By J. J. Chambliss
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Extra info for Educational Theory As Theory of Conduct: From Aristotle to Dewey
John Dewey: Empiricism and Humility in Conduct 125 12. Making Our Nature: A Necessity in Conduct 133 Notes 139 Bibliographic Note 165 Index 169 Page vii Preface This essay is in no sense an attempt to provide a comprehensive history of educational theory from Aristotle to Dewey. Its aim is a more modest one, to show the nature of an idea that has endured in that history. The idea that educational theory is a theory of conduct is one from which we cannot escape. Yet we neglect it all too often. We ignore it when we try to direct education into paths laid out by measures that quantify conduct, or when we use Graduate Record Examination scores as a device to determine who should be educated.
The nature of experience that is worked out in this tradition is an empirical matter, not a nature that can be known in advance of the actual experience. This is a way of saying that theories of education must be theories of conduct, rather than theories about conduct. Thus theories themselves must be shaped in conduct, not apart from it. Only by trying to make principles of conduct may human beings understand them. The present essay emphasizes the second tradition. Yet something of the first tradition enters into our account, for not all the writers we consider stand unequivocally in the second tradition.
Virtue-in-itself will come, if at all, by an activity that is akin to recollecting: this is not merely a mental affair, but a combined activity of mind and body. There is a kind of paradox in the conclusion Socrates reaches at the end of the Meno: "On our present reasoning, then, whoever has virtue gets it by divine dispensation. "49 Plato appears to be suggesting that discovering what virtue is is something that we should try first; and then we may ask how we get virtue. Yet this is only appearance; in actuality Plato shows us that it is in the activity of discovering virtue that we find out how to get virtue.