Education for Personal Life: John MacMurray on Why Learning to be Human Requires Emotional Discipline

Journal of Philosophy of Education 48 (1):118-136 (2014)
In this article I discuss the philosophy of John MacMurray, and in particular, his little-examined writings on discipline and emotion education. It is argued that discipline is a vital element in the emotion education MacMurray thought central to learning to be human, because for him it takes concerted effort to overcome the human tendency toward egocentricity. It is maintained that MacMurray's philosophy of education is of contemporary significance for at least two reasons. On the one hand it suggests an alternative vision for humanistic education. While liberal educationists such as Oakeshott and Peters stressed that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding was the main way in which persons could develop their humanity MacMurray instead emphasised that persons can only learn to become human by pursuing other-centred relationships. On the other hand his philosophy can also reveal the limitations in much contemporary debate in emotion education which critics (such as Ecclestone and Clack) suggest increasingly aims at little more than helping pupils feel better about themselves. According to MacMurray a genuine emotion education can enlarge humanity by supporting persons to feel and act for the sake of others rather than think about themselves. Despite sympathy for MacMurray's account of the purposes of education it is nonetheless concluded that the pursuit of knowledge as an end in itself does not necessarily constitute a negative expression of human agency (as MacMurray asserts)—but rather that the disciplined pursuit of knowledge may also form part of any education concerned to enrich human life
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9752.12055
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Ethics and Education.R. S. Peters - 1966 - London: Allen & Unwin.
Democracy in Education.John Dewey - 2008 - In Alexandra Miletta & Maureen McCann Miletta (eds.), Classroom Conversations: A Collection of Classics for Parents and Teachers. The New Press.

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