The university as microcosm

Educational Philosophy and Theory 41 (5):553-574 (2009)

Byron Kaldis
National Technical University of Athens
This paper puts forward the model of 'microcosm-macrocosm' isomorphism encapsulated in certain philosophical views on the form of university education. The human being as a 'microcosm' should reflect internally the external 'macrocosm'. Higher Education is a socially instituted attempt to guide human beings into forming themselves as microcosms of the whole world in its diversity. By getting to know the surrounding world, they re-enact it intellectually. Such a re-enacting is a guiding theme in certain philosophies of education studied here. It is with the Neo-Humanist tradition culminating in Humboldt's reforms that an additional step was taken: the university should become itself the reflecting 'microcosm'. This role is nowadays taken up by unconventional LLE, though with far-reaching changes. The paper is divided into four interconnected Sections each one developing a specific manifestation of the micro-macro relationship. The main thesis is that: (I) contemporary schemes of never-ending higher education or of so-called 'transformative learning' and of 'universities-multiversities' have their intellectual underpinnings either in similarity or in direct contrast to specific predecessors. Inherent tensions found in these predecessors have left their mark on this micro-macrocosmic model to the extent that it is present in them; (II) the proposed analysis in terms of this model enhances significantly our in-depth understanding of some latent aspects in current trends in LLE and related innovative university schemes; at the same time this model helps us structure appropriately and without anachronisms our humanisticly-inspired critical response to them for abandoning the ideal of the 'wholeness' of the human person.
Keywords Bildung  Lifelong Education  micro‐macrocosm  Humboldt  university  humanism
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DOI 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2008.00431.x
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Knowledge in a Social World.Alvin I. Goldman - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.J. F. Lyotard - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1689 - Oxford University Press.
An Introduction to Plato's Republic.Julia Annas - 1981 - Oxford University Press.

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