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A critical analysis of Alfred North Whitehead's statements that "The essence of education is that it be religious" and "A religious education is an education which inculcates duty and reverence"


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Webber, E. M (1976) A critical analysis of Alfred North Whitehead's statements that "The essence of education is that it be religious" and "A religious education is an education which inculcates duty and reverence". Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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An investigation of the various interpretations given by Whitehead
to the concepts religious, education, duty, and reverence; and especially
of the problems which arise when they are taken in association, as in
the title-statements.
The philosophical implications of his views on religion (which
cannot be dissociated from his description of that which is religious),
and the bearing they have not only on education generally, but also
on religious education, is examined. Ancillary to this has been a brief
scrutiny of forms of knowledge, methods of learning, truth-claims, and
the nature of belief.
This has led to an examination of the nature and role both of
certainty and uncertainty; and, on the authority of Whitehead and others,
a claim has been made that the latter element has a legitimate place in
the activity or process of education.
Whitehead's dissatisfaction with the positivistic standpoint is
shown in his advocacy of a type of philosophy which was, for some long
time, foreign to most educational theorising; but which appears now to
be regaining vitality and support.
The concepts of purpose and teleology are referred to as being
necessarily integral to an education which is religious in essence.
Similarly, the concepts of subjectivity and objectivity, of the social
and the individual, are woven through the whole dissertation. Whitehead's
suggestion that conventional religion is losing its authority as it loses
its objectivity is examined, and it is suggested that his relativism
(which manifests itself as 'process') is seen both as contributing to
this, and perhaps as leading to a new understanding of the meaning of
In conclusion, reference is made to special problems which Whitehead's
point of view might provide for those who are most directly concerned in
the enterprise of education.

Item Type: Thesis (Research Master)
Keywords: Whitehead, Alfred North, 1861-1947, Religious education
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1976 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s)

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Ed.)--Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, 1977. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [1]-[4])

Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2015 23:29
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:56
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