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Contrasts in Education: II. Education and Philosophy

by Frederick J. E. Woodbridge - 1929

IN VIEW of what we human beings are, and in view of the natural necessity under which we live and labor, the cultivation of language, mathematics, and tools would seem to be the first duty of all organized and systematic attempts at education.1 There is no need of a theory or philosophy of education to support this duty. Its support lies in that constitution of things in consequence of which human life depends, not on the operation of natural forces, but on the discovery and use of these forces. Abolish such discovery and use, life would still exist, but it would not be human life with its institutions, its culture, its industry, its society, its art, and its religion. Indeed, when attentively considered, nature and human life are seen to be profoundly antithetical. They define an opposition which is the prolific cause of many philosophies. It is easy to say that human life is as natural as any other kind of life, since it is, with all its peculiarities, one of the kinds of life which nature has produced. It is, consequently, as natural for a man to be a man as it is for an ape to be an ape or a star to be a star. One need not quarrel with the comparison. Nor need one quarrel with the contention that there has been in cosmic history a movement from stars to apes and from apes to men. All this may be said to be natural enough and so natural that nature, instead of being antithetical to human life, exhibits in human life an example of her resourcefulness. We are, however, brought face to face with considerations of a totally different character when we reflect on what man, as an example of nature's resourcefulness, does. What he does is to make nature an object of inquiry and thereby turn her into the servant of his purposes. He is not content to take nature as he finds her. He insists on making her over. And he justifies doing this by reasons drawn from his own imagination. He makes some sort of a philosophy of life. That is why nature and human life are antithetical.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 31 Number 2, 1929, p. 121-136
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 7043, Date Accessed: 9/26/2020 1:22:34 AM

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  • Frederick Woodbridge

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