This course considers the present crisis in education from a philosophical standpoint and in light of the crisis of the humanities generally. It takes as its point of departure a comparison of contemporary ideals of education with the historical roots of education.The Greek concept of paideia and the German concept of Bildung are exemplary in this regard, being both more comprehensive and more complex than the English term "education". Introduced into the German language by the philosopher and mystic Meister Eckhart, the idea of Bildung traces its roots to the Judaeo-Christian belief that human beings are created in God's image, as Bild or image of the divine Urbild or archetype. The same idea is prefigured in the concept of "becoming like God", homoiosis theoi in Plato, Platonism, and Neoplatonism. The tension between type and archetype, like the tension between nature and the perfection of nature, and between the human being as part of the common order of nature and the human being as part of the intellectual order, is a determining factor in the history of education and culture.Renaissance ideals of individuality and humanism based on study of the Classics transform the religious ideal of likeness to God into a secular and civic ideal of education. The Enlightenment vision of the practical, moral and social education of the free and rational individual continues this development, while Idealist and Romantic ideals strive to reinstate harmonious formation of the mind and heart of the self-conscious subject.
Contemporary attempts to reduce educational outcomes to measurable competencies for the purpose of increased economic competitiveness and maximization of "human capital"are opposed to the broadly humanistic ideals of the Enlightenment, Renaissance, and the earlier ideals of Bildung and paideia. The tendency of government policy to concentrate funding in the natural sciences, medicine and technology while reducing funding for the humanities – and attempting to mold study and research in the humanities into something more like natural sciences, creates a dangerous imbalance in the area of education and training, skewing and undermining the original aim of the humanities, and of education itself. Emphasis on marketability of skills derails central aspects of education like cultivation of aesthetic and artistic ability and imagination, of metaphorical, symbolic and analogical thinking,mand the study of cultural heritage, and so undermines its own goal of promoting innovativeness and creativity for the sake of increased economiccompetitiveness.
In this context, the question arises as to whether and to what extent historical concepts and educational ideals like that of ‘Bildung’ are indeed opposed to contemporary concepts of education, or whether some aspects of their interpretation may have contributed to the repressive tendencies which have become apparent in the history of education. For this reason, analysis of historical approaches of ‘Bildung’ and education must also come to grips with the roots of today’s crisis of education in the history of philosophy.
Participants are invited to contribute a paper or presentation on topics relevant, but not necessarily limited to these questions, and to this year’s focus on the historical development of the concept of education and philosophical models of education, as suggested by the following thematic clusters:
• philosophical models of education from Ancient times to the modern period
• concepts of human nature and the perfection of human nature from Ancient times to the modern period
• education and the arts, from Ancient times to the modern period
Organizational assistent: Steffen Stolzenberger