thumbnail of Hazards to education; Philosophical diversity, part one
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
The following tape recorded program is a presentation of the National Association of educational broadcasters. Hazards to education in the United States. The University of Chicago radio office presents the third in a series of four talks by Robert Hudgens associate director of the Ford Foundation. Mr. Hutchens spoke under the auspices of the Walgreen lectureship at the University of Chicago. Today's program is entitled philosophical diversity. Mr. Hodgins. We talked last night about a problem arises by philosophical diversity. Is essential. That is the problem of forming a community and the absence of communication and the educational system and particularly in the university. It is the problem of forming a thinking community when the
members of the community cannot think together because they cannot communicate with one another. Specialization means that specialized man cannot think together because their training and their work have split them off from other men. Philosophical diversity may mean that men cannot think together because their principles tacit or expressed are so different that their conversation if they try to have any vote is on parallel lines. This problem is of course particularly difficult because philosophy is itself a university department. And is itself highly specialized. Since philosophy is a university department it cannot be the
concern of any other part of the university. We all know that only the English department can do anything about the kind of writing done by the students at the university. It would be presumptuous for the History Department to set any literary standards for its students just as as it is generally thought important for the English department to pretend to know anything about history. I shall always treasure the remark. Of the chairman of the mathematics department at Chicago. Now long since gone to his reward. He was discussing the future of one of his most promising graduate students and Man of the highest mathematical ability. He said you know Mr. Hutchens I think he's crazy in
some alarm I asked why. And the chairman replied why he's interested in philosophy. If this was a situation in mathematics. And I imagine what I have seen happen when young men in science or in medicine. They exhibited the same wayward tendency to wonder about the wonder about the fundamental presuppositions of their work. As a university department philosophy a subject to Wallie other influences affecting university departments such as they are universally aroused by experimental science. The misconception of research and the horrible fate that has overtaken a once proud degree of Doctor of Philosophy. A specialized department of philosophy. Often appears to be
non humanistic or even anti humanistic. Non-intellectual or even anti intellectual and gauged in the manufactured by esoteric names of PH days who will teach in other departments of philosophy and whose work cannot possibly be of interest. The one a body but persons teaching and departments of philosophy. Things are of course in this respect. No better outside the university than with then. Which is cause and which is a fact. I do not pretend to know in a world gone mad over technology science or the production of material goods and lengthening human life. It is not to be expected that the enlightenment that philosophy might provide would be greatly sought after or highly valued.
Nor can I claim that all modern philosophy does the same at first glance capable of shedding much riper. Pragmatism and positivism. Provide no standard for the criticism of thought. Pragmatism provides perhaps a criterion of action. Positivism doesn't even do that. And it's logical or mathematical manifestations positivism seems to be the efflorescence of man's despair that he cannot more easily make intelligible statements about the world. Marxism is of course an explanation for everything. But entirely aside from its current vulnerability as the official dogma of the political order that is repulsive to Rice.
Marxism fails to account in a rational way for so many important facts about man that it is hard to take its philosophical pretensions very seriously. The prevailing positivism and scientism assure us that only the verifiable facts preferably that was verified in the laboratory and be in any real sense known to us. Since man's terrestrial salvation depends on knowledge. We can rest only to the verifiable facts to save us. Positivism and scientism regard themselves as completing the task done by Epicurus and gracious two thousand years ago. The task of ridding mankind of its superstitious.
Since then the work of many professional philosophers isn't applicable to any of the problems of life. And since the rhetoric of many is directed to showing that no philosophy can have any but a harmful effect on life and since all philosophers seem to disagree anyway. It is natural that the world has become more and more until our handy philosophical. Why worry about something as vague useless confusing contradictory and menacing as philosophy seems to be. And yet civilization is a deliberate pursuit of a common ideal. Education is a deliberate attempt to form men in terms of an ideal.
That is the attempt of a society to produce the type of man that it wants. How does a society determine the type of man it wants. If it doesn't know the type of man that it wants How does it judge the educational efforts it makes. It may be said of course that the type of man I Society wants is a product of many historical and psychological factors. And that whatever philosophy enters into the formation of its vision of man. Is simply a rationalization of this largely unconscious product. But even if this were so we know that in every society there is some vision of man and nature and his destiny. It is elaborated by philosophers living and dead. And
this vision interacts with the traditional view of the type of man desired and this special philosophical vision does amount to a criticism of the tradition and practices of the educational system. Education without a colossal feat of education. Without that is a coherent statement of the aims and possibilities of education is impossible. Of course a custodial system is possible without a philosophy of education. Already other kind of philosophy of cause study or system may in fact be regarded as the efflorescence of a society's despair but it can make no rational incoherent statement about the type of man that it wants to produce. Society therefore declines to
leave the matter to chance providing harmless accommodation and occupation for the young until they reach maturity. This I should be careful to point out is an entirely different thing from saying that the kind of man we want is one who can thank and act for him south and they're forever going to let him learn for himself. While the educational system doesn't really matter for him than keep him out of harm's way. Though I do not favor this philosophy of education. I admit it is one. This is an adaptation of the Lasik fair our free enterprise system to wedge a cation that approaches no one popular at Harvard until the retirement of President Alyea and vestiges of this philosophy still remain to plague the universities. And some variations of what is known as
progressive education seem to be built on the same premises. The term most obvious disadvantages of the Harvard elective system. I don't progressive education. Our first but in a way implies that teachers need not know any more than their pupils. What an education it is. And second they break up the community of learning that might exist among his students and deprive them of the assistance of their fellow students during their schooling of their ability to communicate with their fellow students during their schooling and with their fellow man and later life. A custody all system that frank and open kind which American education seems bent on developing requires neither philosophy nor educational philosophy. And the
question is whether the philosophical diversity now rampant in the road leads inevitably to a custody all system. Must we say that because philosophers differ and some even hold that there is no such thing as philosophy. We cannot have a philosophy of education and hence not an educational system. I assume that we would like to have an educational system rather than a custodial one if we could. If we are to have a philosophy of education it has to rest on a rational conception of man and society. It also has to take into account the philosophical diversity characteristic of our time and has to take a cup moreover of the fact that there is no authority that can decide among competing philosophies
the incredible number of school boards legislatures roads or bridges boards of trustees together with principals superintendents presidents chancellors and faculties are almost all of them more or less autonomous or taught autonomous centers of educational decision and business of raising ourselves by our own bootstraps. You know one new one rational world will not be easy. Well let us see what we can learn from Utopia. Utopia is singularly like the United States and that there is no central educational authority. Nevertheless it has been able to develop a philosophy of education. It has been able to do this in spite of the fact that in Utopia too there is philosophical diversity
utopians even and says that philosophically very city is a good thing. They say that it is always existed even in those periods of history in which there has been a strong religious or political authority that nominally exercised control over the thoughts of man. Utopians pointed out that such authorities have never succeeded and have usually not tried to suppress philosophical diversity. That phenomenon has been a manifestation of modern progress and has appeared only with the totalitarian state. Of course there are in Utopia no under specialized institutions the utopians have never allowed themselves to be annoyed by such slogans as adjusting the young to their environment or meeting the immediate needs of society
because they have sharply defined the purpose of their educational system and its purpose is to promote the intellectual development of the people. The reason for the strength of the utopian family and the utopian church and the utopian educational system is that each has its prescribed task. No utopian for example. Whatever I've been guilty of the proposition advanced to me the other day by an eminent bishop in California. Who said that education should be limited to the elite and that the that the mass of the people should receive such culture as they need from the family and the church. The utopians think that intellectual development is too important to be left to amateurs. And since they are devoted to democracy. They do not see how they can
maintain and improve it unless every citizen has a chance to become as wise as he can. The utopians are a sensible people. They know enough to know the children of the age of sex cannot and should not do the kind of work and school that fairground men should tackle utopians not all the physical and moral development are involved in Maori and intellectual development. Their educational system makes provision for the participation of educators in physical and moral development at the proper stages and the proper ways. But never in such ways as to confuse anybody about who has the responsibility at each stage for intellectual development and who are marital and physical growth. Utopians believe that education is a
conversation aimed at truth. Their object is to get everybody to take part in this conversation. They're there for a start their children off by teaching them the techniques of conversation. Those of you who have children may fail at this is a work of supererogation but the utopians believe that there is a great difference between chattering and can very sing. The first 10 years of the utopian educational system is devoted first of all to teaching reading writing and figuring out the cause they are aware of the axiom that subjects that cannot be understood without experience should not be taught to those who are without experience. They do not go out there and experience children with what are called the Social Studies. They want to face
the minds and touch to the imagination. But the kind of knowledge suitable to the years of children in the first 10 years of his education therefore in addition to the subjects I have already mentioned the young utopian studies history geography and the greatest literature of the world. It is not supposed that he will understand all the implications of history and literature but it is believed that he should be introduced to them in childhood and in such a way that he will want to continue to study them all his life. Since nobody can understand his own language or what our language is by speaking or studying his own every young master is a foreign language. And every young utopian studies science for this subject. The utopians regard is
indispensable to understanding the modern world and they believe that as a subject it does not require experience. It is one appropriate to children. In view of the celebrity eyed utopians have achieved in the world of art and music I need hardly add that all of them study these subjects. By the age of 16 therefore the young utopian. I studied very few disciplines but he has studied all rows appropriate to his time of life. The object has been to get him to go on studying them as long as he lives. The object has also been to fed him to wonder stand any new idea already new field that presents itself to him and the
great overruling object has been to prepare him to become a member of the Republic of learning and of the political Republic. Almost all the teaching in Utopia is conducted through discussion. The educational system is a paradigm of the conversation through which learning is advanced and throw which item ocracy works. At the age of 16. Earlier if he is ready for it the utopian passes into the college. Harry continues to study history geography literature science music and art but the emphasis shifts. From learning the techniques of communication to obtaining familiarity with the principal views of the world that men have developed on the
leading ideas that have animated mankind. The curriculum from the beginning of the elementary school through the college is completely prescribed whereas students. Utopians do not believe that any civilized man can omit any of the subjects that are included in the course of study and they do not doubt that the educational profession is better qualified to say what children should study than the children themselves. The utopians have heard of the American plan by which a certain number of courses whatever they are finally add up to a degree but the utopians are as I have said sensible people. The credit system has never been introduced among them.
This is one of the things that makes the country utopia. Somewhere between the ages of 18 and 20 or whenever he is ready. The Utopian presents himself for examination that cover the whole of his education up to that point. These examinations which are constructed by an outside board reflect what the educational profession of utopia. Thanks OG. I was a liberal education and education appropriate to a free man. If the student passes these examinations he is awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts utopians have never been confused about the award of this degree at this stage because a degree is never been
debased and our certificate of time served or credits accumulated or a license to enter a graduate school or a qualification for membership in the University Club. The Bachelor of Arts degree and Utopia has always stood for a liberal education and this is what the examinations at the end of the College of Utopia stand for till. After leaving the college. The young utopian has two courses open to him. He may either enter upon the task of earning his living in the justly famous free enterprise system of his country. Or you may if he is qualified proceed to the university. But it never occurs to any utopian that his education should stop
when he leaves college whether he goes into the university or not. I have said that one of the premises upon which the educational program of Utopia is constructed is that subjects that cannot be understood without experience. Should not be taught to the inexperienced. History and Literature or are therefore taught only by way of introduction in the schools and college of utopia. The social sciences do not appear as such at all. Yet the utopians recognize that history literature and such knowledge as a social sciences have gained must be understood by civilized men utopians also believe that a man must go on learning all his life that he can do so if he is a man and if he does not do so he will cease to be one. Therefore the
whole country is dotted with centers of education for adults young and old where the most important theoretical and practical questions are discussed. Some of these adult education groups again with the current issue of the utopian times and work backward to first principles. Some of these groups began with Homer o enjoys a considerable reputation in Utopia and work forward to the pressing problems of the day. The object of these groups is not to confer the social prestige or vocational advancement upon the members. It is to continue the intellectual develop the liberal education of the individual as utopian and demand. The centers of
adult education and Utopia are all residential. The people have learned that the educational consequences of evening classes scattered over a period of weeks well they're better than nothing. Do not compare with the results that can be achieved by having groups live together for a limited time and share in that continuous conversation about important subjects. Which to utopian is education. The whole industrial and agricultural life of the country. Revolves around the obligation that is fed by the whole community to spend some part of each year an organized study of this kind. No utopian would think of taking a vacation and the American sense of the word and the summer resorts and even the winter resorts of that country are really centers of adult education.
The organization of the University of utopia. I've already roughly described it as constituted of institutions of about 25 professors. Until hundred and fifty students each. These institutions are exclusively residential for the same reason that the centers of adult education and Utopia are residential specialized study and Utopia begins only in the university. The university is built on the principle that man home must be intensively trained in the specialties must not lose their liberal education or their ability to communicate with other men or their interest in an capacity to understand ideas in any field of learning.
Hazards to education
Philosophical diversity, part one
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-mg7fw45m).
Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, focuses on the hazards that philosophical diversity poses to education.
Series Description
Walgreen Lecture series on the present hazards to American education as seen and presented by Robert M. Hutchins. Each lecture discusses one particular problem.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
Speaker: Hutchins, Robert Maynard, 1899-1977
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-10-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:15
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Hazards to education; Philosophical diversity, part one,” 1955-04-17, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 26, 2024,
MLA: “Hazards to education; Philosophical diversity, part one.” 1955-04-17. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 26, 2024. <>.
APA: Hazards to education; Philosophical diversity, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from