Philosophy and the American School: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education

By Van Cleve Morris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Comparative Epistemologies

As it was noted in Chapter Five, knowing has become a "problem" because there are several ways of engaging in it. And these several ways of knowing compete for attention among thoughtful men and attempt to establish themselves as the most dependable or the most fully authenticated procedure to follow if one claims to be really interested in getting at genuinely true knowledge. Since most of us -- especially educators -- are interested in true knowledge, we must pay careful attention to the competition in epistemology and to the relative claims for this or that epistemological procedure. We are under this obligation not only from the standpoint of authenticating our own day-by-day knowledge but, perhaps more important, from the standpoint of authenticating the procedures we follow in the educative function in managing the knowing process of boys and girls. This, after all, is where our epistemology is put to work, where it is tested in the real affairs of life, and where it does or does not "pay off."

As we proceed through these various epistemological theories, therefore, you should attempt in your study to anticipate the discussion in Chapter Seven -- namely, how each theory is to be applied to the educational situation, the kinds of learning each makes possible, and those sectors of the school's curriculum to which each is most relevant. As in the discussion of ontology, we are not concerned here with engaging in polemics or in arguing a case for this or that way of knowing. We are involved, rather, in an exposure to and, it is hoped, an understanding of the various epistemological alternatives open to us in the work of educating the young.

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