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Religion and morality in the philosopy of education : a dissertation on the positivism of D.J. O'Connor's "Introduction to the philosophy of education" with special reference to the final chapter


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Clarke, D. B 1970 , 'Religion and morality in the philosopy of education : a dissertation on the positivism of D.J. O'Connor's "Introduction to the philosophy of education" with special reference to the final chapter', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This essay is basically an analysis of the
last chapter of Professor D.J. O'Connor's book
An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education.
It is generally critical of that book's positivist
stance and examines three matters in particular:
the Verification Principle, the possibility of
Metaphysics, and the nature of Ethical Judgements
as O'Connor deals with them.
The Introduction draws attention to the fact
that the book accepts the viewpoint of contemporary
philosophical analysis. It points out that the
author is anti-speculative and anti-metaphysical,
and that nonetheless he embraces an extreme
empiricist position with rationalist writing. It
draws attention to the influence the book seems to
have had upon student teachers despite its sweeping
generalizations. It recognises the value of
linguistic analysis but questions whether a thorough
philosophical study of the matters raised in the book
would lead to the conclusions drawn by Professor
O'Connor. Chapter I The Verification Principle
emphasizes the difficulties which A.J. Ayer's thesis
met and which the author seems not wholly to recognise.
Not only is the formulation of the principle open to
question but its verification is impossible if we are
to accept it in logical positivist terms. Modern
views of language mice it very difficult to apply simple
dichotomies. A criticism follows of O'Connor's
use of the word "experience" and his implied definition
of "knowledge". It is argued that his conception of "knowledge" and
his conception of "theory" are both ill-founded.
Three theories are then referred to as
respectable theories which would be rejected out of
hand by O'Connor's methods: first, Chomsky's theory of
language acquisition, secondly, Hick's eschatological
approach to the verification of faith, and thirdly
Boyce Gibson's contention that verification is a
"gradually widening conviction". Finally there is a
discussion of the phenomenon of comprehension.
In the 2nd Chapter "Is Metaphysics meaningful?”
there is a critical analysis of the way in which
O'Connor deals with Castle and Maritain, and of the
way he misinterprets the three "basic" questions. It
is suggested that there is need to distinguish between
the contemplation of one single object and the
contemplation of the world taken as a whole. The
concept of falsification is discussed in relation to
faith. It is further pointed out that we cannot
explain the origin of an ordered cosmos as a whole in
terms of a prior orderliness for that would be part of
the cosmos we are trying to explain. It is argued
that O'Connor's case against metaphysics is itself
metaphysical. In the 3rd Chapter "Ethical Judgements" it is
recognised that educational judgements have an ethical
content. The positivist argues that value judgements
are relative and emotive. This chapter examines the
possibility of moral judgements being true or false,
and the existence of criteria for such judgements.
The Conclusion makes a brief analysis of the
current climate in education and argues that there is a place for a Christian Philosophy of Education.
I am grateful to the Archbishop of Melbourne
who provoked me into beginning this small study of the
relationship between faith and knowledge, to Professor
Selby Smith who encouraged me, and above all to John
Radvansky who reintroduced me to the joys of being a
student, and without whose inspiration I would not have
embarked on a journey of which this essay is a modest

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Clarke, D. B
Keywords: O'Connor, D.J. (Daniel John), 1914-, Education
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1970? 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
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Additional Information:

Spine title. Thesis (M.Ed.)--Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, [197-?]. Includes bibliographical references (leaves [1]-7)

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