Education And Democracy: The Meaning Of Alexander by Adam R. Nelson

By Adam R. Nelson

"Intellectual biography at its most sensible. Nelson has offered us with the full Meiklejohn, warts and all." --E. David Cronon, co-author of The collage of Wisconsin: A historical past. this is often the definitive biography of Alexander Meiklejohn, the most vital and debatable educators and civil libertarians of the 20 th century. A charismatic instructor and thinker with extrordinarily excessive expectancies for democratic self-government within the usa, Meiklejohn was once either cherished and reviled in the course of his lengthy existence. extraordinary and devoted, he may even be obdurate and conceited, and his ardour for his personal beliefs resulted in common clashes with trendy and strong critics. The son of reform-minded, working-class immigrants from Scotland, Meiklejohn rejected the spiritually agnostic and politically instrumentalist philosophies of his Progressive-Era contemporaries, a lot of whom, he argued, easily took democracy with no consideration. As dean of Brown college on the outset of the 20th century, he lamented the disintegration of the previous classical curriculum and puzzled the emerging impact of amoral technological know-how in glossy larger schooling. He served as president of Amherst collage in the course of the culturally turbulent years of worldwide warfare I, a director of the well-known Experimental university on the collage of Wisconsin throughout the overdue Twenties and early Thirties, and as a delegate to UNESCO after international battle II. An outspoken defender of the First modification throughout the McCarthy period, he used to be commemorated with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. Alexander Meiklejohn used to be a self-proclaimed idealist dwelling in an more and more pragmatic age, and his significant query is still crucial this day: How can schooling educate voters to be loose?

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69 A year later, in 1898, Brown faced off against Harvard in the first intercollegiate hockey game in the United States, and the Bears— led by Meiklejohn—beat the Crimson six goals to none. 72 In the fall of 1897, he accepted a position as assistant professor in the philosophy department at Brown. ”73 In this last course, Meiklejohn devoted an entire term to the first hundred pages of the Critique of Pure Reason, including the difficult “Deduction of the Categories,” which he considered the heart of Kant’s work.

44 Andrews, Delabarre, and Seth provided the model for Meiklejohn’s own eventual success as a teacher. All agreed that the chief purpose 17 providence, 1872–1911 of undergraduate education was not to accumulate discrete scientific facts but rather to cultivate intellectual values. ”45 Meiklejohn took as many philosophy classes as he could with Andrews, focusing especially on the study of ethics and epistemology as a way to sort out the “confusion” of his undergraduate course. As a senior, he enrolled in both “Advanced Theoretical Ethics” and “Mental Philosophy,” which covered logic, psychology, and metaphysics.

In order to rescue a knowledge of universal moral values from the realm of philosophical abstraction, Kant supplemented his theory of pure reason with a theory of practical reason. In his Critique of Practical Reason, published seven years after the Critique of Pure Reason, Kant located the source of transcendental moral understanding in the quality of reasonableness itself. Morality, Kant argued, meant nothing more or less than conformity to “practical” human nature, which was, by definition, reasonable.

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