A Philosophy for Education
DOI link for A Philosophy for Education
A Philosophy for Education book
In his early work, Nietzsche identified three serious failures in education: the impoverished nature of language education, the lack of appreciation for the relationship between education and culture and the preoccupation with material gain as the objective of education in the present system. Throughout his works Nietzsche points to classical antiquity, either the study of it or its actual development of culture. I identify the origin of the type of education that Nietzsche wishes to criticize with Plato for the following reasons. As is well known, Nietzsche sought to ground his philosophy in life, which is to say that he was interested in the process of life, in coming to be, becoming and renewing. He chose this as his ground because no matter what other concerns or agendas we may have, living is the primitive or primordial and necessary condition for everything we will or wish. As a result Nietzsche needed to take his analysis back to before the point at which these other concerns had become dominant interests. Plato may be seen as that point because it is with his interpretation and development of Socrates’ hyper-rationalism that philosophy in the West acquired its subsequent course and concentration. Put another way, before Plato philosophy had been carried out by the phusikoi, or those who were concerned with nature, and the Sophistes, or the wise sages. This latter group of thinkers can be seen as an extension or application of the first. Until the time of Plato the day to day content of human living held a particular position of privilege or interest in their thought. But, as Nietzsche put it, “Something quite new begins with Plato; or it might be said with equal justice that in comparison with that Republic of Geniuses from Thales to Socrates, the philosophers since Plato lack something essential” (PTA: 4). What was lacking was a method for the practical application of philosophy to life. Briefly then, before Plato philosophy was concerned with the process and nature of living as regards change in the world of flux, the development of man’s place in the universe and the nature of being, and after him philosophy, although concerned with the same notions, became a thoroughly academic endeavour concerned more with the foundations of ethics, politics and the ‘good’ than with how these things affected life through application. In a way, Plato represents the separation of philosophy from Life. Since in Nietzsche’s thought content is considered more or less useless without some underlying method for its application, he sought as an example a culture, or philosophical context in which process and method took precedence. This is precisely what I believe can be taken as the meaning of Nietzsche’s carefully named category the “Pre-Platonic” philosophers.