chapter  4
12 Pages

Realms of meaning and forms of knowledge

The thesis that human knowledge, meaning and understanding consists of a limited number of quite different kinds, has for many diverse reasons fascinated philosophers from the time of Plato down to the present day. If true, the thesis is of major educational importance as Plato showed, and it is therefore not surprising that it has come to the fore once more in the recent revival of work in philosophy of education. In particular, those interested in articulating a philosophically respectable account of general or liberal education have been drawn into re-examining the thesis. Even in this restricted context, however, it has taken a number of different forms and has been defended in a variety of ways. In this chapter I shall critically discuss a widely known version of this thesis, for it seems to me to go straight for the central questions educationists must ask in this area, starts to answer then in much the right way, but unfortunately takes a number of mistaken turnings which make the final account unsatisfactory. Examining this particular approach will, I hope, throw into clearer relief what is needed in a more acceptable account.