Il'enkov on education

Studies in East European Thought 57 (3-4):261 - 275 (2005)
Abstract
The philosophy of education is among the least celebrated sub-disciplines of Anglo-American philosophy. Its neglect is hard to reconcile, however, with the fact that human beings owe their distinctive psychological powers to cumulative cultural evolution, the process in which each generation inherits the collective cognitive achievements of previous generations through cultural, rather than biological, transmission. This paper examines the work of Eval’d Il’enkov, who, unlike his Anglo-American counterparts, maintains that education, broadly understood, is central to issues in epistemology and philosophy of mind. I expound Il’enkov’s position and defend it from five objections: (1) that Il’enkov treats education as a vehicle of social engineering; (2) that he is unduly preoccupied with controlling human development; (3) that he implausibly portrays the mind as a tabula rasa; (4) that his position is utopian; and (5) that it is technocratic. Defending Il’enkov illuminates a variety of issues about the objectives and ideals of education, formal and informal. I conclude that Il’enkov’s ideas, if complemented by those of other thinkers, Russian and Western, can help rejuvenate philosophy of education and reinstate the field at the centre of philosophical inquiry
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