political structures and institutions and discussing with scholars of different countries. It was in this age that he planned his important dialogues. During this period Plato’s thinking was generally centred around ideas, the universals. The dialogues written during this period do not exhibit much literary excellence. The important dialogues written during this period were Gorgias, Theatetus, Sophistes, Statesman and Parmenides.


After ten years of journey in different countries Plato’s mind was almost settled. He now returned to Athens and started third and the most important age of his life. He established an institution known as Academy of Gymnasium. Here he started to live as a teacher, a mathematician and a philosopher. For 40 years he educated hundreds of illustrious disciples and created dozens of dialogues up to his death at the age of 82 (Hummel, 1993).


    Aim of Education

According to Plato, man’s mind is always active. Man is attracted towards all things, that he sees in his surroundings, and he runs after them. The educator should take advantage of this propensity in the child and educate him. He should pay attention to the objects which surround the child. Such objects should be beautiful so that the child is naturally attracted to them and his curiosity is aroused. The process of education advances through this constant interaction between the stimulus by which the mind develops. For this reason the child should be kept in beautiful environment. In fact, the human individual requires such an environment not only in infancy but through his entire life, because, according to Plato, the process of education is never complete. It continues throughout one’s life. Plato has laid the greatest stress on mental development in education. He conceives of the state as an advanced mind. Education aims not merely at providing information but at training the individual in his duties and rights as a citizen. Just as the state evolves from the mind, the mind itself passes through all those stages of development through which the state passes. In Plato’s opinion, the aim of education is human perfection, and with this end in view, he suggests a curriculum which comprehends all subjects (Sharma, 2002).




    Curriculum of Education

Plato’s education has its objective in the realization of truth, a truth which is comprehensive, not limited or narrow. Plato, therefore, believes that development of the mind, body and soul is essential. For this reason, he has divided the curriculum into three parts:

  1. Bodily Development. Plato’s philosophy believes bodily development to be of the utmost importance in education, but this bodily development is achieved not merely through exercise and gymnastic activity, but also through a regulated and controlled The educator must guide and train the educand to attend to his food. He must be a kind of doctor who advises a particular kind of diet after acquainting himself with weaknesses of the educand’s body. This must be done in order to get rid of these debilities and finally to lead to complete development of the body.
  2. Educational Impressions. But it must be remembered that bodily development is only a means to mental development, because a healthy mind resides only in a healthy body. Although much importance is attached to bodily development, even greater importance is attached to mental development. Being under the influence of Pythagoras, Plato recommended the teaching of mathematics as of supreme The first step in the teaching of mathematics is the teaching of arithmetic. Geometry and algebra should then be taught. Plato believed that the teaching of mathematics can remove many mental defects. In addition to mathematics, Plato considered the teaching of astronomy as of great significance, as part of higher education.
  3. Training in Music. In order to achieve balance in education, Plato stressed the value of musical training as a supplement to training in gymnastics. Exercise is the source of bodily development while music helps in the development of the But music and literature taught to the student must be capable of building character. Plato suggested that the child’s curriculum should be purged of all literature and musical epics which tended to generate such qualities as cowardice, weakness, selfishness, egoism etc. He was critical of the epics of Homer and other contemporary poets on this ground. Plato considered balance in human life to be of the greatest importance, because in the absence of such a balance, man should neither fulfil his social obligations nor enjoy his own private life to the full.

Hence it can be concluded that Plato suggested a balanced curriculum for education.


    Role of Educator

In Plato’s plan of education, the educator is considered to have the greatest importance. He is like the torch bearer who leads a man, lying in a dark cave, out of the darkness into the bright light of the outside world. His task is to bring the educand out of the darkness of the cave into the light of the day. He is thus the guide.


In his methods of teaching Plato believes imitation to be of the greatest importance, for he realizes that the child learns a great deal through imitation. He will acquire the behaviour of the people among whom he is make to live. Hence, keeping in mind the status of the child, he should be made to live among people from whom he can learn good habits and avoid bad ones.




    Education According to Classes

Plato’s plan of education does not envisage uniform education for one and all. He accepted the concept of social stratification, and suggested that since different individuals had to perform different tasks in society, they should also be educated differently, in order to train each one in his own respective sphere. He believed that different individuals are made of different metals. Those made of gold should take up administration and government, while those made of silver were best suited for trade and defence. Others made of iron and baser metals should become labourers and agriculturists. The state must make different arrangements for the education of these different kinds of people, although Plato implicitly agrees that education of governing classes is of the greatest importance. The education of the other classes in society does not concern him very much.


Faced with the problem of determining the class of each individual, Plato suggested various kinds of tests to be conducted at different age levels. In the first place, primary education will be given to all between the ages of seven and twenty, following which a test shall be administered to everyone. Those who failed the test are to be sent to labour in the various occupations and productive trades. The successful candidates will be sent to the armed forces where training will be imparted to them for the next ten years. This will again be followed by a test; the failures will be compelled to remain in the armed forces while the successful ones will be sent to join the government. Then this governing class will be subjected to further education in science. Later on, one from among the governing class will be elected as the philosopher administrator whose task will be to look after the government and education of the state. This individual will occupy the highest position in the land, his word will be the law of the land. Apart from this supreme individual, all other members of the governing class will continue to receive education throughout their lives, most of this education consisting of teachings in philosophy. It is thus evident that Plato granted the highest place to philosophy in his educational scheme (Shrivastava, 2003).


Born in 384 B.C., in Stagira, a city of Greece, Aristotle had a silver spoon in his mouth right from his childhood. His father, Nicomachus, was the court physician of Philip of Macedon. Aristotle entered the famous Academy of the great philosopher Plato at the early age of 17 years. He stayed there for almost 20 years as a student and a teacher. In 347 B.C. after the death of his master Plato, Aristotle left the academy and started travelling. He went to Assos in Mysia and from there to Mitylene. He was called by the king Philip to look after the education of his son Alexander the Great, in 342 B.C. For seven years he was the tutor of Alexander after which he returned to Athens to establish the School known as Lyceum. It was also known as Peripatetic school because of the habit of Aristotle of walking while lecturing. His method of teaching was not only through lectures but also through dialogues. After the death of Alexander, the Great he was accused of sacrilege. He left Athens for Euboea where he died in 322 B.C.


Aristotle was master of dialectic. He was a great observer, a voracious reader and a specialist both in natural sciences as well as in philosophy. Among his writings one finds not only on metaphysics and logic but also on human sciences like psychology and ethics and politics as well as upon natural sciences (Hummel, 1993).





    Society as Educator

In an early dialogue of Plato’s, the Protagoras, Socrates asks Protagoras why it is not as easy to find teachers of virtue as it is to find teachers of swordsmanship, riding or any other art. Protagoras’ answer is that there are no special teachers of virtue, because virtue is taught by the whole community. Plato and Aristotle both accept the view of moral education implied in this answer. In a passage of the Republic (492 b) Plato repudiates the notion that the sophists have a corrupting moral influence upon young men. The public themselves, he says, are the real sophists and the most complete and thorough educators. No private education can hold out against the irresistible force of public opinion and the ordinary moral standards of society. But that makes it all the more essential that public opinion and social environment should not be left to grow up at haphazard as they ordinarily do, but should be made by the wise legislator the expression of the good and be informed in all their details by his knowledge. The legislator is the only possible teacher of virtue.


    Value of Education in the State

Aristotle assigns the paramount political importance to education. It is the great instrument by which the legislator can ensure that the future citizens of his state will share those common beliefs which make the state possible. The Greeks with their small states had a far clearer apprehension than we can have of the dependence of a constitution upon the people who have to work it.


If the state is the organisation of men seeking a common good, power and political position must be given to those who can forward this end. This is the principle expressed in Aristotle’s account of political justice, the principle of “tools to those who can use them.” As the aim of the state is differently conceived, the qualifications for government will vary. In the ideal state power will be given to the man with most knowledge of the good; in other states to the men who are most truly capable of achieving that end which the citizens have set themselves to pursue. The justness distribution of political power is that in which there is least waste of political ability.


According to Aristotle the virtue of a good citizen and good governor is the same as of a good man; and that everyone before he commands should have first obeyed, it is the business of the legislator to consider how his citizens may be good men, what education is necessary to that purpose, and what is the final object of a good life.


Now life is divided into labour and rest, war and peace; and of what we do the objects are partly necessary and useful, partly noble; and we should give the same preference to these that we do to the different parts of the soul and its actions, as war to procure peace; labour, rest; and the useful, the noble. The politician, therefore, who composes a body of laws ought to extend his views to everything; the different parts of the soul and their actions; more particularly to those things which are of a superior nature and ends; and, in the same manner, to the lives of men and their different actions. They ought to be fitted both for labour and war, but rather for rest and peace; and also to do what is necessary and useful, but rather what is fair and noble. It is to those objects that the education of the children ought to tend, and of all the youths who want instruction (Sharma, 2002).




    Education of the Child

When a child is born the strength of its body will depend greatly upon the quality of its food. People who desire that their children should acquire a warlike habit, feed them chiefly with milk, as being best accommodated to their bodies, but without wine, to prevent any distempers; those motions which are natural to their age are very serviceable; and those should be prevented which makes their limbs crooked. On account of their extreme ductility, some people use particular machines that their bodies may not be distorted. It is useful to enure them to the cold when they are very little; for this is very serviceable for their health; and to enure them to the business of war; whatever it is possible to accustom children to, it is best to accustom them to it at first, but to do it by degrees; besides, boys have naturally a habit of loving the cold, on account of the heat.


No Education upto Five Years

According to Aristotle, these, then, and such-like things ought to be the first object of our attention: the next age to this continues till the child is five years old; during which time it is best to teach him nothing at all, not even necessary labour, lest it should hinder his growth; but he should be accustomed to use so much motion as not to acquire a lazy habit of body; which he will get by various means and by play also; his play also ought to be neither illiberal nor too laborious nor lazy.


Imitation Theory of Play

Their governors and preceptors of children should take care what sort of tales and stories it may be proper for them to hear; for all these ought to pave the way for their future instruction: for which reason the generality of their play should be imitations of what they are afterwards to do seriously. They too do wrong who forbid by laws the disputes between boys and their quarrels, for they contribute to increase their growth; as they are sort of exercise to the body. The struggles of the heart and the compression of the spirits give strength to those who labour, which happens to boys in their disputes. The preceptors also ought to have an eye upon their manner of life, and those with whom they converse; and to take care that they are never in the company of slaves.


Home Education

At this time and till they are seven years old it is necessary that they should be educated at home. It is also very proper to banish, both from their hearing and sight, everything which is illiberal and the like. The legislator should banish every indecent expression out of the state: for from a permission to speak whatever is shameful, very quickly arises the doing it, particularly with young people. Let them never speak nor hear any such thing. If it appears that any freeman has done or said anything that is forbidden before he is of age to be thought fit to partake of the common meals, let him be punished by disgrace and stripes: But if a person above that age does so, let him be treated as you would a slave on account of his being infamous. As we forbid child speaking everything which is forbidden, it is necessary that he neither sees obscene stories nor pictures. The magistrates should take care that there are no statues or pictures of anything of this nature, except only of those gods to which the law allows persons of a certain age to pay their devotions, for themselves, their wives, and children. It should also be illegal for young persons to be present either at iambics or comedies before they are arrived at that age when they are allowed to partake of the pleasure of the table. “Indeed a good education will preserve” them from all the evils which attend on these things.”





According to Aristotle, what we meet with first pleases best: for which reason children should be kept strangers to everything which is bad, more particularly whatsoever is loose and offensive to good manners. When five years are accomplished, the two next may be very properly employed in being spectators of those exercise they will afterwards have to learn.


According to Aristotle, there are two periods into which education ought to be divided, according to the age of the child; the one is from his being seven years of age to the time of puberty; the other from puberty till he is twenty-one.


Education of Magistrates

Aristotle says, “No one can doubt that the magistrate ought greatly to interest himself in the care of youth; for where it is neglected it is hurtful to the city, for every state ought to be governed according to its particular nature; for the form and manners of each government are peculiar to itself; and these, as they originally established it, so they usually still preserve it.” Universally, the best manners produce the best government. Besides, as in every business and art there are some things which men are to learn first and be made accustomed to, which are necessary to perform their several works. So it is evident that the same thing is necessary in the practice of virtue.


Uniform System of Education

According to Aristotle, as there is one end in view in every city, it is evident that education ought to be one and the same in each; and that this should be a common care, and not the individual’s, as it now is when everyone takes care of his own children separately, and their instructions are particular also, each person teaching them as they please; but what ought to be engaged in ought to be common to all.” Besides, no one ought to think that any citizen belongs to him in particular, but to the state in general; for each one is a part of the state, and it is the natural duty of each part to regard the good of the whole. Aristotle praised Lacedaemonians for they give the greatest attention to education, and make it public. “It is evident, concludes Aristotle, then, that there should be laws concerning education and that it should be public.”


Curriculum of Child Education

According to Aristotle, “What education is, and how children ought to be instructed, is what should be well-known; for there are doubts concerning the business of it, as all people do not agree in those things they would have a child taught, both with respect to their improvement in virtue and a happy life: nor is it clear whether the object of it should be to improve the reason or rectify the morals.”


From the present mode of education continues Aristotle “we cannot determine with certainty to which men incline, whether to instruct a child in what will be useful to him in life; or what tends to virtue, and what is excellent: for all these things have their separate defenders.” As to virtue, there is no particular in which do they all agree: for as all do not equally esteem all virtues, it reasonably follows that they will not cultivate the same. It is evident that what is necessary ought to be taught to all: but that which is necessary for one is not necessary for all; for there ought to be a distinction between the employment of a freeman and a slave. The first of these should be taught everything useful which will not




make those who know it mean. According to Aristotle, “Every work is to be esteemed mean, and every art and every discipline which renders the body, the mind, or the understanding of freemen unfit for the habit and practice of virtue: for which reason all those arts which tend to deform the body are called mean, and all those employments which are exercised for gain; for they take off from the freedom of the mind and render it sordid.” There are also some liberal arts which are not improper for freemen to apply to in a certain degree; but to endeavor to acquire a perfect skill in them is exposed to the faults.


Aristotle points out that there are four things which it is usual to teach children; reading, gymnastic exercise, and music, to which (in the fourth place) some add painting. Reading and painting are both of them of singular use in life, and gymnastic exercise, as productive of courage. As to music, some persons may doubt, as most persons now use it for the sake of pleasure: but those who originally made it part of education did it because, nature requires that we should not only be properly employed, but to be able to enjoy leisure honourably. According to Aristotle “But, though both labour and rest are necessary, yet the latter is preferable to the first; and by all means man ought to learn what he should do when at rest: for he ought not to employ that time at play; for then play would be the necessary business of his lives. Play is more necessary for those who labour than those who are at the rest: for he who labours requires relaxation; which play will supply: for as labour is attended with pain and continued exertion, it is necessary that play should be introduced, under proper regulations, as a medicine: for such an employment of the mind is a relaxation to it, and eases with pleasure. Now rest itself seems to partake of pleasure, of happiness, and an agreeable life: but this cannot be theirs who labour, but theirs who are at rest; for he who labours, labours for the sake of some end which he has not. According to Aristotle, “Happiness is an end which all persons think is attended with pleasure and not with pain: but all persons do not agree in making this pleasure consist in the same thing; for each one has his particular standard, correspondent to his own habits; but the best man proposes the best pleasure, and that which arises from the noblest actions.” To live a life of rest there are some things which a man must learn and be instructed in. The object of this learning and this instruction centres in their acquisition. The learning and instruction which is given for labour has for its object other things. The ancients made music a part of education; not as a thing necessary, for it is neither of that nature, nor as a thing useful, as reading, in the common course of life, or for managing of a family, or for learning anything as useful in public life. Painting also seems useful to enable a man to judge more accurately of the productions of the finer arts: nor is it like the gymnastic exercise, which contribute to health and strength; for neither of these things do we see produced by music. The employment of our rest, they had in view who introduced it. It is a proper employment for freemen.


It is evident, then, that there is a certain education in which a child may be instructed, not as useful nor as necessary, but as noble and liberal. We have the testimony of the ancients in our favour, by what they have delivered down upon education—for music makes this plain. Moreover, it is necessary to instruct children in what is useful, not only on account of its being useful in itself, as, for instance, to learn to read, but also as the means of acquiring other different sorts of instruction. Thus they should be instructed in painting, not only to prevent their being mistake in purchasing pictures, or in buying or selling of vases, but rather as it makes them judges of the beauties of the human form. According to Aristotle, “To be always hunting after the profitable ill agrees with great and freedom souls.” Whether a boy should be first taught morals or reasoning, and whether his body or




his understanding should be first cultivated, it is plain that boys should be first put under the care of the different masters of the gymnastic arts, both to form their bodies and teach them their exercises.


Physical Education

Aristotle criticises those states which look the greatest care of their children’s education by bestow in their chief attention on wrestling, because it both prevents the growth of the body and hurts the form of it. The Lacedaemonians made their children fierce by painful labour, as chiefly useful to inspire them with courage: though, this is neither the only thing nor the principle thing necessary to attend to; and even with respect to this they may not thus attain their end. Aristotle points out that “we do not find either in other animals, or other nations, that courage necessarily attends the cruelest, but rather the milder, and those who have the dispositions of lions: for there are many people who are eager both to kill men and to devour human flesh, as the Achaeans and Heniochi in Pontus, and many others in Asia, some of whom are as bad, others worse than these who indeed live by tyranny, but are men of no courage.” The Lacedaemonians did not acquire their superiority by training their youth to these exercise, but because those who were disciplined opposed those who were not disciplined at all. What is fair and honourable ought then to take place in education of what is fierce and cruel: for it is not a wolf, nor any other wild beast, which will brave any noble danger, but rather a good man. According to Aristotle, “those who permit boys to engage too earnestly in these exercise, while they do not take care to instruct them in what is necessary to do, to speak the real truth, render them mean and vile, accomplished only in one duty of a citizen, and in every other respect, as reason evinces, good for nothing. Gymnastic exercise is useful during youth. It is very proper to go through a course of those which are most gentle, omitting violent diet and painful exercise as they may prevent the growth of the body. In support of his argument, Aristotle point out that amongst the Olympic candidates one can scarce find two or three who have gained a victory both when boys and men: because the necessary exercise they went through when young deprived them of their strength. When they have allotted three years from the time of puberty to other parts of education, they are then of a proper age to submit to labour and a regulated diet. According to Aristotle, “it is impossible for the mind and body both to labour at the same time, as they are productive of contrary evils to each other; the labour of the body preventing the progress of the mind, and the mind of the body”.


Education in Music

About the purpose of education in music Aristotle points out, “It is no easy matter to distinctly point out what power it has, nor on what accounts one should apply it, whether as an amusement and refreshment, as sleep or wine; as these are nothing serious, but pleasing, and the killers of care, as Euripides says; for which reason they class in the same order and use for the same purpose all these, namely, sleep, wine and music, to which some add dancing; or shall we rather suppose that music tends to be productive or virtue, having a power, as the gymnastic exercises have, to form the body in a certain way, to influence the manners so as to accustom its professors to rejoice rightly? Or shall we say that it is of any service in the conduct of life, and an assistant to prudence? For this also a third property which has been attributed to it.”




Difference in Learning and Playing

According to Aristotle boys should be instructed in music as play because those who learn don’t play, for to learn is rather troublesome.” Neither is it proper to permit boys at their age to enjoy perfect leisure; for to cease to improve is by no means fit for what is yet imperfect: It may be thought that the earnest attention of boys in music is for the sake of that amusement they will enjoy when they come to be men and completely formed: but, if this is the case, why are they themselves to learn it, and not follow the practice of the kings of the Medes and Persians, who enjoy the pleasure of music by hearing others play, and being shown its beauties by them; for of necessity those must be better skilled therein who make this science their particular study and business, than those who have only spent so much time at it as was sufficient just to learn the principles of it. But if this is a reason for a child’s being taught music they ought also to learn the art of cookery, which is absurd. The same doubt occurs if music has a power of improving the manners; for why should they on this account themselves learn it, and not reap every advantage of regulating the passions or forming a judgement on the merits of the performance by hearing others. The same reasoning may be applied if music is supposed to be the amusement of those who live an elegant and easy life, why should they learn themselves, and not rather enjoy the benefit of others’ skill.


Music for Harmony

According to Aristotle, the first question is, whether music is or is not to make a part of education? And of those three things which have been assigned as its proper employment, which is the right? Is it to instruct, to amuse, or to employ the vacant hours of those who live at rest? Or may not all three be properly allotted to it? For it appears to partake of them all; for play is necessary for relaxation, and relaxation pleasant, as it is a medicine for that uneasiness which arises from labour. It is admitted also that a happy life must be an honourable one, and a pleasant one too, since happiness consists in both these; and music is one of the most pleasing things, whether alone or accompanied with a voice: for which reason it is justly admitted into every company and every happy life, as having the power of inspiring joy. From this any one may suppose that it is necessary to instruct young persons in music; for all those pleasure which are harmless are not only conducive to the final end of life, but serve also as relaxations; and, as men are but rarely in the attainment of that final end, they often cease from their labour and apply to amusement, with no further view than to acquire the pleasure attending it. It is therefore useful to enjoy such pleasures as these. There are some persons who make play and amusement their end, and probably that end has some pleasure annexed to it, but while men seek the one they accept the other for it; because there is some likeness in human actions to the end; for the end is pursued for the sake of nothing else that attends it; but for itself only; and pleasures like these are sought for, not on account of what follows them, but on account of what has gone before them, as labour and grief; for which reason they seek for happiness in these sort of pleasures; and that this is the reason any one may easily perceive. That music should be pursued, not on this account only, but also as it is very serviceable during the hours of relaxation from labour, probably no one doubt. Music naturally gives pleasure; therefore the use of it is agreeable to all ages and all dispositions. It fills the soul with enthusiasm; which is an affection of the soul and strongly agitates the disposition. Music is one of those things which are pleasant. In poetry and music there are imitations of manners: Different harmonies differ from each other so much by nature, that those who hear them are differently affected, and are not in




the same disposition of mind when one is performed as when another is; the one, for instance, occasions grief and contracts the soul, others soften the mind, and as it were dissolve the heart: others fix it in a firm and settled state, while the others fill the soul with enthusiasm, as has been well described by those who have written philosophically upon this part of education; for they bring examples of what they advance from the things themselves. The same holds true with respect to rhythm; some fix the disposition, others occasion a change in it; some act more violently, others more liberally. Thus, it is evident that music has an influence over the disposition of the mind, and it can fascinate it variously and if it can do this, most certainly it is what youth ought to be instructed in. The learning of music is particularly adapted to young disposition; for at their time of life they do not willingly attend to anything which is not agreeable. Music is naturally one of the most agreeable things; and there seems to be a certain connection between harmony and rhythm: Some wise men held the soul itself to be harmony; others, that it contains it (Shrivastava, 2003).


  1. Explain the dialectical method of


  1. Describe the fundamental principles of Socratic


  1. Critically evaluate Plato’s idea of education according to


  1. Evaluate Plato’s theory of education and point out its contribution to the field of


  1. Discuss Aristotle’ aim of education


  1. Analyse Aristotle’ curriculum of education


  1. Analyze National ECE Curriculum 2007 on the basis of Aristotle’ aim of


  1. Compare the role of teacher described by Plato and Make a report of it and discuss in workshop.



Hummel, C. (1993).Aristotle, PROSPECTS: the Quarterly Review of Comparative Education (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. 23, no. 1/2, 1993, p. 39-51.


Sharma, R. N. (2002). Text Book of Educational Philosophy Publisher-Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi.


Shrivastava, K.K (2003). Philosophical Foundations of Education Kanishka Publishers, Distributors, New Delhi.






























Written by: Dr. Rahmat Ullah Bhatti Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





The word “philosophy” comes from the Greek philosophic, which literally means “love of wisdom“. Philosophy can be defined as the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. Western Philosophers are dividing into the following categories:


Ancient philosophy is that of the Greco-Roman world from the 6th century BC to the 6th century AD. Those Philosophers are usually divided into three time periods including the pre-Socratic period, the Socratic with Plato and Aristotle and finally the post- Aristotelian (or Hellenistic) period. Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe during the Middle Ages, roughly extending from the Christianization of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance.


Modern philosophers include those between the 17 century and 19 century, known as the age of reason as a lot of the text published was based on science. That period is also known as the Renaissance, a French word that can be translated to being born again. While the Contemporary Philosophers are the most recent philosophers, mainly from the 20th century.



After reading this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Describe John Lock’ theory of knowledge


  1. Discuss the role of parents in education of children


  1. Evaluate John Dewey’ philosophy of education


  1. Describe principles of curriculum formation


  1. Describe the impact of John Dewey’ philosophy on modern education


  1. Analyse Herbart’s theory of ideas


  1. Discuss the Herbart’s process of instruction


                  JOHN LOCK

John Locke was born on 29 August 1632 at Wrington in the county of Somerset in the south-west of England. His father was a lawyer and small landowner. Little is known about John Locke’s early education. However, at the age of 15 in 1647, he was sent to




Westminster School in London. Locke’s studies at Westminster were centred upon the classical languages of Latin and Greek, and he also began to study Hebrew. He was a hardworking boy and in 1650 was elected to a King’s scholarship. This gave him the right to free lodgings within the school, and also access to major scholarships at both Oxford and Cambridge. In 1652 Locke’s diligence was rewarded when he was elected to a £20 scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford.


Locke’s formal course at Oxford would have included classics, rhetoric, logic, morals and geometry, and he took his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1656. This was followed by further study for the Master of Arts degree, taken two years later, in June 1658. Other subjects of study with which he was concerned were mathematics, astronomy, history, Hebrew, Arabic, natural philosophy, botany, chemistry and medicine. In 1667, at the age of 35, Locke left the University of Oxford to take up a post in the household of the Earl of Shaftesbury at Exeter House in London.


All Locke’s published works, including those that had been issued anonymously, were bequeathed to the Bodleian Library, Oxford. His work in the field of education is an essay concerning human understanding (1690), two treatises of government (1690), and some thoughts concerning education (hereafter referred to as Thoughts).


                  A Theory of Knowledge

Although the Thoughts was most immediately concerned with education, by far the most important of Locke’s writings, and one which had great significance for education, was the Essay concerning human understanding (hereafter referred to as the Essay).


The Essay originated in 1671 when, a group of five or six friends met to discuss a point in philosophy. Locke’s purpose was to examine the nature and extent of human knowledge and the degree of assent which should be given to any proposition. He began by rejecting the doctrine of innate ideas, associated with Plato, and also in his own day with Descartes; indeed, the first book of the Essay was largely devoted to accomplishing this task. Unfortunately, Locke’s alternative image of the mind as a ‘white paper void of all characters’ (Essay, 2.1.2) has often been interpreted as meaning that all human beings start as equals. Locke did not believe this; on the contrary, he was conscious that the differing personalities and mental and physical capabilities of individuals were to some extent a product of nature rather than of nurture.


Locke’s rejection of innate ideas even extended to moral principles. Justice and faith were not universal, nor was the idea of God. Differences in the ideas of people stemmed not from differences in their abilities to perceive or release their innate ideas, but from differences in their experiences.


How then was knowledge acquired? How might men come to universal agreement? ‘To this I answer, in one word, from experience’ (Essay, 2. 1. 2). But experience itself, gained via the senses, was not sufficient of itself for knowledge. That also required the active agency of the mind upon such experience.




Locke, however, was neither a dogmatist nor a builder of systems. He acknowledged the possible existence of certain eternal verities—God, morality, the laws of nature—whose essence might be confirmed, rather than discovered by experience and reason. He also admitted the existence of some innate powers or qualities, recognizing that some children seem to be from birth innately more adept than others in certain respects. Nevertheless, in spite of these qualifications, Locke inclined towards nurture rather than nature and may be categorized as the founder of empiricism, a tradition that has predominated in English philosophical and educational thought until this day.


                  Parents and Children

Locke brought to the practice of education his own considered views on such subjects as philosophy, psychology, Christianity and government. His medical knowledge contributed to a concern for the physical, as well as the mental and spiritual, well-being of children. He was not only a founder of empirical thought, with all that meant for ways of learning, but he also may be counted as a pioneer of scientific psychology. He believed in the importance of observing children, and of tailoring education to their needs and capacities. Above all, though he was aware of innate differences between individuals, he was a firm believer in the power of education. As he stated in the first paragraph of the Thoughts: ‘Of all the men we meet with, nine parts of ten are what they are, good or evil, useful or not, by their education’ (Thoughts, s. 1).


The opening phrase of the Thoughts, ‘A sound mind in a sound body is a short, but full description of a happy state in this world’, a quotation from Juvenal, and indeed given in Latin in the letter to the Clarke family and in manuscripts prior to the first edition, launches the book into a discussion about the health of the child. Locke’s advice in this respect was generally sensible, if at times a trifle idiosyncratic. Thus his views on ‘plenty of open air, exercise and sleep; plain diet, no wine or strong drink, and very little or no physick’ (Thoughts, s. 30) would command general support today, though his advice on toughening the feet by wearing thin or leaky shoes so that gentlemen’s sons might acquire the ability, if necessary, to go barefoot as the poor do, might seem to be somewhat harsh. Locke’s advocacy of the benefits of cold water extended to teaching children to swim, both for the general promotion of their health and for the preservation of life (Thoughts, s. 8).


Food for children, according to Locke, should be plain and wholesome, with sugar, salt and spices used sparingly. Locke was generally in favour of fruit—apples, pears, strawberries, cherries, gooseberries and currants were encouraged—but he was less keen on melons, peaches, plums and grapes. Clothes should not be too tight, neither for boys nor girls—important advice in an age when swaddling was still prevalent.


Other recommendations designed to accustom children to cope with minor physical adversity were that beds should not be excessively comfortable, nor mealtimes necessarily regular. One element of regularity, however, enjoined by Locke at some length, was the importance of regular bowel actions.




From the body Locke turned to the mind. He believed that parents should personally exercise firm and close authority over their children from an early age, with a view to relaxing this as they grew older: ‘Fear and awe ought to give you the first power over their minds, and love and friendship in riper years to hold it’ (Thoughts, s. 42). Locke criticized the over-indulgence of little children, and abhorred obstinate crying on their part, but had little use for any form of physical chastisement. Instead he recommended the careful application of ‘esteem’ and ‘disgrace’ (Thoughts, s. 56), enjoined parents to set a good example, and warned against the interventions of servants who ‘by their flatteries […] take off the edge and force of the parents’ rebukes and so lessen their authority’ (Thoughts, s. 68).


He advised parents and tutors to study their children and to note their dispositions and dislikes: ‘for a child will learn three times as much when he is in tune, as he will with double the time and pains, when he goes awkwardly, or is dragged unwillingly to it’ (Thoughts, s. 74). Toys should be simple and sturdy, possibly fashioned by the children themselves, rather than expensive and fragile.


Understandably, given his own experiences and roles in life, Locke urged upon the Clarkes the merits of a tutor rather than a school. For Locke, the best means of education was that ‘children should from their first beginning to talk, have some discreet, sober, nay wise person about, whose care it should be to fashion them aright, and keep them from all ill, especially the infection of bad company’ (Thoughts, s. 90), and he advised parents to ‘spare no care nor cost to get such an one’ (Thoughts, s. 92).


A good tutor, or indeed a good parent, would be able to encourage and to satisfy the proper and persistent questions of children, to guide them away from cruelty towards animals or other children, and to teach them the value of truth.


The Thoughts were written for a specific purpose: the education of the son of a country gentleman. Fundamental features of that education—the employment of a tutor, the close supervision by parents, the curriculum, even the details of diet—would have been available only to a very small proportion of the parents and children of seventeenth- century England. Locke was well aware of the niceties of rank and fortune, and proposed different routes for the son of a prince, a nobleman, and an ‘ordinary gentleman’s son’. Locke believed in a top-down approach to education, and that priority should be given to the sons of the gentry. In the dedicatory epistle to the Thoughts, he stated that ‘if those of that rank are by their education once set right, they will quickly bring all the rest into order’.


Locke never wrote about popular education as such. Although in 1697, in his capacity as a Commissioner of Trade, he was involved with schemes for the establishment of workhouse schools which would have provided for destitute children aged 3 to 14 food, church attendance and craft training, Mason (1962, p. 14) concludes that ‘these proposals represent Locke’s contribution as an administrator rather than as an educationist’.




But although Locke was writing for a small minority of the population of his day, all boys and girls had parents, even though few children might go to school. Moreover, the theory of knowledge set out in the Essay was of universal application. In consequence, it is possible to argue that much of the advice to parents given in the Thoughts—good habits at an early age, paying attention to the child’s real needs, the use of esteem and disgrace rather than of corporal punishment to discipline children, the importance of good parental example—was applicable to all ranks in society. Yolton and Yolton (1989, p. 18) have argued that, though the Thoughts are concerned with the education of a gentleman’s son, the ‘treatise is less about gentlemen than it is about developing a moral character. Morality was not limited to gentlemen.’ This wider application was acknowledged by contemporaries, both within England and without.


                  Priorities in Education

Locke’s hierarchy of values in the education of a gentleman’s son was contained in four elements: virtue, wisdom, breeding and learning.


Virtue was placed first in the education of a gentleman by Locke as ‘absolutely requisite to make him valued and beloved by others, acceptable or tolerable to himself’ (Thoughts,

  1. 135). Such virtue depended upon ‘a true notion of God’ and a love and reverence for ‘this Supreme Being’ (Thoughts, s. 136), which was to be promoted by simple acts of faith—morning and evening prayers, the learning and recitation of the Creed. It also required the development of ‘a power of denying ourselves the satisfaction of our own desires, where reason does not authorize them’ (Thoughts, s. 38). Virtue, for Locke, was of supreme importance.


Wisdom was to be of a practical kind: ‘a man’s managing his business ably and with foresight in this world’ (Thoughts, s. 140). It did not mean being crafty or cunning, but rather to be open, fair and wise. Such wisdom Locke placed above the immediate reach of children, but children should be encouraged to strive towards this goal by becoming accustomed to truth and to sincerity, by submitting to reason and by reflecting upon the effects of their own actions. True wisdom involved the application of both reason and experience.


Good breeding was a subject upon which Locke had much to say. He sought to avoid a ‘sheepish bashfulness’ on the one hand and ‘misbecoming negligence and disrespect’ on the other (Thoughts, s. 141). Locke’s maxim for avoiding such faults was simple: ‘Not to think meanly of ourselves, and not to think meanly of others’ (Thoughts, s. 141). The best way to cultivate a proper conversation and behaviour was to mix with people of genuine quality. There is a foretaste of Newman’s ideal of a gentleman in Locke’s advice that two qualities are necessary: the first a disposition not to offend others; the second the ability to express that disposition in an agreeable way. A well-bred person would exhibit goodwill and regard for all people and eschew the habits of roughness, contempt, censoriousness, contradiction and captiousness. Not that children should be encouraged to an excess of ceremony, the ‘putting off of their hats and making legs modishly’ (Thoughts, s. 145).




Finally, Locke came to learning. He acknowledged that some might be surprised that this was to be placed last, especially by such ‘a bookish man’ (Thoughts, s. 147). Locke, of course, wanted all sons of gentlemen to acquire the basics of learning—to read, to write, to express themselves clearly and to count. But he did question the wisdom of trying to bring everyone to a knowledge of Latin and Greek, especially if such knowledge was to be instilled by fear and physical punishment.


Mason (1965, p. 70–71) has suggested that it is possible ‘to regard each of Locke’s essentials of a good education as the culmination of those broad influences conveniently termed the Christian, the Humanist, Courtesy and rationalist traditions’. This is a useful analysis but the identification should not be pressed too closely. The more important point to be made about Locke’s list is that he gave priority to those concerns (virtue, wisdom, breeding) which continue throughout life, rather than to that type of ‘learning’ which is frequently associated with the formal schooling of the young.


                  The Curriculum

Consideration of Locke’s views on priorities in learning leads naturally to an examination of his proposals on the curriculum. Locke had an overall view of the curriculum which was coupled with teaching methods. He believed in starting with the plain and simple, and of building, as far as possible, upon children’s existing knowledge, of emphasizing the interconnections and coherence of subjects.


Children should be taught to read at the earliest possible age—as soon as they can talk. But the learning should not be irksome; on the contrary, Locke believed that it would be better to lose a whole year rather than to give a child an aversion to learning at this early stage. Locke commented upon how much energy, practice and repetition children happily put into play, and therefore suggested ‘dice and play-things with the letters on them, to teach children the alphabet by playing’ (Thoughts, s. 148). From letters they should proceed to syllables and then to easy and pleasant books, such as Aesop’s Fables, preferably in an edition which included pictures. Locke advocated the use of ‘pictures of animals […] with the printed names to them’ (Thoughts, s. 156). In recognition of the difficulties inherent in such essential learning as The Lord’s Prayer, Creeds and Ten Commandments, Locke recommended that these should be learned not from the printed word but orally and by heart. Locke warned against the use of the Bible as a reading book for children, a most common practice in his day, ‘for what pleasure or encouragement can it be to a child to exercise himself in reading those parts of a book, where he understands nothing?’ (Thoughts, s. 158).


Writing should begin with correct holding of the pen and the copying of large letters from a sheet. Writing would lead naturally to drawing, with due attention to perspective, a most useful skill for those who would engage in travel, so that buildings, machines and other interesting phenomena might be quickly sketched. Locke believed that a good drawing was more useful in conveying an idea to the mind than several pages of written description. Locke also urged the value of shorthand for the purpose of making quick notes.




As soon as children could speak English they should begin French, by the conversational method. Once children could speak and read French well, a task which Locke envisaged would take but a year or two, they should begin Latin. Latin, Locke declared, was ‘absolutely necessary to a gentleman’ (Thoughts, s. 164), and once again he advised that it should be taught by the conversational method. Locke was against plunging children into a mass of grammatical rules, observing that if English could be learned naturally then the same must be true of other languages. He was also against the common practice of writing elaborate themes and verses in Latin. If there was a difficulty in securing a tutor who could teach through conversation, then Locke recommended the use of easy and interesting books in Latin, with the literal English translation written between the lines of Latin. Latin, of course, was still essential for certain professions and for attendance at the universities, for many lectures and books were provided only in Latin. But Locke also recognized that Latin (and Greek) occupied too large a part in the curricula of his day, particularly for boys who were intended for trade or farming. These would be better employed in learning to write a good hand and to maintain accounts, skills not generally taught in seventeenth- century grammar schools. Locke was also doubtful about the value of memory training, particularly the practice of learning pages of Latin by heart to promote this faculty. If children were to learn by heart it should be the learning of maxims, rules and other knowledge which had a direct utility in itself.


Other subjects which Locke commended for a gentleman’s son included geography, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, chronology, and history, and generally in that order. Locke was particularly keen on this last: ‘as nothing teaches, so nothing delights more than history’ (Thoughts, s. 184). History would naturally lead on to a study of law and government, subjects of importance for future gentlemen who might be required to assume public office, either locally as Justices of the Peace, or at Westminster as Members of Parliament. Reasoning and eloquence, other skills necessary for public life, Locke urged, were best gained by practice and not by formal studies in rhetoric and logic.


In respect of science, which in the seventeenth century was usually referred to as natural philosophy and lacked disciplinary organization as such, Locke urged the study of the several manifestations of nature even though ‘all the knowledge we have […] cannot be brought into a science’ (Thoughts, s. 193).


The curriculum should also include other types of accomplishment. Dancing was recommended from an early age, though learning to play a musical instrument was not encouraged as ‘it wastes so much of a young man’s time’ (Thoughts, s. 197). The two military exercises of fencing and riding the ‘great horse’ or charger were commended, though Locke feared that fencing might lead to duelling and on that ground suggested wrestling as an alternative.


Locke also advised that every gentleman’s son should learn at least one manual trade, and preferably two or three. Such a skill might be useful in itself, should the gentleman fall on hard times, but also promoted physical well-being and was a useful antidote to too much bookish study. Locke, who was himself a keen gardener, recommended ‘gardening or




husbandry in general, and working in wood, as a carpenter, joiner or turner, these being fit and healthy recreations for a man of study, or business’ (Thoughts, s. 204). Other recommended pursuits included varnishing, engraving and working in base and precious metals. Locke advised all gentlemen and their sons to learn merchants’ accounts.


Though Locke put much store by recreation, he warned against such sedentary and potentially ruinous pastimes as cards and dice. On the other hand, he was a keen advocate of foreign travel, though he thought that this usually took place at the wrong age— between 16 and 21. Locke urged that children should either go abroad, with a tutor, between the ages of 7 and 14, so that they might learn foreign languages quickly and effectively, or after the age of 21 when, as young men of some maturity and experience, they might travel without supervision (Aldrich, 1994).


                  JOHN DEWEY

John Dewey, greatest of the pragmatists and generally recognized as the most outstanding philosopher his country has yet produced, made significant contributions to virtually every field of philosophy as well as to such other areas of inquiry as education and psychology. Active for 70 years as a scholar, he was a prolific writer publishing approximately fifty books and more than eight hundred articles. Many of these have been translated into various foreign languages. New volumes are still coming out with more Dewey material, mainly correspondence, and books and articles on him are appearing at a rapidly increasing rate.


Philosophy of Education

  1. Analysis of reflective inquiry. Perhaps the most important single emphasis of John Dewey is his insistence upon applying reflective or critical inquiry to problems or indeterminate situations. What is involved in problem solving or thinking through a problem? What is critical inquiry? How does one apply intelligence to human affairs? Dewey’s answer to these questions is set forth in its simplest terms in How We Think, and a more sophisticated version is given in Logic; The Theory of In a sense the phases or steps in a complete act of reflective thinking afford an outline for each of his major works, and he had a lifelong concern with what is involved in reflective thinking.
  2. View of experience. Experience is one of the central concepts in Dewey’s thought, occurring and recurring throughout his Though he finally concluded that he might have done better to use another term, many of his most important works are concerned with clarifying it—for example, his Casus Lectures: Experience and Nature or his Art as Experience or Experience and Education. For him experience constitutes the entire range of men’s relations to, or transactions with the universe. We experience nature and things interacting in certain ways made up of experience.


  1. View of Knowledge. Dewey rejects the traditional epistemology which sets up a knower outside the world and then asks about the possibility, extent and validity of knowledge in general. He laughingly suggests that we might equally well have a problem of digestion in general—its possibility, extent, and genuineness—by assuming that the stomach and the food-materials were inhabitants of different




worlds. The significant problem is not how such a knower is somehow to mirror the antecedently real but rather one how one set of experienced events is to be used as signs of what we shall experience under another set of conditions. The important distinction, moreover, is not between the knower as subject and the world known as object. Instead it is between different ways of being in the movement of things, between an unreflective physical way and a purposive, intelligent one.

On Dewey’s view knowledge needs to be placed in the context of the problematic or indeterminate situation and reflective inquiry. Knowledge is more than immediate awareness or the presence of a set of sense data. Having qualities before us does not constitute knowing. Knowledge is always inferential, and the problem is how the processes of inference are to be guided to trustworthy or warranted conclusions. It involves operations of controlled observation, testing, and experimentation. It is a product of inquiry—the steps in a complete act of reflective thinking. Dewey liked Bacon’s idea that knowledge is power and it may be tested by the promotion of social progress.

  1. Conception of philosophy. In “The Need for a Recovery of Philosophy” Dewey declares that philosophy must cease to be “a device for dealing with the problems of philosophy” and become “a method, cultivated by philosophers for dealing with the problems of men”. But the problems of man as he sees them cover a range broad enough to include in one way or another most of the traditional problems as well as many The method involves treating philosophy as vision, imagination and reflection; and though the clarifying process may show that certain epistemological problems are pseudo- problems, the fact that they are raised may point to genuine cultural crises. If action at all levels needs to be informed with vision, imagination and reflection to bring clearly to mind future possibilities with reference to attaining the better and averting the worse, there is more than enough for philosophy to do.
  2. What is sometimes referred to as Dewey’s biologism reflects:
    • His emphasis on the genetic point of view, and
    • His conviction that inquiry has a biological


He was interested in how ideas originate and become more complex, in the parallels between human responses and lower levels, and in the continuity of different species of organic life from the lowest forms to man. To understand the present situation, he held, we inquire into its specific conditions as well into its probable consequences.

  1. Dewey’s experimentalism relates to his analysis of reflective inquiry for which hypotheses, prediction and experimentation are central. An experiment is a programme of action to determine consequences. It is a way of introducing intelligence into a situation. It is an intelligently guided procedure for discovering what adjustments an organism must make to its environment to ward off ill or secure goods. Experimentation for Dewey is relevant not merely on the individual biological level, but wherever planned reconstruction of a situation may help effect desired transformation, for example, in social planning or in education. The more important the issue at stake, the more clearly is experimentation seen to be preferable to such alternatives as authoritarianism, simple guesswork or merely waiting for events to run their course.




  1. Dewey’s instrumentalism also stems from his analysis of reflective inquiry. Ideas are not copies, images or visions of external objects but rather tools or instruments to facilitate an organism’s behaviour. They are instruments for operating on things or on stimuli. Things or objects are what we can do with them, and we can distinguish among them by the behaviour reactions they make possible.

Truth, accordingly, is adverbial. It is a way ideas work out in practice. It is a matter of whether hypotheses lead to predicted consequences, an affair of verified predictions of warranted assertions.

Dewey’s instrumentalism encourages a new respect for instruments or means. The more we value ends or goals, on his view, the greater is our attention to the means which may bring them about. The separation of goods into natural and moral or into instrumental and intrinsic may have the harmful consequence of making moral and intrinsic goods more remote from daily living besides encouraging us to think that we can have the intrinsic without having to concern ourselves with the instrumental. Viewing any good as merely instrumental, moreover, is fairly sure not to do it justice.

  1. Dewey’s relativism is to be opposed to absolutism and is a way of stressing the importance of context, situation, relationships. To take things out of relations is to deprive them of value and meaning. Absolutes are ruled out on his view, and unqualified generalisations are likely to be misleading. An economic policy or a plan of action is a good relative to a specific situation which makes it desirable. A knife may be good for sharpening pencil and bad for cutting a rope; but to speak of it without qualifications as good or bad is quite misleading.
  2. In ethics, according to Dewey’s account in Reconstruction in Philosophy, the emphasis should be placed on improving or bettering our present situation rather than upon good or bad in some absolute sense. The good, if one is to speak of the good rather than the better, is what will enable us to solve the problem or difficulty. Thus what is usually referred to as a moral end or standard becomes on this view a hypothesis as to how to overcome a moral problem. Since every problematic situation is unique, values are also unique; but if one is to specify an end, then growth, education, or problem solving would be that end. Instead of treating acquisition of skill and attainment of culture as ends, we should see them as marks of growth and means to its continuing difficulties or furthering growth.
  3. Dewey’s humanism stems from his acceptance of the Baconian view that knowledge is tested by promotion of human intelligence based in good part on the experience of modern science for the sake of bettering the human situation.

Supernaturalism and the usual dogmas of revealed religion have no place in Dewey’s view. As he tells us in A Common Faith, the things of greatest value in civilization exist by the grace of the continuous human community in which we are a link and we have the responsibility of conserving, transmitting, rectifying and expanding our heritage of values in order that those who come after us may share it more generously and more securely. Our common faith draws its main stand from our attempt to carry out this responsibility.

  1. Education and experience. Most of the major theses in Dewey’s general philosophy find expression in his philosophy of education. Reflective inquiry is as central for education, on his view, as for any other phase of life or Indeed, for him




education is a problem solving process, and we learn by doing, by having an opportunity to react in real life situation. In education not indoctrination, but inquiry is focal. Not simply amassing facts but learning to apply intelligence to problem solving has top priority. Education must be experimental without being simply improvisation.

The reconstructive purpose is as much at work in education as anywhere else in experience. As he says in Democracy and Education, “Education is a constant reorganizing and reconstructing of experience”. Present experiences must be so guided as to make future experiences more meaningful and worthwhile. Though the value and the knowledge of the past are transmitted, this must be done in such a fashion as to broaden, deepen and otherwise improve them. Criticism and not simply passive acceptance is demanded.

Dewey equates education and growth. As teachers we start with the child where he now is, with his present stock of interests and knowledge and seek to help him expand and enrich both his interests and his knowledge and grow as a person in his community and his society. He learns to work responsibly for his own development and for social conditions which will encourage a similar development for all other members of his society. Education must not be simply a means to something else. It should not be merely preparation for the future. As a process of growth it should have its own enjoyable and intrinsically rewarding features at the same time that it helps further continued education, and, on Dewey’s view, the test of our social institutions may be found in their effect in furthering continued education or growth.

Dewey himself had considerable reservations over some features of “progressive education”, but he continued to emphasize some of the strengths of the newer education as compared with the traditional outlook. His humanism and meliorism are richly exemplified in his account of the theory and practice of education. His philosophy of education stresses the social nature of education, its intimate and multiple relations to democracy, and its cultural significance.


Aims of Education

According to Dewey the aim of education is the development of child’s powers and abilities. It is impossible to lay down any definite principle for a particular kind of development, because this development will differ from one child to the next, in conformity with the unique abilities of the individual. The educator should guide the child according to the abilities and powers he observes in it. It is better, in Dewey’s opinion, to leave the question of educational objectives unanswered. If a definite aim is ascribed to education, it may do very great harm by compelling the teacher to guide the educand in a particular direction, not in keeping with the innate abilities of the child. In general, the aim of education is to create an atmosphere in which the child gets an opportunity to be active in and contribute to the social awakening of the human race. From the pragmatic standpoint, education aims at creating social efficiency in the child. Man is a social being who must develop within the confines of society, outside which he cannot develop at all. For this reason, education must aim at creating social efficiency and skill.


Pragmatic education aims at instilling democratic values and ideals in the individual, at creating a democratic society in which there is no distinction between one individual and




another, each individual is completely independent and willing to cooperate with others. Every individual must be given the freedom to develop his own desires and achieve his ambitions. Every individual must be equal to every other member of society. Such a society can be created only when there is no fundamental difference between the individual and collective interest. Hence, education should create co-operation and harmony among individuals, instilling democratic values in school going children. In fact, the school itself is a miniature form of a democratic society in which the child undergoes various forms of development, of which moral education and development is the most important. Morality can be developed through active participation, because such participation in the activities of the school trains the child in shouldering responsibility. This develops the individual’s character and grants him social skill. Equality of opportunity in the school helps to develop boys and girls according to their own individual traits and inclinations.


Pragmatic education is basically practical inasmuch as it aims at preparing the individual for future life in such a manner that he can fulfil his requirements and achieve contentment. Future life in the pragmatic sense implies not merely individual life but also social life. Dewey was critical of the contemporary modes of education because they tend to drive the child away from democratic life by giving advantages to a small section of society. It also lays more stress on book or formal teaching than is really desirable. This mode of teaching compels the educand to listen long lectures which blunt his own mental powers. Hence, Dewey laid the foundations of a progressive education in the form of a Progressive School which aimed at establishing democratic values and developing the child’s personality.


Dewey believed that the educational process has two aspects— psychological and social.

  1. The curriculum and the method of education should be determined by the child’s instincts and abilities.

The child should be educated according to his interest and inclination. Education should be attempted only after discovering the interests of the child, and these should be used as the basis for determining the curricula for the various stages of education.

  1. All education has its beginnings in the individual’s participation in the social consciousness of the race. Hence it is necessary to create an atmosphere in the school which will allow the child to take an active part in the social awakening of his group. This improves his conduct and develops his personality and abilities.

Principles of Curriculum Formation

Dewey has stressed the following four principles as underlying the formation of educational curricula:

  1. The curriculum imposed on the child must have some utility, meaning thereby that curriculum should be based on the child’s interests and inclinations during various stages of his development. In general, the child evinces four major interests— the desire to talk and exchange ideas, discovery, creation and artistic expression. The curriculum should be conditioned by these four elements, and designed to include the teaching of reading and writing, counting, manual skill, science, music and other arts. It is not desirable to introduce the child to all these subjects at once, but to teach a subject only when it is desired at a particular stage of mental development.




  1. It is better for the curriculum to be flexible and not predetermined and rigid. It must be capable of accommodating the changes in the child’s interests and inclinations.
  2. The curriculum should be related to the child’s contemporary experiences, and these can be multiplied and reinforced by presenting different kinds of activities in the guise of problems which inspire the child to attempt a solution. In this way, the variety of his experiences can be increased. As far as possible, the teaching of each subject should be related to the content of the child’s experiences.
  3. Close to life. As far as possible, the curriculum should include only those subjects which can be related to the child’s pattern of life at that particular stage. This proximity to life can help in creating a distinctive unity in the knowledge imparted to him and thereby some harmony can be created in the teaching of history, geography, mathematics and language, Dewey was very critical of the contemporary method of dividing knowledge into separate compartments, because he felt that such fragmentation of knowledge was unnatural. As far as possible the various subjects in the curriculum should be harmonized.


Educational Method

Dewey, himself a successful educational psychologist, has presented many novels and useful ideas on educational methods in his two books, How We Think and Interest and Efforts in Education.

  1. Learning by doing. The most well-known principle enunciated by him is the theory of learning by doing, in which the child learns best when he himself performs actions related to particular subjects. The educator is not to stuff the child’s mind with information he himself has gathered throughout his life, but to guide the child to those activities by which the child can develop his own natural abilities and The child should be acquainted with facts while he is engaged in activity relating to those facts. Besides, the child should be confronted with practical difficulties and problems which he should try to solve. Problem solving is a god technique because it adds to the child’s experience.
  2. Integration of life and subjects. Dewey is of the opinion that there should be integration between the child’s life, his activities and the subjects he studied. All subjects to be taught to the child should be arranged around his activities in such a manner that he acquires knowledge in the process of doing activities to which he is Dewey’s principle was later on adopted by Mahatma Gandhi in his plan of basic education.
  3. Catering to child interest. The next question that arises is that of designing the method of teaching according to the child’s interests. Dewey considers interest and effort to be of supreme importance in the process of education. The educator must understand the child’s interest before organizing the activities which are useful for the child. Given the opportunity to formulate programmes on their own, children will be able to make programmes according to their own interests. It is better if this effort is free of any fear or compulsion, because only then can the children make a programme independently. Once this is done, all school activity takes on the form of self-willed activity. Dewey’s ideas on educational methods later on led to the evolution of the project method in which the child was made to indulge in those activities which helped in the development of enthusiasm, self-confidence, self- reliance and originality.




  1. Participation in collective activities. In a democratic educational pattern, the child should be made to participate in collective activity which can help in evolving a co- operative and social

This method of education is apparently very suitable inasmuch as it meets the requirement of educational psychology. But in fact it has one inherent shortcoming that if the education of the child is fashioned exclusively according to the child’s natural inclination he will remain ignorant of many subjects. Besides, even his knowledge of other subjects will remain disorganized, objections which are accepted by Dewey himself.


Role of the Educator

Pragmatic education grants considerable importance to the educator, who is conceived as a servant of society. His task is to create in the school an environment which will help in the development of the child’s social personality and enable the child to become a responsible democratic citizen. Dewey considers the educator to be so important that he goes so far as to call him God’s representative on earth.


In determining the educator’s own behaviour in the school, Dewey accepts democratic principles and educational psychology as suitable guides for shaping the educator’s conduct. In order to realize the values of equality and independence in the school, the educator should not treat himself as superior to the children. He must also consciously abstain from imposing his own ideas, interests, views and tendencies on the children. He must confine his own activity to an observation of the child’s own natural inclinations and personality traits, to engaging the child in suitable activities which will help in developing these traits. Hence, it is essential for the educator to pay constant attention to the individual differences of the children. If this is done, administration of the school becomes easier. The educator must also try and engage the children in activities which compel them to think and reason out things for themselves.



If the educator conducts himself on the lines suggested above, discipline in the school becomes easy. Difficulties arise only when discipline takes the form of an external force employed to restrain the child from expressing his natural desires. This is the traditional concept of discipline, which was severely criticised by Dewey. He argued that discipline depends not only upon the child’s own personality but also upon the social environment in which he is placed. True discipline takes the form of social control and this is evolved when the child engages in collective activity in the school. It is therefore desirable to create an atmosphere in the school which encourages the children to live in mutual harmony and co- operation. Discipline and regularity of habit can be induced in children by making them act in consonance with each other in trying to achieve a single objective. This objective may be social, moral, intellectual or purely physical. School programmes go a long way in creating the child’s character. It is therefore better to provide the child with a social environment and a mode which inspire him to self-discipline rather than to subject him to long lectures. By methods such as these the child can be turned into a really social being. A peaceful atmosphere is undoubtedly conducive to good and rapid work, but peace is only a means, not an end in itself. The educator’s real task is to engage the children in work which suits their natural inclination. If, in the process, the children




come into conflict with each other, it is not desirable to scold them and compel them to be peaceful. Self-discipline is a better weapon, and this can be taught through responsibility. When the educand is faced with the responsibility of looking after most of the work of the college or school he automatically evolves self-discipline.


Participation in social activity is an essential part of educational training, in Dewey’s opinion. The school itself is a rudimentary form of society. If the child is encouraged to take part in all collective activities in the school, he will not only be able to maintain discipline in the school, he will also be simultaneously trained for many activities he must perform in social life. Thus he will also learn to lead a disciplined life as an adult.


Impact on Modern Education

Many of Dewey’s ideas have had great impact on modern education. Some important facts in this connection are:

  1. Impact on the aims of Nowadays, one of the important aims of education is the teaching of democratic values. Dewey insisted on developing social qualities in the child. In modern schools these aims of education have been accepted as valid.


  1. Impact on educational methods. The greatest impact of Dewey’s ideas is seen in the methods of education in more recent times. Dewey suggested that education should be based on the child’s own experience, and also that the method of teaching should vary according to the interests and inclinations of each individual child. These ideas influenced modern teaching techniques and led to active teaching in schools. One such school is the Activity School. The project method is also a result of Dewey’s ideas. Even in the other schools, attention is paid to the principles of child psychology which guide the educator in creating an atmosphere suitable for developing social consciousness in the
  2. Impact on The impact of Dewey’s ideas on the subject of curriculum led to the introduction of manual skill subjects into modern curricula. Special importance is now being attached to various kinds of games, objects, the use of certain tools and implements, etc. In selecting the subjects to be taught, attention is now paid to the individual interests and abilities of the child.
  3. Impact on discipline. As a result of Dewey’s theorizing on the subject of discipline, now the educand is entrusted with much of the work done in the school. In this manner the educand is trained in self-control and democratic citizenship. Apart from this, once the educand has to face responsibility, he is compelled to think scientifically and reason out things for
  4. Universal education. Dewey’s thinking and ideal also led to faith in universal and compulsory Education aims at the development of personality. Hence every individual must be given the opportunity to develop his personality through education. The current stress on the scientific and social tendency owes much to Dewey’s influence. He pointed out that education was a social necessity, in that it was not merely a preparation for life, but life itself. It aimed at the development of both the individual as well as society. This leads to the comprehensive development of the individual. (Ornstein & Levine 2008; Sharma, 2002; Shrivastava, 2003).





Herbart was born in 1776 at Oldenburg in Germany. His parents were educated. Hence, early education of Herbart was accomplished by his mother. This so much inspired child Herbart that he began to write about spiritual subjects from his early childhood. For higher education, he joined the Jena University where he was powerfully influenced by the ideology of neohumanism which pervaded the whole Idealistic atmosphere of the University.


Here, Herbart imbibed firm belief that it was only through education that spiritual values could be inculcated in the human beings. He completed his university education up to 1799 after which for three years he engaged himself as a tutor to the children of the Governor of Switzerland.


During this period, he gained valuable experience about individual difference, mental development together with principles of educational psychology. Later on, these experiences formed the basis of his educational theory.


Upto 1802, Herbart remained engaged, delivering lectures at Gottiangen University on philosophy and educational theory. In 1809 he became a Professor at Kunishburg University. Here, up to 1835 Herbart tried to modify and mould his education and psychological principles for the purpose of translating them into practice. While working in Kunisburg University, he wrote two famous books namely— (1) Science of Pedagogy and (2) Outlines of Pedagogical Theory. He also opened a school where he conducted various experiments on education and trained some teachers in the art of teaching. He died in 1841.


Herbart’s Theory of Ideas

Man has certain mental sensations if he confronts certain objects. He becomes conscious of them and acts in the most appropriate way towards them. To Herbart these simple elements of consciousness are ideas. When man resists in face of destructive forces, ideas take root in his mind. These ideas do not disappear easily. They struggle to be uppermost in the consciousness.


Herbart classifies ideas in three divisions, viz., similar, disparate and contrary. If a new idea happens to be similar to the ideas already in the uppermost consciousness that idea loses its independent entity and fuses with the old ones making up a homogeneous whole. When more than one idea group together in this way they become more magnetic to attract similar ideas.


On the contrary, if the new idea is dissimilar or disparate to an already existing idea in the mind it also combines but does not make a homogeneous whole. Two similar ideas mix together, but two dissimilar ideas combine together in a distinguishable manner.


Sounds coming from various instruments of an orchestra fuse together and appear to be one because they are similar notes. Similarity of the notes presents a homogenous whole and it becomes almost impossible to distinguish the notes coming from different instruments.




The colour of the floor, the musician and the sound of the musical instrument are three dissimilar ideas. Yet they form a complex whole and they are an object of perception to us as a whole, though the idea of each of them will ever remain separate.


According to Herbart each new idea is accepted, modified or rejected in the above manner according to its being similar, dissimilar or contrary. Thus the fate of every new idea depends upon the harmony or conflict with the previously existing idea. This mental phenomenon goes on whenever something is presented to our consciousness. The accepting, rejecting or modifying of ideas in our minds is called apperception.


The theory of apperception and education. Herbart tries to convince us that apperception occupies a very important place in education. He clearly shows the place of old knowledge in the process of acquiring the new. Stout agrees with Herbart when he says. “The main principle which psychology lends to the theory of education as its starting point is the need that all communication of new knowledge should be a development of previous knowledge.”


Carlyle says, “The eye sees only what it brings the power to see,” and Browning, “his she taught already that profit by teaching.” According to Herbart everyone has his own world even in the same environment. First of all, we estimate the degree of apperception in the minds of the pupils and then try to adjust the instruction accordingly. Instruction is the means by which the ends of education are attained. Instruction will be most successful if it is manipulated to harmonize with the already existing ideas in the minds of the pupils.


Herbart attributed the failure of education of his time to the lack of a sound psychology. His predecessors wrongly attached too much importance to mental faculties missing the significance of ideas already existing in the mind.


They tried to produce many virtues in the pupils by disciplinary methods without thinking that the pupil does not grasp a thing if it is not related to what he has already learnt. Thus Herbart proved to us that if something is to be taught to the child it must be connected with the previous knowledge possessed by the child, otherwise all our efforts will fall like drops of water on stone.


Absorption and Assimilation. From the above explanation it is clear that the teacher should arrange his material in a systematic order. He must be very methodical in his procedure. He must know the order in which he should present ideas before the children one by one.


While learning anything new the child mind reacts in two ways. First of all it attempts to acquire new ideas and then it tries to seek the relation between his newly acquired ideas and the ideas he already possesses.


Herbart calls the first process as absorption and the next as assimilation. The teacher should see that he is able to establish a harmonious relation between the absorptive and assimilative processes of the child mind otherwise his efforts will bear no fruit.




Formal Steps of Herbart. Herbart divides absorptions into clearness and association, and assimilation into system and method. The above four sub-divisions, are known as the formal steps of Herbart. By ‘clearness’ is meant a clear presentation of ideas to the pupils consciousness unless the ideas are clearly presented the child cannot assimilate them.


The process which unites the new idea with the already existing ideas is known as association which apparently involves both absorption and assimilation. As a matter of fact the Appreciative process begins with association. As orderly arrangement in the mind of what has been associated may be termed as ‘system’. This process is not active.


Herein comes assimilation or reflection. The mind is deeply engrossed with notices which are beyond the particular ideas just received or previously existing. In the method process the mind attempts to form an organic whole as a result of the above three processes. Language may play a very active part here in giving expression to the harmonised wholes formed in the mind.


It is from the above four steps of Herbart that the five formal steps of instruction have been devised. They are ‘preparation’, ‘presentation’, “comparison and abstraction”, ‘generalisation’ and ‘application’. Herbart is not dogmatic about his formal steps. He only prescribes them only as an aid to instruction. He does not regard them as indispensable. He gives full discretion to the teacher in applying his own systematic method.


Herbart’s Psychology of Education

Herbart was the first person who combined Ethics with Psychology and gave rise to a new educational science. With the help of Ethics, he formulated the aims of education and with the aid of Psychology; he laid stress upon the methods of teaching. Herbart condemned the prevalent Faculty Psychology and, developing new psychological ideology, employed it in the educational process.


According to Faculty Psychology mind is made up of various unrelated faculties. Opposing this belief, Herbart had established that mind is made up of three parts namely— (1) Knowing, (2) Feeling, and (3) Willing. These three parts have no independent existence of their own. They exist together and cannot be separated.


Thus, Herbart has emphasised that mental activity is one whole and not a combination of three separate faculties. Herbart has discussed these parts of mind as under:

  • At the time of birth, an infant has only the capacity to adjust itself with the environment. When his mind comes in contact with the external objects, then new ideas are born which enter the field of consciousness first of all. After crossing the limits of consciousness, they enter the area of unconsciousness. There they lie stared up till they are needed. But when a new idea which has a similarity with the pre-stored ideas, is born, the pre-stored ideas rush up to the consciousness and assimilate the new one and go back to the unconsciousness again.

In this way, in our normal behaviour many new ideas come to the consciousness and after being assimilated by the pre- stored ones, go back to the unconsciousness. We think that we have forgotten them, but this is not so. They remain stored up in the unconsciousness and rush to the consciousness as they when any new or similar idea enters our consciousness and after the assimilation of




the new one, the whole mass goes back to the unconsciousness again. This process of assimilation of new ideas with the pre-stored ideas goes on. Herbart has called this process as “Apperceptive Mass”.

Pestalozzi had called this process of assimilation as “From known to unknown”. It may be noted that this mental activity is of great importance in the educational development of a child. Hence, the teacher should present the new ideas or knowledge before a child in such a way that the new one integrates itself with the pre-stored ones and the whole becomes one unit—One Apperceptive mass.

  • Feeling is another attribute of mental activity. It means to discipline and control the previously gained ideas when they enter the conscious field. When the old mass is not able to integrate the new idea, then there is a great mental tension. On the contrary, if the assimilation takes place as desired, then there is a feeling of joy and contentment.


In other words, ideas struggle to enter the field of consciousness and remain there. If they are assimilated, then one feels pleasure and if not then pain.


Hence, the teacher should organize his teaching in such a way that the old and the new ideas integrate and synthesize smoothly. This will motivate children to learn more and more joyfully with interest and consequent attention.

  • Willing or activity is closely related to knowing and feeling in the normal life of a human being. As a matter of fact, activity is the outward expression of inner ideas and feelings.

Thus, the teacher should be very conscious while presenting new ideas before children, because ideas have a tendency of rush to action or behaviour. As are the ideas, so are the actions. This mean that children will respond in action according to the ideas they receive and accept.


Aims of Education

Herbart becomes ethical in his aim of education. He desires that the pupils must be so educated as to possess strong moral character. Herbart regarded his theory of ideas very helpful in this respect. He believed that the teacher can successfully help his pupils to form high ideals according to his theory of ideas.


In the concept ‘morality’ we can sum up all, the ideals of education which Herbart stands for. Ideals are very important to him as he believes that they lead to action which determines characters. Our conscience seeks to satisfy itself about all our action. It regards an action virtuous if it is in complete harmony with its principles.


Herbart calls this conscience “Inner Freedom”. Herbart understands this “inner freedom” as virtue which should mean the harmony between our thought and deed. He wishes that all the efforts of the teacher should be directed to the attainment to this harmony in the pupils.


Constant repetition will help a lot in this respect as it will develop a permanent attitude of preference which must be evidently the chief aim of education. “The term virtue expresses the whole purpose of education.”




A virtuous man will always judge the universe from the point of view of inner freedom. He develops a right attitude towards everything. He can distinguish between right and wrong and his inner freedom bids him to behave properly in all situations. To regard the universe according to the dictates of “inner freedom” is described by Herbart, as the “Aesthetic Presentation of the Universe”.


Thus we see that Herbart does not regard morality as absolute. Here he stands in direct contrast to Kant. He subordinates morality to aesthetic judgment. It is not surprising then that to him an aesthetic representation of the universe is the ideal of education.


Inner freedom produces efficiency, goodwill and sense of equity. According to Herbart one will he said to possess efficiency if the various ideas possessed by his mind are well balanced. If one can distinguish between right and wrong he will have idea of justice. The idea of goodwill will save him from falling into vicious temptations. He applies his sense of equity if the existing relations between different ideas need to be changed. It is this sense of equity which underlies the principle of rewards and punishments in schools.


Many sided Interests. One should cast aside his prejudices and dogmatic attitudes in order to be virtuous. He needs to be very liberal. He should accept virtues wherever they are found. For this it is necessary to widen the scope of education. It should include all the ranges of ideas leading to virtues.


According to Herbart if the pupils have a wealth of ideas, many sided interests will follow. These many-sided interests should not be isolated units but an organic whole leading to a well-defined purpose.


Herbart wants that the material for instruction should be so selected and arranged as to produce harmony with many sidednesses. Herbart believes that many sided interests are the only and sure means to lead to virtues.


Co-relation of Studies. Every child has some particular special ability. He should be given full scope to develop this ability. His other abilities should be organised round this ability. “Every man must have a love for all subjects each must be virtuous in one.”


Herbart demands that the materials for instruction should be so arranged in anointer related form as to enable the child to apperceive it completely. The end of many sidednesses can be attained only by correlation.


There should be no disorganization and want of proportion in the various studies. The subjects should not appear as entirely disconnected, otherwise an unified consciousness will not be developed in the individual.


Interest and Education. Interest is a kind of mental activity. The aim of instruction is to incite this activity. “Interest is this a concomitant of the process of the fulfillment or realisation of an idea or circle of ideas by an extension of itself or through action, when this process is working smoothly, not baulked by unnecessary or insurmountable obstructions and not attaining its end immediately and without effort.”




There is a close relation between interest and information. A man who has information will feel interest and will desire for more. Interest is created when the mind is not able to cope with an idea tending to excite a new presentation in it. Desire comes out of interest. In order to fulfill the desire some actions must be performed.


Thus interest, desire and action make a complete circle. Interest becomes striking when this circle is broken and desire and action fail to appear. Interest disappears if the desire is fulfilled and the desired object is attained. Thus we find that interest is appreciative. We make efforts when we become truly interested. Herbart wants that instruction should aim at securing this type of interest.


Creation of interest is indispensable in attracting the attention of the pupils to a lesson. If the pupils have no interest they will not apperceive any new idea and presentation. If the interest of the pupils is excited in a lesson they may try to enlarge their knowledge acquired by way of apperception in the class.


Many-sided interests create a broad-minded and well-balanced outlook on life. Interests have great effects on will. If the teacher maintains proper connection between various interests of the child the latter’s will be automatically controlled.


To Herbart ‘will’ is not faculty of the mind. It is dependent on the ideas possessed by the mind. In other words, will is a product of experience which is nothing but a result of active interest.


Curriculum According to Herbart

Herbart strongly emphasised the development of varied interests to develop a strong moral character of child. According to him, this will be possible only when various subjects are taught to children. Hence, he emphasised the inclusion of as many subjects in the curriculum as possible. Herbart divided the curriculum into two categories namely—

(1) Historical and (2) Scientific. He put in the first category History, Language and Literature and in the second he put in Physical Sciences, Arithmetic together with industrial and vocational subjects.


Herbart laid his main emphasis on History and literature and assigned a subsidiary position to scientific subjects. It should be remembered that Herbart believed in the unity of mind. He came to the conclusion that all teaching should be done round a central subject. For this, he assigned to History the central position and advocated that all other subjects should be taught around this pivot.


Process of Instruction

The great educationist Herbart prescribed a general method of teaching for all subjects. This general method includes four steps as given below:

  • Clearness means that subject matter of learning should be presented in a clear way.
  • Association means to establish close connection between the old and the new knowledge.
  • It is the logical linking of knowledge in a systematic way.
  • It connotes the use of learnt knowledge in practice.





Herbart’s famous follower Ziller divides the first step of clearness into two stages namely

  • Preparation and (2) Presentation. Another disciple of Herbart named Pyne added another intermediary step between the above two, which he named as “Statement of Aim”. These five steps are known as Herbartian five formal steps. They are given below:
    • Preparation or introduction is the first step of teaching method. Herein some questions are put to test the previous knowledge of children so that they become motivated to learn new knowledge.
    • Statement of aim. This step is a part of the previous one. Here the topic is made known to children and the teacher writes it on the


  • In this step the specific lesson is developed step by step with the active cooperation of the students. In other words, their mental activity is stimulated to achieve all learning by their own efforts and experiences. The teacher tries to search out and develop various points of the lesson by the active co- operation of students so that the new ideas are integrated with the old mass already stored in the mind.
  • Comparison and association. Herbart named this step as association. Here the various incidents, facts and experiments are inter-related and integrated by means of a process of comparison and contrast so that children gain clear understanding and insight of the matter taught to them. Hence, the teacher should try to correlate the teaching of one subject with another, the topic of one subject with the topic of other This will fix the new knowledge solidly in the minds of children.
  • Herbart called this step as system. Here in opportunities are provided to students to think out and understand the new knowledge gained by them in the background of a broad perspective. After that some specific principles are deduced which may be applied in future activities and experiences.
  • Application is the last step of this method. Herein, it is examined whether the knowledge gained can be successfully applied in new situations or not. This can be tested by the teacher by putting some recapitulatory questions or he can provide new circumstances and experiences to children to apply the knowledge gained. This will make the knowledge acquired permanent and testify to the veracity to the principles deduced.


Herbart laid stress upon both, freedom and discipline. He was against harsh and rigid discipline. But he has emphasised that up to the time when a child achieves moral development, he should be kept under control by the teacher even if he has to take recourse to rewards and punishments.

Herbart distinguished between discipline and training. He preferred training to discipline a stressed that more and more opportunities should be provided to children to enjoy their freedom in a purposive and useful manner (Ornstein & Levine, 2008; Sharma, 2002; Shrivastava, 2003; Hilgenheger, 1993).





  1. Describe John Lock’ theory of


  1. Discuss the role of parents in education of


  1. Evaluate John Dewey’ philosophy of


  1. Describe Principles of curriculum


  1. Describe the Impact of John Dewey’ philosophy on modern


  1. Analyse Herbart’s theory of


  1. Discuss the Herbart’s process of



  1. Compare the teaching methods proposed by John Dewey and Herbart. Make a chart and display in the classroom.


  1. Visit a secondary school and observe teaching methods being applied in the light of Herbart’s Process of Instruction.



Aldrich, R (1994).John Locke. PROSPECTS: The Quarterly Review of Education (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. 24, no. 1/2, 1994, p. 61–76.


Hilgenheger, N (1993). Johann Friedrich Herbart, Prospects: the Quarterly Review of Comparative Education (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), vol. XXIII, no. 3/4, 1993, p. 649-664.


Ornstein, C.A., and Levine D.U. (2008). Foundations of Education, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.


Sharma, R.N. (2002).Text Book of Educational Philosophy Publisher-Kanishka Publishers, New Delhi


Shrivastava, K.K (2003). Philosophical Foundations of Education Kanishka Publishers, Distributors, New Delhi

























Written by: Dr. Farkhanda Rashid Reviewed by: Dr. Fazal ur Rahman





In the field of education, there are enormous contributions of Muslim philosophers. It is not necessarily concerned with religious issues. Muslim philosophers emphasized on logic, reality, freedom of will, sources of knowledge and many more. The Quran and Greek philosophy has very much influenced Muslim philosophers. Muslim Philosophers tried to harmonize the philosophical perspectives of Greek philosophy with the tenants of Islam. Muslim Philosophers have generally tried to synthesize science , religion and philosophy and attempted to define their subject matters in such a manner that they are found to be balancing to one another rather than coming in conflict with one another.

Muslim Philosophers tried to answer the enduring questions of philosophy. The nature of reality, the functions, and limits of the human reason, truth, freedom, ethics and in essence, how we should live are fundamental questions that have never left the stage of philosophy. This unit entails in detail the contributions of Muslim philosophers in education.



After reading this unit, you will be able to:

  1. Discuss Imam Al-Ghazali’s views about teaching


  1. Describe Ibn-e-Khaldun’s view about education of young children


  1. Elaborate Ibn-e-Miskawayh’s contributions to the moral development of learner


  1. Explain reasons of Al Farabi’s emphasis on the scientific disciplines


  1. Appreciate Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s educational philosophy for the Muslims


                  IMAM GHAZALI (1058-1111)

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazzali is one of the most important scholars of Islamic thought. He was a philosopher, a legal scholar, a theologian and a mystical thinker. Imam Ghazali was an expert in the field of fiqh al-Syafii’ and Kalam al-Asy’ari. Coming at a time when there were many disputations between philosophers and theologians, between rationalists and traditionalists and the Mystical and the orthodox, he tried to bridge these divisions. His IhyaUlum al-Din, The Revival of Religious Sciences embarks on a massive endeavor to find a golden mean between all these diverging trends. Imam Ghazali was a teacher at University of Nidzamiyah, Baghdad.


Al-Ghazali’s philosophy of education is based upon Islamic perspective on education, in which Al-Ghazali’s predisposition towards understanding and integration of numerous intellectual schools is apparent. He got recognition as mystical, legal and philosophical educational thinker.


For Al-Ghazali, the aim of education is to nurture human beings so that they abide by the teachings of religion and henceforward will be rewarded in the life hereafter. Children learn from society and the surrounding environment. These elements play vital role for




the development of their behaviors and personality. The children are also under the influence of their families, their customs, traditions, language and religious traditions. Therefore, the major responsibility for children’s education rests on the parents. However, this responsibility is subsequently shared by the teachers. Al-Ghazali emphasized the significance of childhood in character building. A good brought up will result in a good character and help them to live a good life; while, a bad brought up will spoil the character of children and it will be difficult to bring them back to the straight path. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the significant characteristics of this period so that children can be dealt in a sound and effective manner.


Al-Ghazali emphasized on early childhood education. He stressed that parents should observe their children’s education since birth. According to Al-Ghazali, children are the responsibilities of their parents. If they brought up of children is in a good manners and in a good environment, they will become good human beings. On the other hand, if children are exposed to bad behaviour and their education is overlooked, they would grow up as bad people and their sins would be borne by their parents and their care takers. Al- Ghazali advised parents to send their children to schools so that they could learn the recitation of Quran, understand Hadith, and listen to the stories and life history of pious people so that children could take them as examples.


Al-Ghazali emphasized to reward children. He explained that when children demonstrate good manners, they should be rewarded and praised so that they would become happy. Moreover, when children accidentally commit mistakes, parents should pretend as if they have not notice the mistake and do not ever embarrass them by telling other people about the mistakes done. However, if children repeat the same mistake for the second time, parents should talk to them discreetly and tell them that they should not do such things.

At elementary stage, children must be trained to be obedient to their parents, teachers, and elders. They must also behave well towards their fellow students. They should be prohibited from boasting to their peers about their clothes, the economic status of their parents the food they eat, and accessories they have. Rather, they should be taught generosity, modesty, and civility. Attention must also be paid on their company as it affects their character. Therefore, they must advise to have intelligent and truthful friends.


Al-Ghazali stressed that education is not limited to train or fill the mind, instead it involves all aspects of learner such as religious, intellectual, physical and moral. True learning affects behaviour of learner. It enables learner to apply practical use of his/her knowledge. Teachers must concentrate on the religious education. children must also be taught everything they need to know about the precepts of religious law, and must learn not eat forbidden food, steal some one others things, act disloyally or do anything which is not appropriate for them. Al Ghazali said that teachers should consider the differences in ability and character among students, and deal with everyone appropriately. The teachers should not force the students beyond their capability, nor try to bring them to a level of knowledge that they cannot absorb.




Al-Ghazali has described following classifications of sciences according to:

  1. Classification according to ‘nature’:
    1. theoretical (religious and theological) and
    2. practical (politics, home economics and ethics),


  1. Classification according to their ‘origin’:
    1. Revealed sciences, taken from the prophets (exegesis, unity of God, customs, rites, morality) and
    2. Rational sciences, produced by human thinking and reason (natural sciences, mathematics, theology, etc.)

For Al-Ghazali the revealed and the rational sciences complement each other.


  1. Classification according to their purpose or aim
    1. Science of transaction (governing the behaviour and actions of human beings—the sciences of customs and rites) and
    2. science of unveiling (essence of things and pertaining to the apprehension of the reality)


Al-Ghazali divides the philosophical sciences into six categories:

  1. logic
  2. Mathematics,
  • Natural sciences,
  1. Politics
  2. Metaphysics, and


Al-Ghazali’s emphasized that education is not only a process whereby the teacher imparts knowledge. Rather, it is an ‘interaction’ affecting and promoting teacher and student equally, the former gains merit for giving instruction and the latter cultivates himself/herself through the acquisition of knowledge.


Al-Ghazali also emphasized the great significance of climate in which teaching takes place, and to the kind of relations that are required in doing so. For Al-Ghazali, the teacher should be an example and a model. The teacher is not limited to the teaching of a particular subject matter; rather, it should incorporate all aspects of the personality and life of the student. The student, in turn, has a duty to consider the teacher as a father, to whom he owes obedience and respect.


Al-Ghazali stresses that learning is only effective when it is put into practice, and is aimed at inculcating the right habits rather than simply memorizing information.Al- Ghazali recommended that the teacher before moving to next subject matter, teacher must ensure that the students have mastered the first subject matter. Teacher should consider the interconnectedness of knowledge and the relations between its various branches.




For religious education, Al-Ghazali recommended an early introduction to the fundamentals of religion through memorization, inculcation, and repetition. In the subsequent stage, understanding, explanation, and conscious practice must be carried out.


At the age of fifty five, Al-Ghazali died. Surely, he is considered to be one of the most significant and profound Islamic thinkers. He had introduced many principles of philosophy and logic into the disciplines of fiqh and kalam. His famous works are al- Munqidh min a-alal ,Ihya’ ‘Ulum ad-Din, and Tahafut al-Falasifa.



List down some responsibilities of teacher and parents for the moral development of children.


Self-Assessment Questions 7.3

Fill in the blanks:

  1. Al-Ghazali’s philosophy of education is based upon…………………………….

perspective on education

  1. Al-Ghazali says that the major responsibility for children’s education rests on the


  • Al-Ghazali emphasized to……………………………………. children
  1. At …………… stage, children must be trained to be……………………. obedient to

their parents

  1. Al Ghazali said that teachers should consider the ………………. in ability and character among students
  2. For Al-Ghazali the ………………………. and the rational sciences complement each other.
  • Education is an ‘………………………. ‘ affecting and promoting teacher and student


  • Al-Ghazali recommended that before moving to next subject matter, teacher must ensure that the students have……………………………………… the first subject
  1. For religious education, Al-Ghazali recommended an early introduction to the fundamentals of religion through…………………………………………………. , inculcation, and repetition
  2. Al-Ghazali had introduced many principles of philosophy and……………. into

the disciplines of fiqh and kalam


                  IBNE-KHALDUN (1332-1406 AD)

Ibne Khaldun was a philosopher of history and the first social scientist. Ibn e Khaldunhas made three most significant contributions to social sciences. Heobtained his basic




education from his father who was a renowned scholar. He was keenly interested in tradition, grammer, poetry, language and law. He also studied Philosophy, theology, logic, and other Islamic subjects. He learnt Quran by heart. Ibn e Khaldun was an expert in fiqh, nahu, hadith, rhetoric, poetry and philosophy.


Ibne Khaldun had described the educational process in the perspective of the development of society. He illustrated his theory of education in the framework of Islamic society and focused his attention on the education from a religious and ethical point of view but at the same time he also highlighted the sociological point of view. The Muqaddima contains a systematic treatment of philosophy of history. Besides this it contains his views on the aspects of state, society and education.


According to Ibne Khuldun, thinking ability is human beings’ special gift of God. The faculty of reflective thinking is the source of knowledge. It distinguishes man from animals. It is of three types:

  1. Discerning intelligence: it enables man to understand the order of things
  2. Experimental intelligence: it enables man to be receptive to opinions and teaches him rules of conduct
  • Speculative intelligence: it gives insight about the general idea of things existing according to species, classes and their primary and secondary


Ibne Khaldun stressed upon UlumNaqliyyai-e The Quran, interpretations of Quran, tradition, jurisprudence and speculative theology which are wanted per se. Ibne Khaldun also emphasized on UlumAqliyyai-e philosophy and physical sciences. Ibne Khaldun warns the scholar that they should study the sciences that are wanted per se in greater detail.


Ibne Khaldun believed that the attainment of knowledge was the natural urge of human beings because they possess the power of reasoning and thinking. He believed that reality should be known by revelation instead of intellectual effort as believed by philosophers. Therefore for Muslims the first condition for knowing the reality is the Quran and the prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). The aim of education for Ibne Khalun is to make Muslims firm believers in God through the study of Quran and religious sciences. Knowledge of God and faith in Islamic laws will make Muslims know the reality which in turn will lead to good action and possession of good character.


Ibne Khaldun had described that children should not be taught difficult matters. Ibne Khaldun had emphasized that children drill method and teaching aids must be used to make children learn. Moreover, concepts must be taught from the easiest to the most difficult in stages. Moreover children must not burden with things beyond their capability. Ibne Khaldun had discussed the concepts of motivation, learning willingness and reinforcement.


For Ibne Khaldun, education is a social enterprise and includes upbringing strategies according to firm laws. Ibne Khaldun integrated the educational programs with the




behavioural ones. Ibne Khaldun advised that children should first be taught calculation. According to Ibne Khaldun instruction must be started with calculation, because it is concerned with simple knowledge and systematic proofs and it produces an enlightened intellect. Moreover, calculation has a sound basis and requires self-discipline, soundness and self-discipline.


Ibne Khaldun dividing sciences into two categories:

  1. Primary sciences: that man realized by instinct
  2. Secondary sciences: acquired through education
  3. Mental sciences: These are also called sciences of philosophy and wisdom.


These consisted of four different sciences or intellectual sciences:

  1. Logic: It protects the mind from error, as it attempts to know from the available known
  2. Physics: It is the study of the elemental substances perceivable by the
  3. Metaphysics: It is the study of spiritual and metaphysical matters.
  4. Measurement: It comprises four different sciences:
    1. Mathematical sciences
    2. Geometry
    3. Arithmetic
    4. Music and


Ibne Khaldun had explained each kind of sciences alongwith its subjects and aims. Ibne Khaldun classified education and children’s upbringing into three different types.

  1. Psychological information: it provides bases for education and learning theories
  2. Historical information: it explains the means of education and bringing up children in different countries
  • Practical instructions: These identified rules that parents and teachers should


Ibne Khaldun presented theory of “specialization and perfection in learning”. It provided bases for Ibne Khaldun’s opinion on education and rearing.


Ibne Khaldun did not limit his realistic observations to individuals only, but he studied the psychological effect of groups and societies. Ibne Khaldun used the word “first and second education” in his book. He referred the first stage of learning as the period before adolescence and second stage to what is learned later on.


Ibne Khaldun had presented several principles of education. Some of these are summarized as follows:

  1. Education should be taken gradually in order to be
  2. Different sciences must be taught at different
  3. A student, who specializes in a specific science efficiently, will be ready to learn another




  1. The process of education should be done permanently and within fixed periods so that children would not forget what they had learned.
  2. Being hard with students would lead to negative results such as weakening the students’ enthusiasm and leading to laziness, encouraging lying and teaching dishonesty and
  3. Travelling in order to seek knowledge, education and to meet with scholars would increase people’s learning because each one would add to his/her own means of research and
  4. Basic sciences such as Shari’a, Tafsir, Hadith, Fiqh, Physics and Theology should be studied more and investigated. On the other hand, the secondary sciences such as Logic, Arabic, and Mathematics should be studied as complementary courses


According to Ibne Khaldun, the best education is the interaction of minds, between people of different professions, different religions, different civilizations, and different social sectors. Ibne Khaldun emphasized that the aim of education was not to have specialists in limited or narrow subjects, but was mainly the desire to provide students with sciences that would help them to live a good life.


Ibne Khaldun has presented philosophy for early childhood education. He emphasized the need for practice, observation and individual differences. According to Ibne Khaldun small children must be taught Quran. He forbade teachers from teaching tafsir, regulations and others except reciting until the children are matured enough.


Ibne Khaldun also presented ways to teach children. He has forbidden teachers or parents from teaching children with cruelty because it could make children lazy, liars, and pretentious in order to hide the truth. Such attitude could become a habit and children would lose sense of humanity.


Ibne Khaldun described that learning time should not be too long because it would make children forget. Teaching within a short time using the right method could generate better learning. In terms of language, he stated that language is the foundation of all knowledge. Language teaching started from writing and reading, and then words are related to meanings.



Discuss with your friends that how will you organize eating time of children?


Self-Assessment Questions 7.4

Fill in the blanks.

  1. Ibne Khaldun illustrated his theory of …………………. in the framework of Islamic society
  2. According to Ibne Khuldun,……………… ability is human beings’ special gift of

God…………………. special gift of God




  • Ibne Khaldun also emphasized on Ulum Aqliyyai-e philosophy and ……………….


  1. For Muslims the first condition for knowing the………………….. is the Quran and

the prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).

  1. Concepts must be taught from the …………. to the most………………. in stages
  2. Ibne Khaldun instruction must be started with …………………., because it is concerned with simple knowledge and systematic proofs and it produces an enlightened
  • Metaphysics is the study of…………………… and metaphysical matters
  • Ibne Khaldun presented theory of “………. and perfection in learning”
  1. Ibne Khaldun used the word “……………….and………………… education” in his


  1. Travelling in order to seek……………………………. knowledge, education and to meet with scholars would increase people’s learning because each one would add to his/her own means of research and



Ahmad Ibn Muhammad ibnYa`qub, surnamed Miskawayh, is also known as Abu ‘Ali al- Khazin. Miskawayh was appealed to Greek philosophy. He studied history, philosophical disciplines and alchemy. He is recognized as eminent theistic thinkers, historian, moralists, and historians of Persia. The most significant part of Miskawayh’s philosophical activity is devoted to ethics. Three important books of Miskawayh on ethics are Tartib al-Sa`adah, Tahdhib al-Akhlaq, and JawidanKhirad.


IbnMiskawayh’s objectives and theory of education were based on Aristotelian theory of education which specified intellectual, moral and physical education aiming to produce good human beings from the social point of view and attaining eternal happiness and self realization. Similar to Plato and Aristotle, IbnMiskawayh believed that education is linked to state craft. Therefore, he visualized an education system which could fit the people to perform the duties entrusted to them by the state. Like Aristotle, he presented the view that physical education must precede the intellectual and spiritual education. To IbnMiskawayh, the goal of life was to combine human will with the Divine Will. True education must therefore, minister to the needs of the body no less than the aspirations of the soul. Thus asceticism was entirely unacceptable to him. IbnMiskawaih emphasized that the need of religious education is therefore apparent because of aiming to combine human will and Divine Will. For IbnMiskawayh aim of religious education was not merely to shield against irreligion but to construct the conscience of the child. In




“Tahdhib al-Akhlaq”, Miskawayh connected moral philosophy with psychology and stated it doctrine of the soul.


In the history of philosophical thought, Miskawayh is one of the influential personalities among the Muslims. He was unique from others due to his concern for ethics. Therefore, he was considered as the first ethical thinker among the Muslims. Miskawayh’s scientific output is not confined to the field of ethics and philosophy, but he also made notable contributions to history, chemistry, literature and other subjects.


Miskawayh ‘s “Tahdhib al-akhlaq” is considered the most famous book. In this book, he explained education of young boys. According to Miskawayh, knowledge precedes action and ‘moral happiness’ is the happiness enabling the human being to live happily, in accordance with the requirements of virtue. Hence, human beings can attain personal happiness through intellectual effort, and endeavoring to acquire the sciences enabling their thought inclusive of all the areas. For Miskawayh, ethics are very closely associated with the objective of education. Ethics as a philosophical study is considered a practical philosophy, which strives to decide what should be; so examining this field of study does not lead to philosophical reflection as a final aim, but rather it is used in practical life. Miskawayh divided philosophy into two parts:

  1. a theoretical part and
  2. a practical part,


According to Miskawayh , each part complete the other. He distinguished between philosophy and religion. He also distinguished between reason and faith.


The famous book “Tahdhib al-akhlaq” (Refinement of character) of Miskawayh is a guide to practical conduct. It is considered a primary contribution to the field of ethics. In his philosophical writings, IbnMiskawayh presents rational rather than scriptural arguments. Often associated by scholars with Neo-Platonist methods, the author makes frequent reference to Aristotle in discussing human nature, requirements for happiness, and the virtuous life .Miskawayh discussed the training of young boys and men. In his writings, the word “tarbiya” or “ta’dib has been for the training of young boys and men. The meaning of training primarily shows that the obligatory of training rests on adults, to impart training to young with desirable , morality , knowledge, customs, and behaviour, and prepare them in a way to make them acceptable human beings of society.


Miskawayh provided rules for the preservation of moral health for the cultivation of character. These rules describe the ways in which different parts of the soul can be brought together into harmony, for the achievement of happiness. As doctors prescribe rules for physical health, role of moral philosopher is to prescribe rules for moral health. Moral health is founded upon a combination of intellectual development and practical action.


IbnMiskawayh wrote on a wide variety of topics, ranging from history to psychology and chemistry, but in philosophy his metaphysics seems to have been generally informed by a




version of Neoplatonism. He avoided the problem of reconciling religion with philosophy.


However, IbnMiskawayh’s work on ethics is of a much higher order, and does show evidence of considerable conceptual complexity. In his Tahdhib al-akhlaq (Cultivation of Morals) he set out to show how we might acquire the right dispositions to perform morally correct actions in an organized and systematic manner. He asserted that the soul distinguishes us from other human beings and from things, from animals, and it uses the body and the parts of the body to attempt to come into contact with more spiritual realms of being. The soul is an independent and immortal substance that controls the body.


He was concerned for the cultivation of moral health in a very Aristotelian way as similar to the cultivation of physical health, requiring measures to preserve our moral equilibrium. We should keep our emotions under control and carry out practices that support us to confine ourselves on particular occasions and also to develop personality traits that will maintain that level of restraint throughout our lives. To eliminate mistakes, one must examine their ultimate causes and strive to for replace these with more helpful alternatives.


According to Miskawayh, humanity is in constant need of adapting what he was brought up to and became used to in childhood, and also what suits him naturally. If he does not do this, he falls into the place of the worthless, and his connection with God is disconnected. This desolation is confirmed if a person continues in four characteristics:

  1. Idleness, Laziness, and wasting life without work and with no human benefit;
  2. ignorance and stupidity, caused by failure to investigate and exercise the soul with the teachings of wise men;
  • Disrespect, which results from neglect of the soul when it pursues desires and is unrestrained and seeks to commit sins and evil deeds
  1. The preoccupation which arises from persistence in unpleasant deeds.


For each one of these kinds of desolation or illnesses there is a treatment, with which the intelligent man can heal himself provided he tries to set himself free. Therefore, manners to train young men and boys can bring about benefits which can train the person.


From another perspective, training (or education) can be considered as realizing specified aims, equally whether this is from the viewpoint of the one who assumes responsibility for it, or of the one subjected to it. According to Miskawayh, changing the character of an adult is difficult, because he is nurtured and grown up with it, however, special conditions and self realization of the extents of his corrupt morals can provide him the purpose for his change. For such person, it is hoped that he will refrain from (evil) morals gradually and have recourse to the exemplary way by repentance and by keeping company with the good and the wise by the pursuit of philosophy. The reason behind his emphasis on the possibility of refining character and purifying souls, and freeing the self from evil habits and the like, stems from his opinion about people, which is that they are either good by nature or good by reason of the law and learning.






Despite this, individuals differ in receptivity to training as regards readiness for it, and their share of virtuous morality and fine dispositions. Therefore, they are not all in one single rank as regards acceptance of virtuous morality; and if they differ, then this difference and disparity between them, which is beyond reckoning, merits the greatest concern with training and habituation of young men to approved actions. The negligence of training can cause every individual to remain in the condition he was in during childhood.


Miskawayh said that good manners are as much useful for boys, are also useful to older people; however these are more useful to the young, because they habituate them to the love of virtues and so they grow up accordingly. Afterwards it will not be hard for them to avoid evils, and later it is easy for them to follow all the prescriptions of wisdom and the regulations of the Law (sharia) and Tradition (sunna). They become accustomed to keep themselves from the temptations of wicked pleasures; they restrain them from indulging in any of those pleasures or thinking too much about them. They make them desire the high rank of philosophy.


Miskawayh said that when the soul of the boy is ready to accept training; there must be concern for the boy, and he must be cared for, and not left to one who cannot do this training well or who does not have fine characteristics and excellent habits. According to Miskawayh, the soul has been divided into three faculties:

  1. Appetitive,
  2. Irascible, and
  • Rational


These faculties appear gradually, as the boys grow, until they reach their perfection and are then called rational.


Miskawayh also described some methods for the training of soul. For Miskawayh, psychological aspect is the most important. Equipped with a personal code of moral conduct, Miskawayh determined seven species of wisdom:

  1. Acuteness of intelligence
  2. Quickness of intellect
  • Clearness of understanding
  1. Facility of acquirement
  2. Precision of discrimination
  3. Retention, and
  • Recollection


Miskawayh described eleven species of courage:

  1. Magnanimity,
  2. Collectedness,
  • Loftiness of purpose,
  1. Firmness, coolness,




  1. Stateliness, boldness,
  2. Endurance,
  • Condescension,
  • Zeal, and
  1. Mercy


Miskawayh also described twelve species of temperance:

  1. Shame,
  2. Affability,
  • Righteousness,
  1. Conciliatoriness,
  2. Continence,
  3. Patience,
  • Contentment,
  • Sedateness,
  1. Piety,
  2. Regularity,
  3. Integrity, and
  • Liberality (which is further divided into six sub-species)


Miskawayh is essentially a historian and moralist. He has mentioned a number of abstract methods for the training of soul. These ways include:

  • Praise the boy for the good things he does which are acceptable to the adults; and also adults who do good deeds should be praised in his All this emphasizes fine actions, whether performed by him or by adults, and by those considered to be an example for him.
  • Encouragement: to rise above the desire for food and drink and fine clothing. Encouragement here is by commending abstinence from these things and contentment with only the small amount
  • Generous characteristics: He should be trained to admire generous characteristics, such as preferring others over himself in matters of food and drink, and he should confine himself to what is moderate and seek
  • Punishment: He should be warned of punishment, and made to fear blame for any evil deed he may If coercion is employed, this must be by degrees.


After all these psychological methods, the educator can have option to physical punishment provided the preceding methods are not successful and it is really required.

Some of the Miskawayh’s opinions confirm his awareness of the importance of the early stages of human development, or growth. Because it provide basis for particular characteristics for individual’s future life. It confirms the significance of the initial years in the boy’s upbringing, and the influence of the environment on his character in particular; and in the light of his personal experience, he makes deductions regarding what went before.





Conduct a small survey in your school and examine how many teachers give importance to moral education.


Self-Assessment Questions 7.3

  1. Similar to………………………. and Aristotle, IbnMiskawayh believed that education

is linked to state craft.

  1. Like Aristotle, IbnMiskawayh presented the view that ……………………….

education must precede the intellectual and spiritual education

  • For IbnMiskawayh aim of religious education was not merely to ……………….

against irreligion but to construct the conscience of the child

  1. According to Miskawayh, knowledge precedes action and ‘……………….

happiness’ is the happiness enabling the human being to live happily, in accordance with the requirements of virtue

  1. Ethics as a philosophical study is considered a………………….. philosophy
  2. In his philosophical writings, IbnMiskawayh presents ………………………….

rather than scriptural arguments.

  • Miskawayh provided rules for the preservation of ………………. health for the cultivation of character
  • the soul distinguishes us from animals, from other human beings and from things, and it uses the body and the parts of the body to attempt to come into contact with more realms of
  1. individuals differ in……………. to training as regards readiness for it
  2. According to Miskawayh, the soul has been divided into ………………….



                  AL FARABI (872-951 AD)

Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi is one of the greatest philosophers of the world. He contributed to mathematics, philosophy, metaphysics and music. In the history of Islamic philosophical thought, Al-Farabi was the true first founder of epistemology which depend on demonstration and ‘universal reason’. Al-Farabi has great contribution in education.


He had established logic within Islamic culture. According to Farabi, the first aim of knowledge was knowledge of God and his attributes, a knowledge which has a deep effect on the moral conduct of human beings. This kind of knowledge helps human beings in finding the way to the ultimate aim of their existence, while indirectly developing the intellect so that it should attain wisdom. According to Al Farabi, this wisdom held to be the highest level of intellectual attainment permitted to human beings




in their lives .Hence, the center of Al Farabi’s philosophy came to be the unity of society and of the state to be achieved by unity of wisdom, thought, and religion. Each of these being the foundations of the community’s government, should be the same as the order and unity found in the universe. Al-Farabihad often compared the order and unity of the city to that of the universe.


According to Al-Farabi, religion and philosophy were simply two expressions of a single truth, the variance between them rests only in the “form” of expression: philosophy explains religion and provides proof of it; it is neither in conflict nor in contradiction with it. In Al-Farabi’s philosophical system, education is one of the most important social phenomena. It is concerned with the human soul and makes sure that the individual is prepared from an early age to become a member of society, to achieve his/her own level of perfection, and thus to reach the goal for which he/she was created.


In Al-Farabi’s view, indeed the whole activity of education can be summed up as the attainment of knowledge, values, and practical skills by the individuals, within a specific period and a specific culture. The goal of education is to lead the individuals to excellence since the human beings were created for this purpose, and the goal of humanity’s existence in this world is to attain happiness, which is the highest perfection—the absolute good.


According to Al-Farabi, the perfect human being is the one who has acquired theoretical virtue—thus completing his/her intellectual knowledge—and has attained practical moral virtues—thus becoming perfect in his/her moral behaviour. Then, crowning these theoretical and moral virtues with effective power, these are attached in the souls of individual members of the community. Therefore, when they undertake the responsibility of political leadership, they become role models for other people. The perfection which an individual expects from education, combines knowledge and virtuous behavior; it is happiness and goodness at same time. Creation of an ideal community is one of the goals of education-‘the one whose cities all work together in order to attain happiness’.


Al-Farabi emphasized that it is also aim of education to produce good leaders. Moreover, education must also aim to create good balance of morals among people. When moral