Educating for Democracy: Paideia in an Age of Uncertainty

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The central conflicts of the world today are closely related to cultural, traditional, and religious differences between nations. As we move to a globalized world, these differences often become magnified, entrenched, and the cause of bloody conflict. Growing out of a conference of distinguished scholars from the MiddleEast, Europe, and the United States, this volume is a singular contribution to mutual understanding and cooperative efforts on behalf of peace. The term paideia, drawn from Greek philosophy, has to do with responsible education for citizenship as a necessary precondition for effective democracy. The problems discussed here are crucial, but not simple. How can we find shared ethical principles on which to build international consensus? How can religious tolerance make inroads in societies accustomed to restrictive fundamentalism? What might bring about de-dogmatization of education in the Middle East as a necessary condition for free and rational inquiry and the broader vistas required by democracy? All of these issues highlight the underlying question, "What is education really for? " Finally, the volume confronts the promises and perils of economic globalization. Noting that one third of the world's population lives in abject poverty, business has become a battlefield where ethics and trust are clearly at stake.

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About the Author:

Alan M. Olson is director of The Paideia Project, chairman of the Committee on International Cooperation (American Philosophical Association), and professor of the philosophy of religion at Boston University. David M. Steiner is associate professor of education and chairman of the Department of Administration and Policy Studies at the School of Education at Boston University. Irina S. Tuuli is associate director of The Paideia Project and former associate professor of philosophy at Moscow Technical University.

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Fundamentalist religion, identity politics, and post-modernism would seem to have driven us far from the Enlightenment preoccupation with integrative humanist paradigms of education of the kind the Greeks called Paideia, the Germans called Bildung, and the French called Formation. But as this penetrating collection shows, the aspiration to humanistic knowledge and liberal learning is challenged but not defeated by the post-modernity and its maladies. Indeed, as Olson, Steiner, Tuuli,and their thoughtful colleagues show, the striving for education and knowledge, whether in religion (the intersection with Islam is especially interesting), pedagogy, or economics, can be fortified without resorting to reactionary nostalgia for the ancients by a careful understanding of paideia. Don't let the anthology format fool you―this is an important book with a clear center of gravity that should be of value to scholars, teachers, and students alike.. (Benjamin R. Barber, University of Maryland)

Educating for Democracy: Paideia in an Age of Uncertainty is a breath of sorely needed fresh air. Situated in the ivory tower, philosophers must become pertinent to the current state of the world. No other profession manifests so explicitly the gap between theory and praxis, which threatens to make academia insignificant during transitional times. This book is a surprisingly successful attempt to bridge this divide by use of paideia, the calling of committed philosophers. Coming from several cultural contexts, both religious and secular, the contributors to this volume show―teach―the kind of critical work necessary for the politics of education and the education of and to politics. (Anat Biletzki, chair, department of philosophy, Tel Aviv University; chair of the board, B'Tselem, Israeli Information Center For Human Rights in the Occupied Territories)

Paideia: Anachronism or Necessity? is the question that runs as the principal theme throughout this volume. The answer is paideia as a possibility and a potential for democratic education. In an exciting effort to draw on an ancient idea in an historical moment facing new and unheard of problems, the authors explore the meaning of the classical Greek concept of paideia in the fields of philosophy, religion, education, and economics. Bringing together contributions from the United States and Russia, from the Middle East and Europe, this volume engages in an international conversation on some of the most pressing questions of our time. (Krzysztof Michalski, director, Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (Vienna and Boston))

Educating for Democracy marks an important effort by an international group of philosophers...to bring their disciplined insights and classical educational heritage together toward analysis of religious, political, and economic conflicts playing out on the world stage. (Teaching Theology & Religion)

This volume, due substantially to the leadership of Alan Olson, continues the work that led to the XXth World Congress of Philosophy, held in Boston in the summer of 1998, whose invited program appeared shortly thereafter in twelve volumes! This new volume contains papers delivered in two subsequent conferences that successfully continued the most welcome and admirable international cooperation of the Congress, on some of the same main themes. (Ernest Sosa, Brown University)

Fundamentalist religion, identity politics, and post-modernism would seem to have driven us far from the Enlightenment preoccupation with integrative humanist paradigms of education of the kind the Greeks called Paideia, the Germans called Bildung, and the French called Formation. But as this penetrating collection shows, the aspiration to humanistic knowledge and liberal learning is challenged but not defeated by the post-modernity and its maladies. Indeed, as Olson, Steiner, Tuuli, and their thoughtful colleagues show, the striving for education and knowledge, whether in religion (the intersection with Islam is especially interesting), pedagogy, or economics, can be fortified without resorting to reactionary nostalgia for the ancients by a careful understanding of paideia. Don't let the anthology format fool you―this is an important book with a clear center of gravity that should be of value to scholars, teachers, and students alike. (Benjamin R. Barber, University of Maryland)

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