There has always been a strong relationship between education and philosophy - especially political philosophy. Renewed concern about the importance and efficacy of political education has revived key questions about the connections between the power to govern, and the power to educate. Although these themes are not always prominent in commentaries, political writings have often been very deeply concerned with both educational theory and practice. This invaluable book will introduce the reader to key concepts and disputes surrounding educational themes in the history of political thought.

The book draws together a fascinating range of educational pioneers and thinkers from the canon of philosophers and philosophical schools, from Plato and Aristotle, down to Edward Carpenter and John Dewey, with attention along the way paid to both individual authors like Thomas Hobbes and Mary Wollstonecraft, as well as to intellectual movements, such as the Scottish Enlightenment and the Utopian Socialists. Each thinker or group is positioned in their historical context, and each chapter addresses the structure of the theory and argument, considering both contemporaneous and current controversies. A number of themes run throughout the volume:

  • an analysis of pedagogy, socialisation, schooling and university education, with particular relation to public and private life, and personal and political power
  • references to the historical and intellectual context
  • an overview of the current reception, understanding and interpretation of the thinker in question
  • the educational legacy of the theories or theorists.

This book will be of interest to students, researchers and scholars of education, as well as students and teachers of political theory, the history of political thought, and social and political philosophy.

chapter |5 pages


Education and political theory

chapter |14 pages

Medieval theories of education

Hugh of St Victor and John of Salisbury

chapter |20 pages

Teaching the Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes on education

chapter |18 pages

Self-cultivation (Bildung) and sociability between mankind and the nation

Fichte and Schleiermacher on higher education

chapter |16 pages

Education and utopia

Robert Owen and Charles Fourier

chapter |15 pages

J. S. Mill on education

chapter |15 pages

Idealism and education

chapter |15 pages

‘Affection in Education'

Edward Carpenter, John Addington Symonds, and the politics of Greek love

chapter |18 pages

John Dewey

Saviour of American education or worse than Hitler?