(BEING CONTINUED FROM 12/10/17)
Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Philosophy of Education
Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education. .. We are born weak, we need strength; we are born totally unprovided, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgement. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given us by education. (Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile)
I will say little of the importance of a good education; nor will I stop to prove that the current one is bad. Countless others have done so before me, and I do not like to fill a book with things everybody knows. I will note that for the longest time there has been nothing but a cry against the established practice without anyone taking it upon himself to propose a better one. The literature and the learning of our age tend much more to destruction than to edification. (Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile)
Michel de Montaigne, Philosophy Quotes on Education
I would like to suggest that our minds are swamped by too much study and by too much matter just as plants are swamped by too much water or lamps by too much oil; that our minds, held fast and encumbered by so many diverse preoccupations, may well lose the means of struggling free, remaining bowed and bent under the load; except that it is quite otherwise: the more our souls are filled, the more they expand; examples drawn from far-off times show, on the contrary, that great soldiers ad statesmen were also great scholars. (de Montaigne)
I think it better to say that the evil arises from their tackling the sciences in the wrong manner and that, from the way we have been taught, it is no wonder that neither master nor pupils become more able, even though they do know more. In truth the care and fees of our parents aim only at furnishing our heads with knowledge: nobody talks about judgement or virtue. When someone passes by, try exclaiming, ‘Oh, what a learned man!’ Then, when another does, ‘Oh, what a good man!’ Our people will not fail to turn their gaze respectfully towards the first. There ought to be a third man crying, ‘Oh, what blockheads!’ (de Montaigne)
We readily inquire, ‘Does he know Greek or Latin?’ ‘Can he write poetry and prose?’ But what matters most is what we put last: ‘Has he become better and wiser?’ We ought to find out not who understands most but who understands best. We work merely to fill the memory, leaving the understanding and the sense of right and wrong empty. Just as birds sometimes go in search of grain, carrying it in their beaks without tasting it to stuff it down the beaks of their young, so too do our schoolmasters go foraging for learning in their books and merely lodge it on the tip of their lips, only to spew it out and scatter it on the wind. (de Montaigne)
Their pupils and their little charges are not nourished and fed by what they learn: the learning is passed from hand to hand with only one end in view: to show it off, to put into our accounts to entertain others with it, as though it were merely counters, useful for totting up and producing statements, but having no other use or currency. ‘Apud alios loqui didicerunt, non ipsi secum’ [They have learned how to talk with others, not with themselves] (de Montaigne)
Whenever I ask a certain acquaintance of mine to tell me what he knows about anything, he wants to show me a book: he would not venture to tell me that he has scabs on his arse without studying his lexicon to find out the meaning of scab and arse.
All we do is to look after the opinions and learning of others: we ought to make them our own. We closely resemble a man who, needing a fire, goes next door to get a light, finds a great big blaze there and stays to warm himself, forgetting to take a brand back home. What use is it to us to have a belly full of meat if we do not digest it, if we do not transmute it into ourselves, if it does not make us grow in size and strength? (de Montaigne)
If our souls do not move with a better motion and if we do not have a healthier judgement, then I would just as soon that our pupil should spend his time playing tennis: at least his body would become more agile. But just look at him after he has spent some fifteen or sixteen years studying: nothing could be more unsuited for employment. The only improvement you can see is that his Latin and Greek have made him more conceited and more arrogant than when he left home. He ought to have brought back a fuller soul: he brings back a swollen one; instead of making it weightier he has merely blown wind into it. (de Montaigne)
And I loathe people who find it harder to put up with a gown askew than with a soul askew and who judge a man by his bow, his bearing and his boots. (de Montaigne)
Learning is a good medicine: but no medicine is powerful enough to preserve itself from taint and corruption independently of defects in the jar that it is kept in. One man sees clearly but does not see straight: consequently he sees what is good but fails to follow it; he sees knowledge and does not use it. (de Montaigne)
.. since it was true that study, even when done properly, can only teach us what wisdom, right conduct and determination consist in, they wanted to put their children directly in touch with actual cases, teaching them not by hearsay but by actively assaying them, vigorously molding and forming them not merely by word and precept but chiefly by deeds and examples, so that wisdom should not be something which the soul knows but the soul’s very essence and temperament, not something acquired but a natural property. (de Montaigne)
But in truth I know nothing about education except this: that the greatest and the most important difficulty known to human learning seems to lie in that area which treats how to bring up children and how to educate them. (de Montaigne)
Socrates and then Archesilaus used to make their pupils speak first; they spoke afterwards. ‘Obest plerumque iss discere volunt authoritas eorum qui docent.’ [For those who want to learn, the obstacle can often be the authority of those who teach] (de Montaigne)
Those who follow our French practice and undertake to act as schoolmaster for several minds diverse in kind and capacity, using the same teaching and the same degree of guidance for them all, not surprisingly can scarcely find in a whole tribe of children more than one or two who bear fruit from their education.
Let the tutor not merely require a verbal account of what the boy has been taught but the meaning and substance of it: let him judge how the boy has profited from it not from the evidence of his memory but from that of his life. Let him take what the boy has just learned and make him show him dozens of different aspects of it and then apply it to just as many different subjects, in order to find out whether he has really grasped it and made it part of himself, judging the boy’s progress by what Plato taught about education. Spewing food up exactly as you have swallows it is evidence of a failure to digest and assimilate it; the stomach has not done its job if, during concoction, it fails to change the substance and the form of what it is given. (de Montaigne)
The profit we possess after study is to have become better and wiser. (de Montaigne)
Nor is it enough to toughen up his soul; you must also toughen up his muscles. (de Montaigne)
Teach him a certain refinement in sorting out and selecting his arguments, with an affection for relevance and so for brevity. Above all let him be taught to throw down his arms and surrender to truth as soon as he perceives it, whether the truth is born at his rival’s doing or within himself from some change in his ideas. (de Montaigne)
As for our pupils talk, let his virtue and his sense of right and wrong shine through it and have no guide but reason. Make him understand that confessing an error which he discovers in his own argument even when he alone has noticed it is an act of justice and integrity, which are the main qualities he pursues; stubbornness and rancour are vulgar qualities, visible in common souls whereas to think again, to change one’s mind and to give up a bad case on the heat of the argument are rare qualities showing strength and wisdom. (de Montaigne)
In his commerce with men I mean him to include- and that principally- those who live only in the memory of books. By means of history he will frequent those great souls of former years. If you want it to be so, history can be a waste of time; it can also be, if you want it to be so, a study bearing fruit beyond price. (de Montaigne)
The first lessons with which we should irrigate his mind should be those which teach him to know himself, and to know how to die … and to live. (de Montaigne)
Since philosophy is the art which teaches us how to live, and since children need to learn it as much as we do at other ages, why do we not instruct them in it? (de Montaigne)
Any time and any place can be used to study: his room, a garden, is table, his bed; when alone or in company; morning and evening. His chief study will be Philosophy, that Former of good judgement and character who is privileged to be concerned with everything.
For among other things he had been counseled to bring me to love knowledge and duty by my own choice, without forcing my will, and to educate my soul entirely through gentleness and freedom. (de Montaigne)
Learning must not only lodge with us: we must marry her. (de Montaigne)
Educational Quotes by Famous Philosophers
Quotations from Confucius, Aristotle, Euripides, Seneca, Cicero, Horace, William James, Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, John Fowles, George Bernard Shaw
Study the past if you would define the future.
I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.
Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous. (Confucius, Analects)
Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these gave only life, those the art of living well. (Aristotle, In Education)
The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living from the dead. (Aristotle, In Education)
All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. (Aristotle)
Learned we may be with another man’s learning: we can only be wise with wisdom of our own:
[I hate a sage who is not wise for himself] (Euripides)
What use is knowledge if there is no understanding? (Stobaeus)
‘non vitae sed scholae discimus’. [We are taught for the schoolroom not for life] (Seneca)
Now we are not merely to stick knowledge on to the soul: we must incorporate it into her; the soul should not be sprinkled with knowledge but steeped in it. (Seneca)
And if knowledge does not change her and make her imperfect state better then it is preferable just to leave it alone. Knowledge is a dangerous sword; in a weak hand which does not know how to wield it it gets in its master’s way and wounds him, ‘ut fuerit melius non didicisse’ [so that it would have been better not to have studied at all] (de Montaigne quoting Cicero)
She (philosophy) is equally helpful to the rich and poor: neglect her, and she equally harms the young and old. (Horace)
‘As a man who knows how to make his education into a rule of life not a means of showing off; who can control himself and obey his own principles.’ The true mirror of our discourse is the course of our lives. (de Montaigne quoting Cicero)
THE TEACHER AS A NECESSARY EVIL. Let us have as few people as possible between the productive minds and the hungry and recipient minds! The middlemen almost unconsciously adulterate the food which they supply. It is because of teachers that so little is learned, and that so badly. (Nietzsche, 1880)
What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult. (Sigmund Freud)
To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralysed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it. (Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy)
To begin with our knowledge grows in spots. ..What you first gain, … is probably a small amount of new information, a few new definitions, or distinctions, or points of view. But while these special ideas are being added, the rest of your knowledge stands still, and only gradually will you line up your previous opinions with the novelties I am trying to instill, and to modify to some slight degree their mass. ..Your mind in such processes is strained, and sometimes painfully so, between its older beliefs and the novelties which experience brings along. (William James, Pragmatism)
Chess permits freedom of permutations within a framework of set rules and prescribed movements. Because a chess player cannot move absolutely as he likes, either in terms of the rules or in terms of the exigencies of the particular game, has he no freedom of move? The separate games of chess I play with existence has different rules from your and every other game; the only similarity is that each of our games always has rules. The gifts, inherited and acquired, that are special to me are the rules of the game; and the situation I am in at any given moment is the situation of the game. My freedom is the choice of action and the power of enactment I have within the rules and situation of the game. (Fowles, 1964. The Aristos)
Our present educational systems are all paramilitary. Their aim is to produce servants or soldiers who obey without question and who accepts their training as the best possible training. Those who are most successful in the state are those who have the most interest in prolonging the state as it is; they are also those who have the most say in the educational system, and in particular by ensuring that the educational product they want is the most highly rewarded. (Fowles, 1964. The Aristos)
Every serious student of the subject knows that the stability of a civilisation depends finally on the wisdom with which it distributes its wealth and allots its burdens of labour, and on the veracity of the instruction it provides for its children. We do not distribute the wealth at all: we throw it into the streets to be scrambled for by the strongest and the greediest who will stoop to such scrambling, after handing the lion’s share to the professional robbers politely called owners. We cram our children with lies, and punish anyone who tries to enlighten them. Our remedies for the consequences of our folly are tariffs, inflation, wars, vivisections and inoculations – vengeance, violences, black magic. (George Bernard Shaw)
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
“When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence: Time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter. … Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended. In this way the concept ’empty space’ loses its meaning. … The particle can only appear as a limited region in space in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. …
The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life. … We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided. …
Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive!” (Albert Einstein)
Our world is in great trouble due to human behaviour founded on myths and customs that are causing the destruction of Nature and climate change. We can now deduce the most simple science theory of reality – the wave structure of matter in space. By understanding how we and everything around us are interconnected in Space we can then deduce solutions to the fundamental problems of human knowledge in physics, philosophy, metaphysics, theology, education, health, evolution and ecology, politics and society.
This is the profound new way of thinking that Einstein realised, that we exist as spatially extended structures of the universe – the discrete and separate body an illusion. This simply confirms the intuitions of the ancient philosophers and mystics.
Given the current censorship in physics / philosophy of science journals (based on the standard model of particle physics / big bang cosmology) the internet is the best hope for getting new knowledge known to the world. But that depends on you, the people who care about science and society, realise the importance of truth and reality.
(to be continued)