As educators and thoughtful human beings, we really should be subject-centered and thereby more relationally-minded in our teaching, living, and pursuit of long-term flourishing. That sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true and helpful. Under the influence of poet Rainer Maria Rilke, Parker Palmer explains in The Courage to Teach that subject-centered teaching is the best way to approach teaching and learning. Rilke and Palmer are just a few of the many thoughtful writers who compel me to assert that good subject-centered knowledge rightly guides better relationships.
In this short post, I bring a tentative conclusion to my segments on rational ways of knowing: Many of our best uses of reasoning recognize the limits of our reason.
In philosophy since Descartes, western civilization seems to have lost its ability to understand the value and nature of philosophical common sense. In our time, the motorcycle repairman, philosopher, author, scholar, and tinkerer Matthew Crawford can help us do some much-needed rethinking of our philosophies of knowledge, ethics, attention, and learning in the light of reality and in the pursuit of long-term flourishing.
In this post, I explore some student-learning applications of Thomas Aquinas’ approach to argumentation via his thoughtful questioning and charitable disputation method as modeled in The Summa Theologiae. (Also often referred to as part of “the scholastic method.”) Aquinas’ method of charitable disputation serves well as a way to coach students to more thoughtfully summarize, analyze, and argue knowledge claims. Modern argumentation approaches, such as the Toulmin model of argument, can also be integrated.
In this post, I argue that Thomas Aquinas and Star Trek’s Mr. Spock both model some very helpful patterns for thinking through knowledge about preparing for our upcoming school year.
In this brief post, I reflect on Thomas Aquinas’ comprehensive approach to synthesizing knowledge from disparate sources.
Even with many limitations of his 4th century BCE context, Aristotle can assist our pursuit of long-term flourishing (synonymous with his use of “eudaimonia” as the highest aim of life) through his methods of rationally deliberating topics of knowledge. For education and public life in our fractured republic, we need philosophical help from good thinkers and good methods in order to effectively pursue inclusive long-term flourishing.
At the heart of Plato’s philosophy is a wrestling with visions of true knowledge, especially in the tension between thoughtful individual inquiry versus superficial group-think. Despite his flaws, Plato can help us thoughtfully construct and consider different visions of learning and long-term flourishing in our time.
As I start my series on epistemology (or theory of knowing) for better learning and teaching, I want to emphasize an approach to rational knowing in relation to a very important ancient Greek thinker: Socrates. He believed that knowledge and virtue are inseparable, and therefore the search for knowledge is a search for virtue and vice versa. Socratically, teachers and students should strive to be virtuous in their pursuits of knowledge. What does virtue mean? How does one acquire virtue (and knowledge)? Why, those are just the sort of questions Socrates wants us to thoughtfully explore throughout our lives for long-term flourishing.
In this post, I discuss the neglected but important branch of philosophy known as epistemology or theory of knowledge. I also introduce my general plan for a series of postings about epistemology for better thinking in service to our learning, teaching, and ongoing pursuits of long-term flourishing.