Reason and Rhetoric: The Intellectual Foundations of 20th Century Liberal Educational Policy

Reason and Rhetoric: The Intellectual Foundations of 20th Century Liberal Educational Policy

Reason and Rhetoric: The Intellectual Foundations of 20th Century Liberal Educational Policy

Reason and Rhetoric: The Intellectual Foundations of 20th Century Liberal Educational Policy

Excerpt

Because this is partly a study of liberal and progressive educational philosophy, I will begin by discussing the method of examination. Philosophers have sometimes claimed that their discipline is the study of pure thought. By this they mean that they are concerned not with the motives that spirit an argument, nor with the consequences to which thinking in a particular way may lead, but with the structure of thinking, with the logic of the arguments, and the consistency and rigor with which a string of propositions are held together. My general inclination is to be skeptical about this claim and to suggest that, at least when it comes to political philosophy, an area under which educational thought naturally falls, motives and consequences are difficult to separate from the structure of thought itself. Among the largest decisions a political philosopher makes is the argument that he chooses to accept as a legitimate object of criticism and what he chooses to accept as unalterable aspects of human and institutional relationships. What is offered as pure thought invariably lends support to one institutional position and weakens . . .

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