Must Dewey and Kierkegaard's Inquiry for World Peace be Violent?

Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (5):521-533 (2011)
Abstract
Amongst the many aims of education, surely the pursuit of global peace must be one of the most significant. The mandate of UNESCO is to pursue world peace through education by primarily promoting collaboration. The sort of collaboration that UNESCO endorses involves democratic dialogue, where various persons from differing backgrounds can come together, listen, negotiate and discuss possible ways in which peace might be pursued. While this sort of democratic dialogue with its associated free intellectual inquiry is more readily acceptable for issues dealing with problems in the realm of physical nature, it is not so easily tolerated in the realm of ethics and values. Indeed inquiry into the realm of ethics by Kierkegaard has been described by Levinas to be a form of violence. Similarly John Dewey's work has been included in a list of the ten most harmful books by some conservatives in the United States because he promoted inquiry into morals and religion. Dewey argued against the assumption that there are two-realms—one physical and one moral. He and Kierkegaard both encouraged democratic inquiry into ethics, which is the sort of collaboration recognised by UNESCO as being necessary if we are to pursue world peace. Yet such investigations can be considered by some to be violent and harmful. It is argued here that pursuing inquiries into ethics and aims of education, while appearing to challenge the status quo, should not be construed as being violent but rather should be understood as democratic and educative
Keywords inquiry  violence  world peace  democracy  Dewey  Kierkegaard
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