Monday, August 19, 2013

Education and the Handing Down Philosophy

   Education, even when it is autodidactic, does not merely make use of the subjective, but requires something from outside (objective).  Just as little could education involve only something external, but whatever comes from outside must have a place in the student already prepared for it.  Just as we pass on a torch in a race, we teach only because we suppose that others are able to take it up again in the same way.  We also recognize that when we pass the torch we are no longer entirely responsible for what is done with it, and that the intention we held for the torch will be fulfilled; this makes education all the more important, particularly when it concerns our ultimate fulfillment.  
   We don't pass on teaching unless it is needful for our ends and for those of the students.  The needfulness of the teaching is part of what recognizes that it has a place in the student, even if the student does not recognize this place.  Philosophy is concerned with the needfulness (finitude, lack, synthesis character) in our being and an education in philosophy results in the opening up of this needfulness.  There are many other needs that manifest themselves first and more clearly.  Our bodies require constant care, but these problems can be faced, and even resolved so that we can transform our original anxiety over them.  
   Anxiety over plumbing does not arise for me save for when I leave these modern conveniences behind, and the anxiety is not in the face of not knowing what to do, but in my solution no longer being available.  Plumbing is a problem that has been solved.  It can be refined, and it can still become a concern, but the concerns that arise for us now are in light of the solution.  The anxiety we have over the lack of plumbing was not even possible prior to plumbing.  Such solutions to anxieties that allow new anxieties to crop up are not proper to philosophy, and the education in philosophy does not seek to develop these, but to continue to guide everyone back to the same needfulness of the human being which are not open to solution by man.
   Education in philosophy should try to open the learner up to their needfulness, and with an interest to the potentiality of having a true measure of their destiny and potential fulfillment - even if such fulfillment is beyond our power.  Our needfulness is of such a depth that it leads to the despairing wisdom of Silenus, that the best for man is to never have been born; it also leads to the pursuit of salvation in Christianity.  Philosophy itself does not give its own answer to this need without becoming something else (like theology); philosophy merely opens this need up again and again, and prepares the philosopher to face the great demands that come with being human.  (Receiving a degree in philosophy currently involves a study of the history of philosophers - many of whom have opened up the depths of human needfulness - and with some technical procedures in argumentation.  This is, perhaps, the most we can expect of philosophy treated as a discipline.)
   A reason why so many suggest that philosophy does not advance is in reference to the attempt of philosophy continually to uncover the same problems.  However, the material written by philosophers can advance us in its efficacy in assisting in that uncovering, and making it more penetrating.  To me, Kant was a greater help then Plato in first uncovering the problem of my needfulness, and after Kant I have been able to appreciate Plato in ways where his meaning stands out and further penetrates into these problems.  Penetrating further into the problem of my needfulness is why I study the history of philosophy, not to see who had the right or wrong answer; this latter practice degrades philosophy, and so far as it blocks the awakening of our own needfulness it is harmful to our humanity.

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