Philosophy of Education: Essays and Commentaries

By Hobert W. Burns; Charles J. Brauner | Go to book overview

Let us then, Venerable Brethren, raise our hands and our hearts in supplication to heaven, "to the Shepherd and Guardian of [our] Souls,"69 to the divine King "who gives laws to rulers," that in His almighty power He may cause these splendid fruits of Christian education to be gathered in ever greater abundance "in the whole world," for the lasting benefit of individuals and of nations.

As a pledge of these heavenly favors, with paternal affection We impart to you, Venerable Brethren, to your clergy and your people, the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, the thirty-first day of December, in the year 1929, the eighth of Our pontificate.

PIUS PP. XI.


Existentialism and Education

George F. Kneller

I do not intend this essay to serve as an overall critique of existentialism but as a brief survey of some aspects of it which are relevant to education. Since its emergence as a cause celebre at the end of World War II existentialism has attracted a good deal of critical attention, although unfortunately in the English-speaking world it tends to be regarded still as not really a philosophy. On the other hand, it has received only sporadic analysis from an educator's point of view, and then as a rule in articles that do not appear outside educational journals. Although no existentialist has yet attempted a systematic application of his philosophy to the problems of education, I write in the belief that nevertheless existentialism contains within itself an approach to education which is refreshingly different from those of the established philosophic schools and which represents a powerful counter-attack against the most insidious enemies currently facing our educational system, and indeed our whole society, namely, social conformity and the mechanization of man.


I

It is often objected that we should abandon the term "existentialism" altogether except to refer to the doctrines of Jean-Paul Sartre. Many prominent thinkers labeled "existentialists" have since disowned the title, and with good cause, since here is no philosophy or "ism" in the traditional sense. Attitudes expressed in the writings of Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Jean-Paul Sartre and Gabriel Marcel clearly set them beyond the domains of academic philosophy. To the names I have mentioned may be added those of Blaise Pascal, the novelists Fyodor Dostoevski, Franz Kafka and Albert Camus, the

____________________
*

An original essay written expressly for this volume.

69
Cf. I Peter ii, 25.

-288-

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