Plato’s Republic is one of the most influential works on political theory. The book is rich in logical deliberations and thought experiments in its endeavor to identify the ideal form of government for any society. Some of the ideas and theories articulated in the work include ‘theory of forms’, ‘definition of philosopher’, ‘immortality of the soul’, ‘metaphor of the sun’, ‘role of poetry in society’, ‘allegory of the cave’, etc. Of these, the most commented and profound idea is the ‘allegory of the cave’ that is presented in Book VII of the Republic.
The ‘allegory of the cave’ is a richly allusive and multiple layered illustration of the value, nature and consequence of knowledge. Though Plato is the author of the book, his role is one of committing to text the conversation between his mentor Socrates and his brother Glaucon. Socrates equates the darkness intrinsic to a cave to ignorance. To the contrary, the shining light is . . . Read More
The Inferno (Hell) is the first part of The Divine Comedy, followed by the Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Heaven). It is a classic Christian theological text that uses strong poetic imagination and allegorical allusion. Though originally written in Italian between 1308 and 1321 AD, the work is widely translated and its themes are drawn upon by generations of writers since. Written in first person narrative, the comedy is about the imaginative events and experiences of Dante (and his companion poet Virgil) as he traverses through Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso in his afterlife. Dante meets both mythological and real people during his long voyage. He also comes across mythological creatures that pose moral dilemmas and questions to him. By successfully resolving such challenges, Dante (and by extension anyone with faith in Christ) steadily attains spiritual salvation. The rest of this essay will dwell on the monsters, . . . Read More
Although Augustine of Hippo’s early life was disordered and undisciplined, his adult life is marked by maturity and spiritual searching. His steadfast spiritual journey – one identified with penance and dedication – will lead him to a profound understanding of the message of Christ. He attains a refined reverence for the omnipotent will of God. Although St. Augustine lived at an age that was far removed from St. Francis Assisi’s, some of the values cherished and preached by the latter is easily applicable to the former’s life. Reverence is one such Franciscan value that is represented by Augustine’s lifelong spiritual journey. The rest of this essay will highlight this connection by citing relevant passages from the Confessions as well as scholarly commentary given upon it.
One of the early influences on St. Augustine was the Greek theologian Plotinus, whose famous words ‘alone with the Alone’ made an impact on the young aspirant. This peculiar theory . . . Read More
Charles Darwin’s publication of the theory of evolution through natural selection is one of the pivotal moments in the history of science. But the theory was unveiled only in the middle of 19th century, by when great strides have already been made in other fields of science. Yet, when compared to the complexity and cumbersomeness of theories in the fields of astronomy, quantum physics or discrete mathematics, Darwin’s theory is remarkable for its simplicity. Despite this fact the theory has generated a lot of controversy – both among the general public and among intellectuals. Leading the aggression are the religiously orthodox, who see a threat to the tenets of their faith. To overcome their insecurities they adopt one of two approaches. First, they try to reject evolution as valid scientific theory for want of adequate evidence supporting it. When this fails, they co-opt the theory into a religious understanding and project the process of evolution as God’s . . . Read More
Despite Christian doctrine’s claims of all men being created in the image of God, the Church has historically been guilty of racial discrimination. The very notion of slavery goes against Christian theology. Western Christianity has especially failed to adequately interfere with this social malice in the centuries past. In contrast, among cultures of the newer churches around the world there is more communal harmony and acceptance. This is evident in indigenous peoples from less materialistic and less consumerist cultures that practice Christianity. There, we find “traditions of cherishing every creature, however small, and of living in close and respectful relationship with the earth itself. Openness to traditions like this could lead the church into a renewed relationship with the Creator and the creation, and to a deeper respect for life itself.” (McRae-McMahon, 1998) This essay will elaborate how theological . . . Read More
Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively. Teachers, instead of spoon-feeding all concepts and course content, give a fair degree of liberty for students to find their own individualized style of learning. They prompt students to find equilibrium in the interaction between the organism and the environment. There is a focus on student experience and taking social action for solving real problems.
Realism: Synthesis & Response
Realism is a relevant philosophy of schooling even today. The prevalent system of education does not mould students into well-rounded and socially-conscious individuals. The emphasis is too much on grades and individual excellence. Being part of the current education system I can clearly see what Realism offers. Under this system of education student co-operation is given more importance compared to student competition. This is not the case in the current system where . . . Read More
Social Reconstruction: Summary
This system treats education as an instrument for addressing social problems. Education is seen as the means to creating a harmonious social order. It adopts an open ended syllabi intended to meet practical problems with socially conscious solutions. Progressive education is embraced as against conservative models. Some of the leading thinkers include Theodore Brameld, George Counts and Paulo Freire. One of the core beliefs of its pioneers is that systems must be changed to overcome social and individual oppression. The system encourages students to find creative solutions for problems such as violence, hunger, economic inflation, terrorism, etc. There is a strong belief in literacy as a vehicle for social change.
Social Reconstruction: Synthesis & Response
It should be lauded that social reconstruction attempts to create constructive dialogue and . . . Read More
This model of education focuses on value education and student character development. One of the goals is to gear learning toward understanding objective truth. The teacher plays an important role in imparting knowledge. Conceptual methodology that uses logic and rationality is employed as an instructive tool. The education method is so designed to stimulate the student’s intellect. This school of education is based on the assumption that that which is ultimately real is spiritual or ideational.
Idealism: Synthesis & Response
Although Idealism is the preferred system of education in the 19th century, its relevance has continued to decline in the 20th century. This is due to its old-fashioned core goals such as value education and student character development. In other words, it is not very compatible with the labor market orientated structuring of curriculum and goals that . . . Read More
Philosophers such as John Dewey, Charles Peirce and William James are the founding fathers of Pragmatism in education. These influential thinkers rejected Idealistic education model and instead conceived of schools as institutions for practical goals. The curriculum is based on performing activities, history and geography, and scientific problem solving. Progressive politics is also taught to students. Students are encouraged to take a pragmatic approach to problem solving. The curriculum is not rigidly set. In contrast only the broad outline is provided within which a variety of course content could be accommodated. The teachers play the role of a mentor to students. There is no standardized evaluation of learning. Moreover, the process involves experimentation and learning through experience rather through concepts. Pragmatism also rejects Metaphysical Absolutes and Metaphysical Dualisms.
Pragmatism: Synthesis . . . Read More
The confrontation between Antigone and her uncle Creon (the ruler of Thebes) begins with the demise of her two brothers Eteocles and Polyneices. Since Creon was on the side of Eteocles during the combat between the two brothers, he decrees to honor him in death. In sharp contrast he decrees that Polyneices be left rotting in the battle field sans a proper burial. This is the highest form of punishment in ancient Greek and its evocation is a measure of Creon’s hostility toward Polyneices. In Creon’s own view, what legitimizes his decree is his authority as the supreme ruler of Thebes. He performs very little moral deliberation before setting his order to execution.
But Polyneices’ beloved sister Antigone is a balanced, intellectual and humane person (as evidenced from allusions in the play). Her love for her brother impels her to bury him properly. Though this action would invoke the wrath of Creon and jeopardize her life, her humanity and love supersedes all . . . Read More