EDUCATION AS PRAXIS OR: THE EDUCATION OF THE PERSON
In the last chapter, we examined two varieties of a modern science of education. And though the discussion of each of these positions must remain fragmentary in the context of our thoughts, one thing has been confirmed which was already suggested by the names we have given each of these perspectives: to the extent to which the position criticizes one side, it lacks a critical attitude toward the other. Thus, the nature-optimistic, society-critical variety sees a very dangerous threat to mankind in socialization and, therefore, strives to protect the individual from being rashly delivered over to the society or civilization. It resolves itself to reject the thought that the education of man could be the work or product of society. At the same time, however, it seems possessed with an almost blind trust in the nature of man. It believes that this nature is good and, therefore, that the directions and means of human education must be established solely by this inner nature. On the other hand, the nature-pessimistic, society-optimistic variety thoroughly mistrusts human nature. Because its fundamental conviction is that the education of man could never be the work or product of nature, it frantically avoids any danger of individualism. The individual is viewed as little more than raw material, which, through socialization, must be refined as efficiently as possible and processed into a socially useful man. At the same time, however, it frequently reveals itself in a naive devotion to society. It bestows upon the society the authority to establish the specifications and perspectives of education, and in the widest possible manner, it equates the education of man with his socialization.
As our thoughts have shown us, a view of education as poiesisthis, of course, was the conclusion toward which our reflections were ledis almost inescapably tossed to and fro between the Scylla of naturalism on one side and the Charybdis of socialism1 on the other side. For the first, education is the product of a normative development found in the nature of man. For the second, man, as a presocial, natural, and instinctive being, is transformed into a useful member of the society by adopting the norms and rules of society. If it seems obvious that by sailing under the flag of poiesis, the pedagogical ship either rams against the rocks of Scylla or is threatened to be dashed to pieces on the boulders of Charybdis, then, perhaps another sail must be hoisted by which a safe voyage through the straits is made possible. This sailto stay true to the imageis the sail of praxis, and in this concluding chapter, we will consider the question of whether understanding education as praxis, of viewing man as a person, of seeing the community life of persons and of the teacher/student relationship as a type of dialogue between persons, is not much more suitable for man and humankind than any scientific view of education whether it belongs to the one variety or to the other.
However, before we turn to this question, from the outset, we should be aware of two things. First, with this inquiry, we are clearly moving against the trend toward a science of education. For we are not pursuing the scientification and technologization of man and society through the great intellectual path from Aristotle and Bacon to Dewey, but precisely the opposite, which will lead us back over the path from Dewey and Bacon through Vico to Isocrates. Of course, it is obvious that in so doing, we are not at all interested in how modern or to what degree our thoughts conform to predominant paradigms; our only guiding criterion is how appropriate this education and this pedagogy are for the human person. We will leave the sociological considerations and the historical stipulations for someone else. Second, our inquiry means that in our following thoughts we will finally move beyond the crude dichotomy, from which we first began and at which Kant had scoffed,2 which contrasts theory and practice. Therefore, we will reach a point where practice ceases to be a mere echo of theory and where it earns the right to speak for itself and even to precede theory.3
In order to distinguish between the education of man as the product of nature, the product of society or as the work of the person himself, it seems reasonable to introduce our concluding thoughts with a reference to Heinrich Pestalozzi. He is the author whose educational view of man exemplifies this inner tripolarity in the present terminology.
Indeed, Pestalozzis view of man is appropriate for our thoughts, which have examined man as the product of nature and which have branched out in the other direction to consider man as the product of society, in order to unite once again and view man as the work of himself. But this unionand here Pestalozzi appears as a guidemust not be so understood as though the third view were the only right one or as the one which eliminates the other two as wrong. It is not an issue of correct or incorrect; from this view, dichotomous thinking is entirely out of place.
As the product of nature, man is a product of necessity, as such:
As the product of society I am a drop which falls from the summit of the alps into a brook. I am a trivial thing drifting and driven by the conditions:
While in the former case I was driven by my nature, in the latter case I am swept along by the currents of society; and Pestalozzi raises the question, whether it is not true that I sacrifice and must in this abridged circumstance sacrifice myself, my humanity, soon my apron [Fuerfell],5 then my crown.6
As the work of myself, I attain a place, an independent place; for as such, I engrave myself in myself; an unchangeable workno waves wash me from my shore and no time erases the signs of my work which, as a moral being, I complete in myself. I am elevated to the work of myself, when I recognize through the power of my conscience the wrongfulness of my animal nature and of my social habituation, when I see that there can be no animal balance between my strength and my desires and that self-gratification and my best good essentially cannot exist in harmony within the social man.7 It is only through my morality that I can liberate myself from the shaky uncertainty and from the shrill disharmony of the natural as well as social circumstances in which I find myself; however, for the individual this morality is inwardly bound with his animal nature and his social conditions, and its essence rests entirely on the freedom of my will. It alone enables me to become one with myself, to remain myself, and to resolve the contradictions which seem to lie in my being.8
Lifting myself to become a moral person does not mean a leap to a higher platform on which there is solid permanence and from which I can arrogantly, proudly, and smugly peer down as though from a pedestal. The contradictions within both my natural nature as well as within my social nature cannot be extinguished; for even in moral situations I remain a natural individual and a social role-player. When Pestalozzi discusses being morally uplifted, he is fully aware that this edification cannot function as a permanent state; any moment could be followed by a newer decline to my animal nature or to my egoistic selfishness. Even, I, as the work of myself, am no building established once and for all, which now will unshakably withstand all of the attacks of my compulsive desires and all of the impulses of my greedy self-interests. Rather, I can only see myself as a master builder unceasingly at work, who, continuously and ever anew, must erect the supporting bulwark against these forces.
The person can be designated as this continuous task or work which can be achieved by man and which can be clearly distinguished from the natural individual as well as from the social role-player. The fundamental difference then, lies between individual and role-player on one side, and person on the other; in both of the first cases, as a human, I am determineddriven by nature or swept along with the social conditions; in the latter case, however, I decide for myself. Nature has made me into the individual which I am; society has made me into a particular role-player. As a person, however, I form and actualize myself. There, I am the work of necessity or the product of conditions; here, I am the result of my freedom, my choices, and my decisions. There, my history is written by nature or dictated by society; here, in the truest sense of the word, I am the author of my own history. The dimensions of my life as an individual and as a role-player happen to meI have not produced my own nature as an individual, nor have I, by myself, written the role society has given me to play. By contrast, however, as a person, I accept a mission and I am he who will fulfill it or fall short. If we wanted a metaphor with regard to the human person, similar to that of the role which was borrowed from the theater, we might consider the metaphor of the world as theater (theatrum mundi), as we are acquainted with it from the ancient tragedy up to contemporary theater. Here we see a director who produces a playthe great theater of the worldassigns the roles, and at the end determines how well the actor interpreted and performed his role.9
It becomes clear at this point that by understanding man in such a manner, as a person, we are shifting to a different concept of man where there is no room for either technological thinking about education or for an educational science which is based on poiesis. The person cannot be manufactured; he or she cannot be produced according to the specifications of an operational theory and its poietic applications. In the face of the person, the educational model which seeks to apply an (operational) theory fails. The reason for this is very simple, and Emmanuel Mounier has aptly formulated it:
An educational science, which is conducted by the paradigm of scientific objectivity, must necessarily minimize or completely ignore the problem of the person. For if the person is not a thing, then to the very extent to which it cannot be objectified, it cannot possibly be the object of science. An empirical science which restricts itself only to testable propositions, must exclude from its parameters that which we mean by the person, for the person in this sense is neither operationalizable nor can it in the strict sense be empirically verified or falsified. In such a context, the concept of person is considered to be a meaningless notion, which may be satisfactory for the more modest expectations of educational philosophers or practitioners, but which could never suffice for the standards of an educational science. This educational science claims to be concerned with the purer and more sterile objects.11 But whether this process brings real progress toward a true science of education or whether it merely so reduces and amputates the concept of manof the educators as well as those to be educatedto fit it on the template of educational science, is a question which will be well disputed.12
Of course, educational science cannot deny the reality of the human personeven if it conceptually excludes it. It must confront this reality whenever people act differently than this empirically assured science predicts or differently than what statistical probability would expect, whenever teacher and student do something else in school than what is professed by scientific theory.13 Empirical educational science conceals the dilemma which is unearthed in the process when it uses the terms nuisance variables or subjective factors. Anyone who critically observes today knows that the concept of experimental error muddies rather than clarifies; it recognizes the fallibility of the research while it denies the existence of unmeasurable factors. The so-called experimental error or subjective factors represent better misconcepts rather than concepts. For education is always an interaction between subjects (it is not what happens to an object which is at the technological disposal of a subject). We, therefore, cannot afterwards objectify these subjects into factors without completely eliminating that which establishes the actual substance of education: the self-realization of the person.14
Anyone who educates, in an encounter with the child, in the educational care of an adolescent, or in consultative devotion to an adult, and who does this unspoiled by theoretical constructions of social science and uninhibited by technological schemata, can experience education as nothing other than a dialogical process between persons. If we begin with this conviction and understand man as person, then indeed, we need a concept which is not drawn from the modern-scientific world-view, but which is etymologically derived from antiquity and which found the fulfillment of its meaning in Christianity.
In his examination of Christian thought, as historically profound as it is critical, Giuseppe Flores dArcais contrasted the political universalism of antiquity with the personal universalism of Christianity. In it, he pointed out the change of perspective which was necessary in this transition. In order to see man no longer in the view of the society, but rather in the view of mankind, it was necessary to consider man no longer as a means, but as a purpose. It was necessary to become free from both a naturalistic view as well as to go beyond a mere understanding of man as a citizen and to view man as that which he is, which he can be, and which he should be. But reversing the priorities between the citizen and the man was not the only task; a second was no less important: the reassessment of the relationship between extensiveness and intensity. While ancient universalism saw its aim in an ever more extensive expansion, the foremost aim of the personal universalism of Christianity was intensity, for it extends itself to all of mankind, to the degree to which it penetrates and renews the inner heart of man.15
The word person, therefore, first received its deeper sense in Christianity, and it was the Christians who first epitomized the dignity of man. In addition to this, the conviction of the great significance and importance of the individual person, which was held by Christianity from its outset, has made a decisive contribution. This high regard for the individual has its roots in the Old Testament doctrine that man is created in the image of God and in the deep inviolability of human life which follows therefrom. However, it also grows out of the words of the New Testament and is nurtured by those handed-down examples which Jesus used to testify of the love which God extends to each person and by which he watches over each of them. The parable of the good shepherd, for example, is characteristic of this concern. He cares for each of his sheep and rejoices over the lamb which was lost and is found once again. Heinrich Pestalozzi later incorporated this parable, because for him it demonstrated the authentic teacher/student relationship. In addition, Pestalozzi also contrasted this biblical picture of the good shepherd who cares for his sheep with the picture of a farmer who uses his oxen. For our purpose, it is most significant that Pestalozzi recognizes that both the farmer as well as the shepherd have a knowledge of their animals: the one possesses a knowledge of how to subject the oxen to his purposes; the other knows his sheep to the extent to which he subordinates himself to the purposes of his animals. It goes without saying that for him that educational theory should only be of the second type.16
In Christianity, the significance of the individual person is strengthened even greater, because in it, the platonic doctrine of the immortality of the soul is extended to the immortality of the individual; this is because Christianity binds the immortal spirit so closely to the uniqueness of mortal life. Finally, the conception of time which was developed in the emergent Christian philosophy and Christian view of history17 led to an even higher assessment of individual life. Because the eternal destiny of man is decided in the short span of earthly life between birth and death, this time of probation and decision, which is so precisely allocated, is given an entirely unique significancea thought which Johann Amos Comenius later developed with particular richness: no single human may be excluded from the perfecting care extended to all, for all are human. All face a life in the future world, and the path thereto is revealed by God to all.18
In passing, we can point out that the concept of person in (early) Christian theology becomes very important for the discussion of the problem of the trinity. For our purposes, this theological question does not play an essential role, but we should not overlook that person in the theology of the trinity is given a relational meaning, i.e., person can only be spoken of in its relationship to another person, a personal I to a personal thou. In the theological view:
It would be too difficult here to enter into the wide field of pedagogical discussion that this idea opens. However, it is worth asking the question of whether the teacher/student relationship doesnt have its origin precisely in this type of relationship, for doesnt the educator become the educator only through the pupil and is it not the child which creates and produces the mother who conceives and bears the child? It is also unnecessary at this point to stress that it is this notion, the I-thou relationship, which runs throughout the thought of Martin Buber; a notion, of course, which Buber did not extract from the Christian theology of the trinity, but from the older religious tradition of Chassidism. The age-old Judeo-Christian experience lies behind this, that I become myself only when I am called and spoken to by another thou and that I become a personal I when I converse and respond to that thou.
At any rate, it seems noteworthy that the category of person isand not only grammaticallythreefold. We distinguish between a first, second, and third person. And it is also possible that this triple nature expresses the great significance of the language which befits the personhood of man. In any case, we can speak about an I, a you, and a he; correspondingly, the lyric, drama, and epic can also be distinguished as three literary forms.
At this point, we wont expand on the thoughts of Martin Buber, but instead will draw from a selection of Ciceros work De offici, which Ralf Dahrendorf adopted20 when he introduced American role theory into the German sociological discussion. We use this text because, from it, we can further distinguish a particular aspect of the concept of person. In the fourth part of the first book of that work, Cicero, under the concept of persona refers to four masks, which man simultaneously wears and which make up his tangible being. The first of these masks is the generic characteristics which every human shares with all othersparticularly the capacity to reason, a distinction which separates man from the animals. The second refers to the specific character type, that is, whether the individual is more serious, funny, open, shy, robust, frail, quick, or dim. The third mask is formed by the existing circumstances and is set up by the milieu in which we live. Finally, the fourth depends upon the decisions and choices which we make, for example, with regard to a career.
It is, then, interesting to ask to which of these masks Cicero attaches the greater significance. His answer is quite clear: while kingdoms, nobility, power, riches, and their opposites are determined by circumstances and for the most part depend upon chance, it is up to our will and our decision as to which mask we will wear. It is also most interesting that Cicero appeals to the theater to make clear how important the second mask is, but how decisive in the full sense of the word the fourth of the four masks becomes. Just as a wise actor will accept in his repertoire only those roles which are suitable for him, so our constitution and predispositions, our peculiar capacities and our predominant talents, indicate the path for the entire practice of our lives. It would be most unwise, if in our choices and decisions we simply overlooked these existing capabilities; however, it would also be foolish if we allowed ourselves to be determined by our constitutions and by our predispositions. No highly acclaimed actor would accept a role exclusively because he feels the drive to master it on the stage. At most, our second mask can point out the direction in which we can go; however, which of these, we will then finally choose, depends on our own decision, or said differently: predispositions represent only the material with which we can operate and work; what we make with them is up to us. For Cicero, wearing the fourth mask is sharply focused on a very particular point: it requires us to remain true to ourselves in all of our choices and decisions, to preserve our identity and to lead our entire lives with consistency. Though it does not emerge from Cicero, a concept which firmly captures these considerations,21 focusing them together, can be found in the notion of mission.
A personal mission does not refer to something established, something determined once and for all. It discloses itself step by step; as we work with the material of our capacities, as we focus our decisions and choices in a particular direction, as we remain true to ourselves. It reveals our identity as persons throughout all of the changes of circumstances and time. Emmanuel Mounier utilized this concept of mission as the central accomplishment of the person:
We can turn again to the metaphor of the world-theater in order to understand the origin of this mission; but, of course, only with the presupposition that we are ready and able to break out of the bars in which modern scientific thought and in which a thoroughly anthropocentric world-view has imprisoned us. A second presupposition might also be required: that we are ready and able to deviate from some of our rutted paths of past thinking. This will make it impossible for us objectively to transfer scientific theories and models of interpretation to daily life experience in an impartial or unbiased manner. For when we speak of a phenomenon like that of mission, it makes no sense at all to begin from a particular definition and to develop its meaning step by step. To understand such a phenomenon, we must appeal to individual-experience, indeed, not an appeal to an experience which has been artificially elevated upon scientific stilts, but an appeal to authentic, unblinded, personal experience.23
Martin Bubers position seems to be close to the metaphor of the World Theater when he wrote:
Buber does not deduce these thoughts from some theology or philosophy, let alone from a social scientific theory; instead, he refers to the experience of the human person, in principle, an experience in which anyone who is a human person can participate.
The idea of mission brings a dynamic element into our understanding of person. What we mean by person is not identical with that which we are as individuals. Nor is person the mere fact of our self-awareness; it is not the I think, which accompanies each of my thoughts, for I am not because I think, but I think because I am. Person is certainly not only the I which appears at a particular point in time. As we have already seen, person is stretched throughout an individuals entire life. If we speak of man as person, then we are referring to that dynamic tension which exists between the I who we are, and the realization of that mission which we should be:
In his dramatic works and in his philosophical writings, it was especially Gabriel Marcel who clarified the dynamics of the human person and who showed the responsibility to make commitments which result from these dynamics.26
We could also think of Henrik Ibsens Peer Gynt in which the main character is restlessly driven around the whole world. What drives him? The search for himself, the realization of his person. And where does he finally reach his goal? In the arms of his betrothed (and now aged) Solveig, thus in that thou, whose call, in his youth, he had not heeded. Peer Gynt finished this long journey even though he was confronted several times along the way by the great Boyg (i.e., the clumpy mass of an inert troll) who wanted to paralyze his mission with the demand: Be yourself.
This obstacle raised by the Boyg in Peer Gynt can help us clarify the difference between man as a natural individual, man as a social role-player, and man as a person. The imperative which characterizes the person is: Decide for yourself. We can be diverted from this calling to become a person in two distinct ways. One path leads to the individual and on its guidepost is written the crippling counsel: Be yourself (the Troll King in Peer Gynt added, yourself be enough). The other path leads to the role-player, and on its guidepost is written the demand: Be what you are expected to be. The opposite path, that leads toward the person, is directed away from both the role-player, as well as from the individual. The imperative, which brings the role-player to the path toward the person states: Free yourself from your social conditioning; make yourself free from, them! The imperative, which moves the individual in the direction toward the person states: Free yourself from yourself; make yourself free from your drives, inclinations, needs, lusts, from your ego! The sign-post which designates this direction states: Become, who you are. We can now reformulate the personal imperative, decide for yourself, in other terms: Recognize and fulfill your mission. Become, who you should be.27
While we cannot even roughly cover the fullness of being a person, two other aspects must yet be pointed out. We have already seen that the nature of the person is unique, unrepeatable, and irreplaceableeach person has his own mission, each fulfills it in a unique manner. A new light is shed if we once again examine the person in contrast to the individual and to the role-player. Gabriel Marcel distinguished between two forms of being human, that of having and that of being. This distinction places that which befits the individual or the role-player in opposition to that which befits the person. Having always pertains to the object relationship between a who and a what, which can be distinguished into a subject and an object. That which I have is in my possession and I can dispose of it without it decisively affecting my being:
Having as such is essentially something that affects the who.29
In this connection, Marcel refers to the dialectic of Master and slave described in Hegels The Phenomenology of Spirit; and in a very similar manner, he develops the thought that I allow myself to be captured and to become the slave of things and of the people I view (and treat) as things, to the same degree to which I intend to have and to dispose of them. The having way of life which necessarily drives me to an ever-greater desire to have and to control, makes me only seemingly free; in reality it imprisons, so that it may at any moment turn our lives into a kind of incomprehensible and intolerable slavery.30 For Marcel, the typical illustration of having can be seen in the ideologists, who submit themselves so completely to an issue that they deaden a part of themselves.
Erich Fromm has popularized Marcels categories and examines their consequences for a new social order. He summarized that the difference between being and having corresponds to the distinction between the spirit of a society which places persons at its center and the spirit of a society which revolves around things.31 Transferred to learning and education, learning constantly asks what for; that is, in the having mode, learning asks how it can be profitably applied. In the person mode, education is sought for itselfone which enriches my person, without caring about anything else. In his remarks, Fromm refers back to Meister Eckharts famous sermon about poverty. From this, he shows how much egotism, selfishness, rivalry, jealousy, and resentment emerge out of having; and, on the other hand, how being leads to activity, renewal, giving, and creative productivity; how having impoverishes me as a person, but how being, by contrast, enriches. The mode of being is based on the notion of personal selflessness.
Mounier, a much more radical thinker, even more sharply formulated these thoughts:
Thus while the individual is fragmented and greedy, the person is composed and free to choose; the person and the individual are at opposite poles. Perhaps the sharpest critique of both capitalistic individualism as well as of socialistic collectivism can be found in Mouniers Personalist Manifesto. Anticipating Fromm, this thesis confronts modern society with a mirror:
And at this point, an education or school of having, i.e., one oriented toward the individual or toward the role-player must be severely criticized. From a personalistic perspective, the essence of education certainly cannot be primarily concerned with man as a citizen, as an employee, as a role-player, or as a member of society; nor on the other hand, can its aim be the sublimated egoism or the narcissistic ego fulfillment of the natural individual. Its first and foremost task must be to awaken persons who are capable and willing to live and to commit themselves as persons.34 In the process, we use a formulation which clearly reminds us of Friedrich Froebel, for to him, the task also consists in making man aware of his very own mission, thus to awaken him to it and to encourage him, that once recognized, he will fulfill this mission in freedom and commitment.35
It is, in particular, the sense of obligation and commitment which contrasts the being mode of the human person from the having mode of the individual or role-player. Gabriel Marcel can help us better understand what this type of obligation means where he applies it in a completely personalistic way to the notion of fidelity, a notion which he places at the center of his entire ethics. In A Metaphysical Diary, he simply asks, How is it possible to give someone else a promise? If I give someone a promise (if it is a real promise and not merely a capricious whim), it cannot be a mere wish which emerges from the mood of the moment; this is even more important if I swear unconditional fidelity to a person. The act of binding oneself, i.e., of recognizing ones own commitment, must be completely separated from the fact of feeling one way or another. The individual can enter into a relationship out of lust or whim, out of the mood of the moment; the persons commitment is binding, and it represents a test of personal identity. We cannot provisionally or hypothetically answer the obligations and demands which affect us as a person (as opposed to a replaceable individual or role-player): we cannot love hypothetically nor can we provisionally engender children. Is it possible hypothetically or provisionally to be an educator, can one educateor teach without personal involvement and commitment?
The obligation of fidelity to another person is nothing other than a right which is issued to a person and to which the other person replies with an unconditional commitment. We cannot escape this commitment without completely repudiating it. Therefore, there is no such thing as a personal commitment or obligation which is fully non-binding to the person. Every commitment is a reply. A one-sided commitment would not only be impudent, it could be attributed to arrogance.36 Looking at it from another perspective, obligation and commitment show that the person is not only unique, but is also irreplaceable and non-interchangeable.
Every individual and every role-player is interchangeable and replaceabletherefore some speak of human material, human capital, or human resources. Teachers often speak openly of their student material or this years talent. In the United States, teachers sometimes speak of their new crop, but their focus tends to be more toward outcomes and so this spirit is more often expressed as the products of their schools or classes. To some, it seems quite foolish or dumb if we do not replace an individual when we find another who possesses more of the attributes we desire, or, likewise, if we do not substitute a role-player who could do a better job of playing the desired role. Only the human person is irreplaceable and as a person, man is, in the truest sense of the word, invaluable.37 It is not without deep-rooted grounds that we commonly speak of the authentic and long lasting friendship between persons as a priceless treasure.
It is unnecessary to spend much time showing that the pedagogy which grows out of this concept of the person has little to do with the two types of education previously described: education as natural development or education as socialization. It is just as unnecessary to show that an education of the person eludes any attempt to be processed according to some technological model. The person is neither a thing nor a problem which can be solved by scientific methods. It is a mysterywhich of course does not mean to mystify itand this mystery discloses and realizes itself in the practical living of life. Against the superficial world of rationalisms, the person is a protest of mystery.38
As a person, man is not the particular instance of a universal law which can be routinely classified by the rational tools of scientific thought into logical schemata, tightly knotted conceptual nets, or into a system of categories. The person is unique, we do not encounter it in the language of scientific norms, it is written for us in the secret code of its unique peculiarity. It is not an unambiguous thing; it is a complicated phenomenon, pervaded by contrasts and permeated with tension. In the process, however, the problem arises of whether the human person is knowable at all. If the person cannot be known scientifically or rationally and therefore cannot be grasped by an educational science or diagnosis, must we not then necessarily deteriorate into the hopeless chaos of an entirely unscientific irrationalism? Wouldnt pedagogy conclusively lose any claim to be a science?
This could be a problem only if we are willing to over-simplify reality by contrasting scientific rationality with unscientific irrationalism or if we are willing to pit methodologically derived certainty against mere prescientific opinion. We have stated that the person cannot be grasped with scientific rationality because this object which is no thing-object, cannot be instrumentalized. But this is not to suggest that it is impossible to know the person or that we must inappropriately mystify the phenomenon of the person. But it does mean that another process of knowledge must be sought which appropriately corresponds to the person.
Romano Guardini has undertaken such an attempt in his major work Der Gegensatz, a book which unfortunately has never found the attention which its substance deserves.39 Guardini begins with the problem that scientific knowledge is always conceptual knowledge and that, at least since Descartes, mathematics has served as the archetype for this type of knowledge. Such conceptual knowledge refers to the pure-universal, the abstract, the technical, and, for this type of thinking, the particular is comprehended only as the single instance of this universal. But as has already been shown, the living-concrete is never an instance in this sense, and whenever it is conceived as such, it loses precisely its living concreteness and it becomes abstract. There is also, however, a non-conceptual way of knowing, which does not comprehend through concept, judgment, and conclusion, but through sight and sensitivity. The view which is attained in this manner is not understood through reasons, but through its inner authenticity and clarity.
A purely abstract concept cannot be an appropriate knowledge for the living-concrete of educationthe conceptual concept will not fit its object. But, on the other hand, education cannot be understood only as pure feeling eitherthe intuitive intuition would be the other warped extreme. Guardini strives, in this work, to allow the sight-understanding its leeway with regard to the living-concrete, but to stipulate its path through clear, scientifically refined concepts; in general, he finds that the reality of contrasts forms the unifying element.
While contradictions rule out each other, the living-concrete is made up of complementary contrasts and therefore can only be grasped by thinking which begins from these contrasts. While, for example, on a purely logical and conceptual plane, the concepts lightness and darkness exclude each otherat any particular time a thing can either be light or darkthe complementary contrasts of Akt (active doing and becoming) and Bau (constant form and continuity) are basic to the living-concretea concrete living form is simultaneously Akt and Bau (both changing and constant).
While here we could not fully explain the network of contrasts which Guardini shows to dominate all of the living-concretei.e., everything in the living-concrete is both Akt and Bau, fullness and form, particular detail and entirety, producing and disposing, origination and regulation, immanence and transcendence, similarity and peculiarity, connection and subdivision. However, we can include his summary:
To say it in other words and at the same time to sharpen it: light and dark, full and empty are contradictions which rule out its opposite, this also applies even more so to yes and no. Contrasts, on the other hand, out of which the living-concrete is built, are inclusive and constitutive of one another. To deny them or to want to eliminate them for the sake of an unbefitting scientificness would mean to mistake the living- concrete:
Binary thinking and scientific analysis, which muddle along according to a binary logic, do not do justice to the living-concrete which must be viewed analogically. It is very seldom, if ever, that the human realm deals with a digital yes or no, zero or one, open or closed. Instead, it presents material to be debated, which has more to do with an analogical more or less, more reasonable or less reasonable, more preferred or less preferred, etc. In other words: it pertains to deliberation.
Because of Guardinis insight into the nature of the laws in the living-concrete, the limits of any scientific view of man and particularly the limits of a science of education (to what else does education pertain besides the living and concrete human?) become more clear. From this insight, we can re-ask the question which the natural scientist, John Ziman, raised some time ago: As educational theorists, can we obtain more information about the object of our science from an analytic, empirical science which dissects the human than, for example, from literature or from the theater? Ziman believes that those studying sex education would learn more about the psychology of the relationships between the genders if they read literary works like Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary than if they hacked through numerous empirical-scientifically produced analyses or theoretical models of love. What love is, science is incapable of comprehending. Raising another related example, Ziman asks whether the conceptual distinctions between neurosis, hysteria, and psychosis are not just as vague and questionable as the methods for handling these illnesses.42
A pragmatist, of course, could object: perhaps these methods may be this questionable, but they are successful and after all, thats what counts in the end. In response, we would then have to reply that this success cannot be concluded so easily, for it too is established in only the most vague and questionable manner. If we believe the comparative studies from North America about the success rates of various therapies and therapeutic methods, then for all therapies, it remains about the same at approximately 60 percent.43 This means that not only does it generally approach the point of coincidencea fifty-fifty chancebut also that factors completely other than the therapeutic methods determine the success of the therapiespossibly, for example, the personal characteristics of the therapist.
Boccaccio has given us the story of a highly gifted student who completed his studies with brilliant success and then found himself in a highly perplexing situation. He simultaneously fell in love with two women; both were equally young and beautiful and both were equally desirable. For the first time in his life, the young man became aware that he had to make an existential decision and he attacked this decision just as he had solved problems as a young scholar: he consulted the sciences which he had so painstakingly studied and for which he had sacrificed the best years of his youth. But alas, no matter how carefully he inquired of them, one after the other failed in the face of concrete lifelogic as well as geometry, grammar as well as cosmology. Where could he turn for help; where could he find true advice? In this search, he stumbled across literature and there he discovered a rich arsenal not only of examples of life-lived, but also blueprints for living. He investigated this rich abundance and came to the conviction that for him, literature and also history could help much more toward the solution of his concrete life problems than all of the sciences put together.44
This story of Boccaccio can help us turn the focus of our thoughts in another direction: no longer on the path from Bacon to Dewey but the reversed from Dewey back through Vico to Isocrates. We previously reviewed how Bacon, through his Novum Organon, overthrew the aristotelian organon. He gave modern science the task to observe nature, to obey its laws, in order, by so doing, to be able to control it. Knowledge is power; knowledge applied in technology gives power over nature and raises the kingdom of man above nature. Then, by extending the baconian idea beyond nature to man himself, Dewey launched his philosophy of technology which, with its strictly pragmatistic orientation, sought to place the realm of praxis conclusively under the dictates of poiesis.
At the same time, Bacons revolution and Deweys reconstruction of philosophy were based on a common and most remarkable epistemological premise. This states: in a strict sense, man can know only what he himself has produced. Giambattista Vico basically agreed with this statement (in his autobiography, Vico specifically names Francis Bacon along with Plato, Tacitus, and Grotius as his most important authors and teachers).45 But Vico so radically questioned how applicable this premise was to nature, that he has been correctly characterized as the great opponent of the new science, in the style of Descartes and Bacon, which was rising powerfully in the 17th and 18th centuries.46 Vico, who, with some other significant Italian educators, shares the sad fate of being generously skipped and neglected by educators, made it emphatically clear in the title of his main work in 1725, Principles of a New Science,47 that he wanted to propose another view of science in opposition to modern (natural) science. This critique of the cartesian and baconian model of science greatly deserves our attention because it so completely undercuts the justification for thinking of education as poiesis and because it supports the basis for education as praxis.
Vico, the lonely philosopher from Naples, opposed the view of a science which stood in such high fashion in his day and which had long captured European thought. He criticized the one-sidedness of a scientific cultureand also of an educationwhich ignores the realm of social ethics, i.e., which reinterprets human interaction poietically. He opposed cartesian rationalism and the bacon-lockian empiricism to an equal degree.48 Of course, this is not the place to recite Vicos critique in great detail, nor can we carefully consider his metaphysics, except where his standpoint can act as guide for furthering our own thoughts.
Vicos polemic against the cartesians49 is not only important historically, it is also relevant today. It culminated in the accusation that they reduced the scientific method to the line of reasoning which brings the type of certainty found in geometry. What the cartesian understands by the method, namely the geometric method, is in reality only one of many. In contrast, Vico determinedly advocated the thesis that there are and must be as many various methods as there are different kinds of objects studied. If the cartesian method qua geometric method is applied to a non-mathematical object, then it necessarily becomes abstract and with serious consequences, unavoidably confuses truth and certainty. Descartes observed how mathematics usually operates as a long chain of conclusions. This approach is legitimate in its realm, but it led Descartes to the false assumption that all human knowledge can also be arranged in a similar chain of rational conclusions. In reality, however, such mathematical certainty has nothing in common with, for example, political things. For Vico, any attempt to apply the geometric method to the practical life of man, or in other words, any attempt to place the realm of practice under the jurisdiction of the geometric method meant false thinking according to rational rules. In particular, it meant to scorn human nature, which is always uncertain because it is formed by freewill and cannot be precalculated.50
If we look closer at Vicos basic distinction between truth (verum) and certainty (certum), we can see that the verum represents a priori truth like that found, for example, in mathematical thought, where each step can be strictly demonstrated. Such a priori knowledge, however, applies only to that which the knower himself has produced; this applies to mathematics, of course, because mathematics is indeed a product of man. Such knowledge is and will always remain a human invention. Descartes error lay in the belief that this system of symbols is the discovery of an objective structure of the real world, that it is an eternal and universal characteristic of it.51 Vico believed strongly that we can really know, that is from its causes, only what we ourselves have made (he even formulated it: verum et factum convertuntur). In the strict sense, then, we can have a truth and a science only of that which we have produced ourselves (and therefore know them from their causes): of the constructions and creations of geometry, mathematics, logic, poetry. Of that, which we have not produced ourselves and which we therefore can only observe outwardly, of nature, of things, of man, etc., there can be only certainty and awareness, but in the strict sense, there can be no science.
Vicos critique of the cartesian principle of Cogito (ergo sum)I think, therefore I amand of the principle of rationalistic evidence clearly illustrates this point. Vico opposed the cartesian criterion of evidence not merely because this rationalistic philosophy underestimates and devalues history, poetry, philosophy, tradition, etc., that is, not merely because it disregards the realm which his humanistic and legal education had convinced him was so particularly valuable. Rather, his principal objection to cartesian philosophy grew out of the observation that if any form of skepticism and of doubt should be excluded because of this criterion of rational evidence, then we must deny all academic disciplines their scientific character which are not or cannot be built on this criterion. If consciousness, and with it every human activity, is assigned to reason alone, then those human capabilities which are not based on the certain, but rather on the probable, must necessarily be belittled or even denied, that is, those not based on rational reasoning, but rather on the more or less reasonable: sensitivity, imagination, fantasy, etc.
Vico argued, therefore, that cartesian thinking can only give certainty, the certainty that I think. However, it does not give me an explanation of what thinking is or how it proceeds; it brings only the certainty of my existence, but it cannot promise truth or science. At best, thinking can indicate or provide an opportunity to verify my existence, but it never causes it. As it states in De antiquissima Italorum sapientia, thinking is not the reason that I am mind, but at most, it is a sign:
If we therefore want to attain to real science and not merely to an awareness of our own self, the cartesian method, which has so strongly influenced modern science, isnt sufficient. Instead, we must follow the principle of verum est ipsum factum, that is, the conviction that, for us, the true, in the authentic sense of the word, can only be what we ourselves have made.
Obviously, in doing this, Vico joins himself to the platonic tradition which does not shift the criterion for truth to man, but sees it anchored in God.53 And Vico formulates it in such a way that God knows nature and every thing, because it is he who has created them. If an authentic science is a knowledge which is based on the causesa per causas scirethen who else could have a real knowledge or science of something except he who has produced or created it? The fundamental condition for the real knowledge of something is that the knower has made it himself; science is the knowledge of causes and with it, a knowledge of the process of creating that reality. From this insight, Vico does not conclude that man must then live in complete agnosticism, but he does infer from it the fundamental limitedness and partiality of all human knowledge: man always thinks within boundaries; he analyzes, without ever being able to reach a final synthesis; he describes, but always only the little which he is capable of grasping. To want to hide from these limitations would virtually be wanton arrogance, for all human knowledge is like man himself: finite and imperfect.
But beyond these limitations, Vico discloses a realm for man in which he is creator and producer. Strictly following his criterion for truth, Vico shows a realm where we can have not only awareness and certainty, but also knowledge and science. Mathematics is a human construction, man is its inventor. It follows that man possesses a mathematical science and knows the truthfulness and correctness of each particular mathematical step and procedure. Howeverand here mathematics as a human product is distinguished from nature as a divine creationeven though in this realm we can speak of something which man has created, mathematics deals with merely fictitious, abstract, and imaginary things; thus mathematics or any science which depends upon it provides us the truth and science of only fictions, abstractions, and imagination, but not the truth or science of a factual, concrete, tangible reality.
And yet, there is a human reality which has not been merely contrived fictitiously, as mathematics. It is not only a pure artifact, but something which man has factually produced by himself and which, in contrast to abstract mathematics (including mans modern sophisticated statistics) represents a concrete reality: the world of his actions, the world of morality, the world of history. To Vico, it seems undoubtably true:
Bogdan Suchodolski has emphatically pointed out that Vicos primary concern was not to construct a science of history (which is usually seen as his lasting contribution). Rather he primarily wanted to identify the historical nature of man which removes man from all rationalizing and from all pure logic.55 From this, the statement, verum et factum convertuntur (truth and doing are interchangeable), turns out to be the thesis of the relationship of (or at least of the analogy between) the historical world and the nature of man.
This thesis strengthens the critique of cartesian philosophy: the nature of man is not exhausted in rationality, first it is sensory and imaginative. If we follow the development of human nature in the history of common peoplewhich is precisely the object of Vicos New Sciencethe distinction between three periods in the course of this history becomes obvious: one in which the sensory nature of man dominates; a second which is ruled by imagination; and a third period of reflective reason.
In the first human era, people lived wildly and impassionedVico speaks of beastsbut God had already planted a feeling for their humanity deep in their hearts. And for them, this humanity expressed itself first by recognizing its limitations, i.e., by admitting that there must be something greater than themselves which transcends their own experience. No matter how rudimentary it may have been in the beginning, that which raised man above this impetuous animal savagery to humanity was not an arrogant anthropocentric consciousness, but the opposite, a theocentric metaphysics. Thus these primitive men introduced a lightning-hurling Jupiter, to whom they petitioned for help and protection; they erected the first altars. They made an end to the aimless roaming about; they led the woman into a cave, contracted the first marriage, and established housing for the first families. Soon they gained an inkling of the continuity of the human species, and felt the obligation to honor their forefathers and to preserve their memory: they began to inter their dead. According to Vico, the sacred contraction of marriage and burial practices are the first and most humanizing institutions.
Primitive men, endowed with a vivid imagination, soon developed their first myths and in turn, they believed them because they recognized their own passions and their own nature in them. Thus, mythology does not turn out to be a reprehensible untruth, but to be the expression of human imagination and a mirror of the probable.
The probable (verosimile) belongs to the realm of imagination, and if seen precisely, it represents the true, viewed through the imagination. This world of the probable can never claim the unequivocal certainty of scientifically established truth, but it is, nevertheless, a truth, in that mankind shapes its own human action in agreement with the myths.
In the second era of mankind, because we still lacked a law which we had accepted as our own inner law (and which could be called our conscience), we acted as if the mythical Jupiter really existed. In this way, mans practical action became guided by the myth, the probable, human projection and explanation. When Vico says that human knowledge of history is possible because man himself produces it, he was not referring to a knowledge like that of logic or a rationalistic science. He was referring to a thoroughly practical knowledge:
The rational element does not emerge until the third period. However, it should be remembered from the outset that, for Vico, man is not capable of obtaining knowledge of two areas: nature and God; nature because it was not made by man, but by God; and God, becauseaccording to Vicos epistemological criteriona science of him (including the proof of his existence) would indicate that God himself had been produced by man which, of course, would no longer represent what we mean when we speak of God. It is true that Vico had relatively little concern for nature or for the problem of knowing it. His interests were wholly concentrated on the world of man. It can be assumedand there are many references for itthat Vico was interested in nature and things only to the extent to which they pertain to human activity or action. Vico held that direct knowledge of God was impossible; however, an indirect knowledge could be attained: the first, knowledge from the creationaccording to the model of natural theology; second, (and this follows from Vicos own productive thinking) knowledge of divine providence as it is manifested in the history of common people and in the life history of the individual person. So, with more careful examination, the idea of divine providence proves to be the main scaffolding of the entire history of mankind as well as of each person. This united faith in a provident God...is the spiritual unity which gives form and life to the temporal world of people.57
In the process, Vico turns himself completely away from any type of anthropocentric thought and aligns himself closely to that world view for which we have previously used the metaphor of the world theater. This is shown when Vico discusses a question which since then is no longer excluded from anthropological thought and which has been formulated by Bogdan Suchodolski: how is it that man is so great, but that men are so meager? For Vico there is no doubt that this world has been created by a Spirit, in other words: it has been composed by an author who thinks about the particular goals which men set for themselves in a different, often contrasting, and always in a superior manner. We resolve to realize certain goals and to satisfy particular needs, but in reality, we reach entirely different results, sometimes contradicting our aims, often reaching higher goals than we intended. In this way, however, it becomes clear that the human society is guided by a higher being; of course, this does not mean it is determined by fate, but that it follows a perfect plan. Without going into further detail here into Vicos concept of providence, it must be stressed that this providence does not eliminate the free will of man; it doesnt even restrict it, for how the role is played and, with it, what contribution the part will make to the rest of the play, always remains a personal matter. The great pedagogical task consists of allowing the human person to see this order, to recognize his own mission, and freely and responsibly to perform his role on the worlds stage.
Vicos distinction between the particular goals of man and the universal aims of providence is obviously based on a transcendent understanding of providence, similar to that of Augustine. Indeed, it pertains to a providence, which subordinates the finite to the infinite, the partial to the total; which expands the partial view of man which is limited and restricted to his needs, feelings, wishes, and expectations to a comprehensive view of man.58 And precisely because of this distinction between the human world of human action, on the one side, and providence on the other, it becomes clear what human knowledge can and cannot achieve during the era of reason. During the era of imagination, a human knowledge exists which expresses itself in the form of mythology and which, in this manner, personifies the probable. Without doubt, it pertains to a particular knowledge and not to that true knowledge which is always a knowing of the causes. However, it represents a working knowledge and it is for man an absolutely real knowledge (which counts even more) because it finds its expression in the activity of his spirit, in what he produces, in his doing. It is out of this practical nature of the probable from which man creates the truth of what he knows. True is what man makes, and his knowledge is actualized only in human action. For him, however, this knowledge is not philosophical, but poetic; not the pure reason, but rather something reasonable.
In clarifying the axiom that the nature of the human spirit takes delight in unity, Vico in The New Science, states:
This citation can direct our thoughts to several further points. First: The true knowledge of man is a practical not a theoretical knowledge; it is a knowledge of human action, of human doing, of human history. That highest (theoretical) truth is possessed by God alone because He has created and made everything. If man, nevertheless, strives for this knowledge, it will always remain a mystery to him because in order to possess it, he himself would have to be the creator of it.60 We dont reach this truth theoretically, rather we sense it through practice: for the true is that which man has created and this true is always practical. In the ontological sense, man does not create the true, but rather he seeks it in an endless process; for Vico, this truth is God, and, in turn, man cannot know him directly, but rather indirectly through the manifestations of his activities. Therefore, even divine truth appears to man as action and production, and, likewise, man is able to know it only as such.
Second: the realm of human knowledge rejects the dichotomous true or false; the human world is not arranged according to deductive conclusion or logical argumentation; instead, it is dominated by the analogically probable, not by pure reason, but by the reasonable.
At this point, we can distinguish between reason and reasonableness (a distinction Betrand Russell made using the terms rational and reasonable, in German between Vernunft and Vernünftigkeit though this distinction is not as clear as it is, for example, in Italian (Vicos) between razionale and raggionevole, in French (Pascals) between rationnel and raisonnable. Even though both concepts have been derived from the same root, they are not interchangeable, for they characterize two different types of human thinking. The Belgian philosopher of law, Chaim Perelman, who has profoundly analyzed this theme, wrote:
Reason, in a strictly rational sense, corresponds to mathematical logic and leads to necessary conclusions. Rationality utilizes a priori, certain self-evident and immutable truths which simultaneously apply individually and universally. (In Kants terms they are not restricted to private validity onlyPrivatgültigkeit). For even the particulars are obvious in this rationality: It imposes its themes on all rational beings, because it owes nothing to experience or to dialogue, and depends neither on education nor on the culture of a milieu or of an epoch.62 This form of rationality, which is bound to self-evident truths and to necessary conclusions, is justified when it is applied to theoretical knowledge abstracted from the reality of human action, hence, for example, in mathematics or in formal logic. By contrast, however, if we transfer this form of reason to human action and imagine someone who plans and shapes his or her life strictly on a rational basis, then we must certainly agree with Betrand Russell that such a rational man is nothing less than an inhuman monster. Brand Blanshard has characterized the traits of this rational man, which fatefully reminds us of the ideal which the pragmatist, John Dewey, had in mind as the result of an education guided by science: this individual never acts impulsively, but precisely calculates what he does; he looks ahead and cunningly adjusts his means to his ends; he never makes a mistake which could be avoided through mere intelligence; he sees through everyone else, hair-splittingly finding their failings and weaknesses, and exploiting them mercilessly for his own purposes. He is icily competent, intimidatingly efficient, free from all romantic and humanitarian non-sense, knows what he wants, and moves toward it in the straightest line.63
Third: although in his New Science, Vico distinguishes three periods in the common history of nations and specifically stipulates the third period as the era of reason and philosophy, it is not accidental that he devotes himself in greatest detail and by far in the most penetrating manner to the second period, that of imagination and of the poetic truth of the probable. The reason for this is obvious: it is not rational reason nor critical philosophylike it had been presented in Cartesianismwhich can reasonably advise and direct human action, but rather the probable of poetic portrayals and examples. In his inaugural speech of 1701, Vico distinguished the wise from the common: while neither knows anything, one pretends to know and the other, by contrast, admits his ignorance. Vico added that in each case the wise would speak the truth and, admitting and confessing this limitation, would stand behind an opinion until a contrary position is shown to be more probable.64
The probable, however, is expressed in poetic form; it is manifested in example and in the well-founded portrayal. But it is especially the poets, the literary figures, who present this, and not the rational philosophers. Vico then plainly explained that he was
For just as it is a special characteristic of children to take lifeless things in hand and to speak with them in play as though they were living persons, so it is the most sublime task of poetry to give non-sensory objects concrete form and to fill them with passion.66
In his famous letter to Francesco Saverio Estevan, once again Vico raises the example of the ideal Captain, Godfrey of Torquato Tasso, and objects to the accusation that the poet recounts nothing but fables, because this Godfrey is an example of how a captain should be at all times and with all people. So it is for all other poetic figures no matter how much they may differ according to gender, age, temperament, customs, nationality, external living conditions, or their particular fate: they are the everlasting possession of human culturedepicted by politicians, economists, philosophers, and rendered into living pictures by the poets.
In that letter, Vico also contended against the scientific education of his day which acted as though young people, when they leave the educational system and enter into life, must be prepared for a world which is made up of lines, numbers, and algebraic formulas. The school stuffed their heads full of such highfaluting things as proofs, evidence, and logical conclusions and placed little value on the probable. However, the probable is true in a much higher way than logically deduced constructions, for it becomes the rule by which we judge what appears to be true for all or the greatest portion of mankind. There is no more certain standard than this rule which we can followneither for politicians when they make their decisions; nor for captains when they steer their ships; neither for speakers when they plead their causes, nor for judges when they pronounce their judgments; neither for physicians when they heal their patients, nor for moral theologians when they advise our conscience. And finally, it is the rule by which we settle squabbles and disputes, enter into compromises, select options, offer advice, and draft plans for the future. However, we dont sharpen our ability to master and successfully apply this rule by rational science or critique; instead, what will help us develop this ability is the art of recognizing the probable, which manifests itself in the tradition of the whole human race through common sense and the authority of the public spirit. Therefore, we must not study the nit-picking deductions of the philosophers and the razor-sharp conclusions of the scientists, but rather we must first serve as apprentices to the orators, the historians, and the writers.67
At this point, if we turn our focus away from Vico and follow the path to where Vicos thoughts have led us, we are led directly to Isocrates and to the origins of a rhetorical theory of education. As a contemporary, in a polemic against Plato, Isocrates asked in Panathenacius: Since I exclude science and specialities, whom, then, do I call educated? His clear and distinct reply states:
As we have done so in the course of this text, we will not propose an interpretation of Isocrates here; instead, we will use his ideas only as a guidepost for our own reflections. Therefore, it will suffice to indicate that Isocrates utilizes the term philosophy to refer to this type of education. When Platos conceptual framework and philosophy began to be more widely spread, philosophy came to be understood as a particular type of thinking schooled in mathematics which viewed being as a dialectic. To Isocrates, who saw the business of philosophy concentrated completely on human action and interaction, this other notion of philosophy referred either to an exact science or to paradoxical speculation.
His basic premise was that, for human action, it is better and much more important to make reasonable judgments about practical things than to have a precise knowledge of the useless. This allows him to move doxa, the probable, to the center of his philosophy. In the process, he necessarily opposes the view which would build education on the theoretical and not on studies drawn from concrete situations of life. Thus by placing doxa, the probable, as the focal point of his view of education, Isocrates, vows opposition to the rationalism which attempts to form life in a thoroughly scientific manner.69
Similarly, Vico later understood Isocrates doxa as the imperfect knowledge which corresponds to the imperfect nature of man. With this then, he claims that we will never be able to solve the complex questions of practical doing or of human interaction through science or through scientific knowledge. Isocrates does not maintain that such a certain knowledge is fundamentally unreachable or impossible, but he is convinced that, in the end, such a knowledge, even if it were attained, would not determine human action.70
Since Isocrates was not primarily concerned with the irrefutability of unambiguous, scientific knowledge, he brought forward something quite different with regard to practice: consensus and understanding among interacting persons. This consensus, which Isocrates applies to both political as well as interpersonal action, does not mean simply what the mass of the people says, nor may it be superficially equated with what Plato had dismissed as mere opinion and which he wanted to exclude from philosophical thought. Isocrates openly contrasted the platonic construction of a state based upon knowledge with the ideal of a personal dominion which is based upon consensus and understanding. He aimed much more at the often unexpressed, but underlying, assumptions, upon which reasonable human action is always based. Thus, he directs his attention to proven experiences and traditions, provided that they can be events focused on human action.
However, we must always seek understanding about this orientation and we do this in a continuous dialogue aimed toward consensus. So seen, science, especially mathematics or geometry, does not become the authority which guarantees human education, but rather language and the ability to speak and to lead an intelligent dialogue:
Therefore, the despiser of education and culture must be seen as detestable as those who sin against the divine.71
At this point, the significance of dialogue is illuminated as the decisive knowledge upon which an education for practice (praxis) is based. From the perspective of modern science, whether it be from a cartesian rationalistic or from a baconian empirical view of science, and certainly from those who would attempt to apply a scientific tradition to education, the fact that we must be in the world with others and that we must be constantly striving to communicate with others becomes a source of irritation from which we should protect ourselves, or even better, against which we must defend ourselves. For Descartes, childhood and the days of our schooling are a possible source of faulty judgment; Bacon warns of the delusions which education plants in us; Dewey wants to subject social action as completely as possible to scientific control.
The doubt-removing certainty and the definitive nature of scientific knowledge are not attained by a consensus of interacting persons nor through an understanding of the most probable. To the contrary:
In education as practice, it is critical to recognize that the educational process cannot be thought of or practiced in any other way than as a dialogue. The analogic dialogue, however, is the exact opposite of the dichotomous monologue represented by the logical discourse of rationalistic tradition or by the one-dimensional perspective of a strictly scientific outlook.73 For it is obvious that a view of knowledge and of scientific thought, which places in the foreground rational deduction or the explicit security of being correct or incorrect, leads to a monologue. Thus in an ice-cold correctness, it excludes every form of personal commitment, human obligation, faithful covenants,74 as well as every bond which connects actions with place and time or with the historical situation as it arises among communicating persons.
From a science of education which is basically monological and dichotomous, all of these prove to be disruptive, confounding elements to the pure process of rational thought like the subjective factor or individual bias.75 And yet, the aim of human action and also the aim of education is not understood in the form of an abstract conceptual truth. Nor is action to be deduced directly from the true, i.e., from the method of logic; instead, to achieve an aimwhich applies both to human doing and educatingit must be shown to be truth-like (Vicos verosimile), which occurs only in examples.76
Nature can be controlled technologically (until it fights back, which it now seems to be doing), but human practice (praxis), which includes education, is not nature; it is characterized by alterability and changeableness. Therefore, in this case, a procedure which investigates the general, in order to claim authority over the particular, is entirely inappropriate. The type of thinking which wants to interpret this process as the practical application of theoretical knowledge proves to be completely foolish.
In the context of human action and education, knowledge of the general cannot be sharply distinguished from the knowledge which is required by a particular situation. For human action as well as for education, a generalization applies only in an implied way, that is, it is sought and attained within the knowledge of what should be done and what is required by the particular situation. Seen from the other side, it is the particular which makes a generalization concrete. In fact, a particular which illustrates a generalization is called an example.
We are here reminded again of Tassos Godfrey, drawn from Vico. Just as it is that through his exemplary and emulatable behavior this particular captain can be an example for all commanders, so every example extends beyond itself; it directs our vision to a generalization for all examples and brings something new to those to whom it is presented. It appeals to us, it provokes us, it challenges us to take a position and to make a decision, and it calls us to act.
This pathway from example to example seems to be the appropriate procedure for that which cannot be transformed into a strict methodology, which cannot, strictly speaking, become a scientificated experience; consequently, it is the procedure of human practice (praxis) and of education par excellence. Practical knowledge is not interested in that which is independent of particulars or which is beyond consideration of the facts of the situation. Unlike theoretical knowledge, it wants no certainty which is independent of the situation. It is not satisfied when basic practical needs for security and perspective are met by treating things as instances of equal weight... It seeks to place each situation into its context for action and thereby to consider its particularity. Practical knowledge exceeds the particular by making the particular identifiable in a comprehensive context of situations, as if to enable it to be read. But particulars are not gathered as simply interchangeable instances of a conceptually formulated generalization, but rather as examples.
We come to a temporary conclusion by recognizing that the basic character of education is a dialogue and that the pedagogical process is a pathway from example to example. Of course, what remains for us to add are two prospects which indicate the direction in which our thoughts must be continued (in another place). One point pertains to the view of man underlying our thoughts; and the other applies to the necessity of making the educational process concrete.
Following the grammatical distinction of the three persons, we can distinguish between three views of man: a first-person I of the lyric, a second-person you of the drama, and a third-person he-, she-, or it of the epic. Building upon this, it becomes obvious that we can lay the foundation for a view of man which is based upon the drama; one which recognizes the significance of the I-thou relationship, an interpretation, which is shared by all humanistic thought.
This view does not interpret human life as the mere lyrical expression and unfolding of the selfs individual drives, inclinations, needs, and interests; nor does it understand human life in the quasi-objective production of a thing which can be described from a distance as in an epic; rather, it sees the basis of human life as persons encountering one another in discussion as it appears to happen on the paradigm of the stage.
Such a view of man must first recognize the haphazard nature of human life. It must begin from that astounding realization which Pascal so profoundly considered, that I am precisely here and not there, now and not then. This realization has led Christians to turn to God; it has plunged the nihilists into an acknowledgement of the absurdity of their existence; for us, we are once again pointed to the metaphor of the world theater and to the notion Marcel described in Homo Viator that we are underway. Thus, such a view of man admits that rational reason is impotent to comprehend all of the ramifications which are intertwined in human life and history, that it is unable to measure life with the straight edge of the intellect (Vico) and thus that it is incompetent to guide us through the labyrinth of the world (Comenius). Further, with Kierkegaard, such a view of man accounts for the frailness of being human because it is convinced that the personality is conceived by choice and because it recognizes that wager and risk are fundamental characteristics of human life. It will understand human life, then, as none other than a project whose success or failure is completed in uncertainty. Finally, this view of man will not make the arrogant attempt to solve the never-completely-knowable mystery of the human person through science; to do so would actually be to want to destroy it.
Concerning the second prospect of making the educational process concrete, three points seem to emerge from our thoughts: the teacher and educator as a representative of values, examples of life-lived, and the argumentative dialogue. Based upon our thoughts, if we raise the question of what makes a situation educational, the distinctive characteristic seems to be that an educational situation consists of a collision between various blueprints for doing and living. As already shown, the person to be educated always encounters these blueprints as examples, whether it be in the person of the teacher or educator, whether in the form of examples presented of life-lived, or whether it be in the form of the arguments expressed by the teacher which would convince the person why these blueprints for doing and living are superior or preferable.
At this point, where we cannot fully develop this prospect, it must suffice to stress with special emphasis that the three named points should be given the utmost importance. Based on our thoughts, the teacher and educator must not be considered primarily and certainly not preeminently as a professionalized social or instructional engineer. Instead, the teacher must clearly be seen as a person, in other words, as one example, who embodies universal values, even if at the moment such a view of the teacher or educator blows in the face of the Sirocco (south west wind) of educational science as well as of the Borg (the cold wind of the adriatic sea) of political popularity.
In considering what education and culture have to convey to the growing generation, all content would be assessed and selected primarily by how well it represents examples of life-lived. Therefore, we would ask if it can appropriately help a person to form his own life, possibly a revision of some of the residual convictions left over from the epoch of the curriculum euphoria.
Finally, education as practice (praxis) leads us to postulate with regard to the third point, that the teacher or educator is a thou to the person to be educated, who neither retreats into the comfortable nonchalance of a libertarian relinquishment nor exerts educational power in a despotic manner. Thus, teachers attain their instructional authority by representing their own personal standpoint in argument, by justifying their own claims in dialogue, and by grounding their own projects in conviction.
Only in this way can the educator create an educational relationship which, as Dewey wanted, becomes the embryo of a humane society: a society in which we encounter each other as persons, act together, and dialogue constantly about our action.
1. The critical reader will realize that we introduce the concept, socialism, here as the counterpart to the opposing concept, naturalism. It is not used in a narrow political-ideological sense, but rather in such a broad sense that it includes all standpoints which grant the society priority over the person.
2. Compare Immanuel Kant, Über den Gemeinspruch: Das mag in der Theorie richtig sein, taugt aber nicht für die Praxis, Akademie-Ausgabe 8 (1793): 273-314.
3. Friedrich Gentz, Nachtrag zu dem Raisonnement des Herrn Professor Kant über das Verhältnis von Theorie und Praxis, Über Theorie und Praxis (Frankfurt, 1967) 91.
4. Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, Meine Nachforschungen über den Gang der Natur in der Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts, ed. Arnold Stenzel (1797; Bad Heilbrunn, 1968) 97-98.
5. He used an old German word Schurzfell for Schürze (apron).
6. Pestalozzi, Meine Nachforschungen über den Gang der Natur in der Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts 132.
7. Pestalozzi, Meine Nachforschungen über den Gang der Natur in der Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts 98-99.
8. Pestalozzi, Meine Nachforschungen über den Gang der Natur in der Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts 132.
9. Compare also Theatrum Mundi, Götter, Gott und Spielleiter im Drama von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, ed. Franz Link and Günter Niggl (Berlin, 1981).
10. Emmanuel Mounier, Das Personalistische Manifest (Zürich, 1936) 89. (Manifeste au service du person)
11. Compare this position with Wolfgang Brezinka, Von der Pädagogik zur Erziehungswissenschaft (Weinheim, 1971); see also the completely revised edition: Metatheorie der Erziehung (Munich, 1978).
12. See Heinrich Rombach, Der Kampf der Richtungen in der Wissenschaft, Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 13 (1967): 37-69.
13. Compare Eckard König, Technologische Probleme der Erziehungswissenschaftam Beispiel der Beratung, Symposium zur technologischen Funktion von Erziehungswissenschaft, ed. Helmwart Hierdeis (Innsbruck, 1984) 54-73.
14. Compare also Hans Scheuerl, Probleme der Selbstverwirklichung in der pädagogischen Diskussion der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Realisation de la Personnalité par lEducation. Actes du VIIe Congrès Mondial de lAssociation Internationale de Sciences de lEducation 1977 (Gent, 1978) 175-197.
15. Giuseppe Flores dArcais, La pedagogia nel pensiero cristiano (Milano, 1954).
16. Compare in addition the brilliant interpretation of Johannes Schurr, Pestalozzis Abendstunde, (Passau, 1984); see also Michel Soëtard, Pestalozzi ou la naissance de leducateur (Bern, 1981).
17. Compare the remarks on this topic previously made in chapter two.
18. Johann Amos Comenius, Pampaedia, ed. Dimitri Tschizewskij (Heidelberg, 1965) 17.
19. Wohlfhart Pannenberg, Person und Subject, Identität, eds. Odo Marquard and Karlheinz Stierle (Munich, 1979) 407-422; cited on p. 412.
20. Ralf Dahrendorf, Homo sociologicus (Opladen, 1977).
21. The careful reader clearly notices at this point also that we are not concerned philologically to give an interpretation of the writing of Cicero, but rather pedagogically to allow our reflections on these thoughts of Cicero to be kindled anew.
22. Emmanuel Mounier, Das Personalistische Manifest 81.
23. Compare Gabriel Marcel, Philosophie der Hoffnung (Munich, 1964).
24. Martin Buber, Bilder von Gut und Böse (Heidelberg, 1964) 74.
25. Pannenberg, Person und Subject, Identität 418.
26. Compare in particular Gabriel Marcel, Homo Viator: Introduction to a Metaphysic of Hope (New York: Harper and Row, 1962).
27. See Marcel, LHomme Problematique (Paris, 1955).
28. Marcel, Being and Having, trans. Katherine Farrer (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965) 160.
29. Marcel, Being and Having 163.
30. Marcel, Being and Having 164.
31. Erich Fromm, Haben oder Sein. Die seelischen Grundlagen einer neuen Gesellschaft (Stuttgart, 1976) 29.
32. Mounier, Das Personalistische Manifest 76.
33. Mounier, Das Personalistische Manifest 78.
34. Compare also Mounier, Die Erziehung der Person, Die Pädagogik der frankophonen Länder im 20. Jahrhundert, eds. Winfried Böhm and Giuseppe Flores dArcais (Stuttgart, 1980) 145-150.
35. Compare the introductory chapter of his The Education of Man (1826).
36. Marcel, Sein und Haben (Paderborn, 1968) 49.
37. See in addition Eugen Rosenstock-huessy, Der unbezahlbare Mensch (1955; Berlin, 1962).
38. Mounier, Das personalistische Manifest 87.
39. Romano Guardini, Der Gegensatz. Versuche zu einer Philosophie des Lebendig-Konkreten (Mainz, 1925). In a personal conversation with the author, Guardini assured that he held this book to be his most important and was therefore disappointed that it was given so little notice.
40. Guardini, Der Gegensatz. Versuche zu einer Philosophie des Lebendig-Konkreten 179.
41. Guardini, Der Gegensatz. Versuche zu einer Philosophie des Lebendig-Konkreten 204, fnt. 41.
42. John Ziman, Reliable Knowledge (Cambridge, 1978); in German: Wie zuverlässig ist wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis? (Braunschweig, 1982) 133.
43. Compare Martin R. Textor, Integrative Familientherapie (Heidelberg, 1985).
44. Compare Giovanni Boccaccio, Das Labyrinth der Liebe, Gesammelte Werke, ed. Max Krell, vol. 5 (Munich/Leipzig, 1924); see also Eugenio Garin, Die Verteidigung der Poesie, Geschichte und Dokumente der abendländischen Pädagogik, vol. 2 (Reinbek, 1966).
45. Compare Enrico De Mas, Vicos Four Authors, Giambattista Vico. An International Symposium, eds. Giorgio Tagliacozzo, et al. (Baltimore, 1969) 3-14.
46. Giuseppe Flores dArcais, in the preface to his anthology, Giambattista Vico: La pedagogia. Antologia degli scritti (Brescia, 1962).
47. Giambattista Vico, Principi di una scienza nuova intorno alla natura delle nazioni per la quale si ritruovano i principi di altro sistema del diritto naturale delle genti, Opere filosofiche, ed. Paolo Cristofolini (1725; Firenze, 1971) 169-338.
48. Compare Giuseppe Flores dArcais, G.B. Vico, Nuove Questioni di Storia de]la Pedagogia, vol. 2 (Brescia, 1977) 77-108.
49. As Yvon Belaval has pointed out, in reality, Vicos opposition to Descartes must be directed more against the Cartesians for his understanding of Descartes was probably based only on second-hand information. Compare Vico and Anti-Cartesianism, Giambattista Vico. An International Symposium, ed. Giorgio Tagliacozza (Baltimore, 1969) 77-91.
50. See Vico, Opere filosofiche 811.
51. Compare Isaiah Berlin, Vicos Concept of Knowledge, Against the Current. Essays in the History of Ideas (Oxford, 1981) 111-119.
52. Vico, Opere filosofiche 74.
53. Giuseppe Flores dArcais, ed., Giambattista Vico. La pedagogia (Brescia, 1962) XVlff.
54. Vico, The New Science, trans. Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch (New York: Anchor Books, 1961) 52-53.
55. See also Bogdan Suchodolski, Anthropologie philosophique aux XVII et XVIII siecles (Warszawa, 1981) 413ff.
56. Vico, The New Science 33, 36.
57. Vico, The New Science 180.
58. G. F. dArcais, Giambattista Vico. La pedagogia xxx.
59. Vico, The New Science 32.
60. The anthropological way of thinking, constitutive of the modern view, shows itself to be an arrogant presumptuousness, to be a dangerous rut, and to be an expression of that God complex about which we have previously spoken in conjunction with Horst-Eberhard Richter (see chapter 2). It actually delimits itself to that fictive world of mathematical exactness which is produced by man; and in reference to the historical reality of mankind, one could establish with Bruno Snell: In the historical sciences, for example, the sentence seems almost to apply: the more exactly something is established, the less important it basically is. (Bruno Snell, Theorie und Praxis im Denken des Abendlandes (Hamburg, 1951) 28).
61. Chaim Perelmann, The New Rhetoric and the Humanities. Essays on Rhetoric and Its Application (Dordrecht, 1979) 117.
62. Perelmann, The New Rhetoric and the Humanities. Essays on Rhetoric and Its Application.
63. Brand Blanshard, Reason and Goodness (London, 1961) 411.
64. Vico, Opere filosofiche 732ff.
65. Vico, Vom Wesen und Weg der geistigen Bildung 79.
66. Compare Vico, Opere filosofiche 441.
67. See also Vico, Opere filosofiche, vol. 5, eds. Carteggio, Benedetto Croce and Fausto Nicolini (Bari, 1929).
68. Isocrates, Panathenaicus, trans. George Nortin (London: William Heineman, 1929) 30-32; see also Ernst Lichtenstein, Der Ursprung der Pädagogik im griechischen Denken (Hannover, 1970).
69. Christoph Eucken, Isokrates (Berlin, 1983) 35.
70. Eucken, Isokrates 287.
71. Isocrates, Panathenaicus, Antidosis 253-256.
72. Heinz-Gerd Schmitz, Lernen und Rhetorik, Sankt Augustin (1982) 21.
73. Compare Chaim Perelman, Logik und Argumentation (Königstein/Ts., 1979); from the same author, The Realm of Rhetoric, trans. William Kluback (Indiana: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1982).
74. Compare what was previously said in connection with Gabriel Marcel.
75. See also in detail Ernesto Grassi, Die Macht der Phantasie (Königstein/Ts., 1979).
76. Grassi, Verteidigung des Individuellen Lebens (Bern, 1946); see also from the same author, especially, Rhetoric as Philosophy (University Park and London, 1980).