pragmatism

I am an admirer of pragmatism in the tradition of Dewey, who believed that education was a social undertaking, with social consequences, and that curricula are best when they are plastic: Not a set of bullet points from a faculty meeting, or a Congressional hearing, but a dynamic body of ideas which is both subject and ground of student work. There is much to like about an approach that begins with an admission of its own contingency, and then actively recruits students as subject-matter experts.

I admire, too, the neo-Pragmatism of Richard Rorty, who rejected the absolutes of Idealism, preferring a philosophy that was not interested in Truth so much as Solidarity. Rorty argued against the Classical notion of “Knowledge” as the object of education, as it continued the Attic mania for achieving “a place beyond inquiry.” As I read him, Rorty would prefer that we abandon the exclusive pursuit of Knowledge, and embrace instead “the notion of Bildung (education, self-formation).”