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The Relevance Problem in Philosophy of Education (Ph.D. Dissertation abstracted in DISSERTATION ABSTRACTS)


Kenneth R. Conklin, "The Relevance Problem in Philosophy of Education," Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, Urbana, May, 1967, 436 pages. Abstracted in DISSERTATION ABSTRACTS, Section A, Vol. 28, No. 8, Feb.,1968, pp. 3065A - 3066A.



(Order No. 68-1726)
Kenneth Robert Conklin, Ph.D.
University of Illinois, 1967

What is the nature of the relationship between philosophy and education? What are the rules for making legitimate connections between the two? Does a given philosophical theory have consequences as prescriptions for education? Does a given educational theory or practice have philosophical presuppositions? If so, what are the correct ways of determining them? Can the same position in education be supported by conflicting philosophies? Can the same philosophy be used to generate conflicting prescriptions for education? Can philosophical theory adequately guide educational practice when action must be taken to deal with a novel problem whose urgency or complexity leaves insufficient time for adequate reflection? Can philosophical theory guide the unforeseen moment-to-moment activities of the educational practitioner (teacher, administrator) even though no conscious thought is given to philosophy? By what mechanisms, if any, does theoretical training affect practical conduct? All these questions are elaborations of a single question: What are the properties of relevance between philosophy and education?

Every philosophy is based on one of two polar theories of relevance. According to the "structure theory," relevance is intrinsic, exists a priori, and is discovered. According to the "game theory," relevance is created by human action and stipulated by convention. This dispute over the nature of relevance is reflected in every type of relevance: logical, causal, correlational, aesthetic, teleological. It is impossible to determine what is relevant to the defense or criticism of any theory, including a theory of relevance, except by intuitive discovery or arbitrary stipulation; thus, the problem of relevance is a fundamental problem.

The philosophy of education involves studying and solving the problems of education by using philosophical concepts and methods. The relations between philosophy and education are different in various stages of problem-solving. The first stage is to locate a problem in the network of problems and data confronting the investigator: here, four types of educational problems are identified, and their interrelationships discussed.

Next, the problem must be studied and alternative hypotheses proposed for solving it: empirical, analytic, and normative methods are studied as used in the science of education and the philosophy of education. One must then weigh all factors to decide what should be done; the decision must be carried out, and all steps must be re-evaluated in view of the consequences of action: the discipline "education" is studied as the record of previous investigations, decisions, actions, consequences, and re-evaluations. The fragmentation of problem-solving into stages does not occur when action must be taken as soon as a problem is noticed or when a problem is dealt with so skillfully as not to be noticed at all.

Logic is the study of relations among statements. Accordingly, the logical relevance between philosophy and education is the joining of statements in philosophy to statements in education. Prescriptions for education may be deduced from philosophic systems, and educational policies or actions may

[end page 3065A / Begin page 3066A]

be linked to philosophic presuppositions. Although a computerized axiomatic approach does not seem possible, chains of syllogisms are feasible links. Philosophic statements are also used as models, metaphors, operational definitions, and slogans for educational programs.

Non-logical relevance between philosophy and education is important: philosophic statements and educational actions are correlated as verbalizations and manifestations of an individual's personality dispositions or of the culture's ethos. Philosophic purposes are fulfilled by educational actions which cohere with them in aesthetic gestalten.

Mystical intuitionism synthesizes the polar theories of relevance; it also synthesizes and accounts for the logical and non-logical properties of relevance between philosophy and education. Polanyi's theory of tacit knowing, Broudy's theory of the uses of knowledge, and Zen epistemology help formulate the synthesis.

Microfilm $5.65; Xerography $20.05. 444 pages.
** Note by Ken Conklin: Those were the prices in 1966. Probably not today.

[end of abstract]


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