Pragmatism and the American Mind: Essays and Reviews in Philosophy and Intellectual History

By Morton White | Go to book overview

EDUCATION

17. Edgar Z. Friedenberg's Philosophy of Education1

Who would have thought thirty years ago, when I took a deadly course in what was called education, that in the year 1965 America would produce a specialist in that subject who could refer knowingly to Gide's actes gratuits and to Der Rosenkavalier, quote Ortega y Gasset favorably, write stunningly about the feelings of high school students, and defend the life of the gentleman? One might just as well have predicted that America would, in the words of the late J. L. Austin, produce a goldfinch that quoted Virginia Woolf. And yet Professor Edgar Z. Friedenberg is just such a rarity. While crying out against the leveling tendencies of the American high school and of American society, he uses all the statistical means and modes at his disposal, and discourses learnedly about autonomy and empiricism; yet during the whole procedure his prose sparkles and his heart aches for the neglected humanist in the eleventh grade. He believes that in our mass society too many high school students have been turned into

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1
This essay first appeared as a review of Edgar Z. Friedenberg Coming of Age in America ( New York, 1965), in The New York Review of Books, Volume IV ( 17 June 1965), pp. 9-11, and is copyright © 1965 by Morton White . It is reprinted with minor changes.

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