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Chapter 28 - On education

from PARERGA AND PARALIPOMENA, VOLUME 2

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2015

Adrian Del Caro
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee
Christopher Janaway
Affiliation:
University of Southampton
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Summary

§372

As a result of the nature of our intellect concepts should arise through abstraction from intuitions, thus the latter should exist earlier than the former. Now when this course is actually taken, as in the case of someone whose only teacher and textbook is experience, then a person knows quite well which are the intuitions that belong to each of his concepts and have those concepts as their representatives; he knows both of them exactly and accordingly deals correctly with everything that comes before him. We can call this path natural education.

Conversely in artificial education the mind is stuffed with concepts by means of telling, teaching and reading before an even remotely extended acquaintance with the intuitive world exists. Experience is now supposed to fill in the intuitions to all those concepts, but until such time they will be wrongly applied and accordingly things and people will be wrongly judged, wrongly seen and wrongly treated. So it happens that education makes for crooked minds, and this is why in our youth, after much learning and reading, we enter the world partly naïvely and partly eccentrically, and our behaviour in it is alternatingly anxious and rash, because our head is full of concepts that we are trying hard to apply but are almost always wrongly used. This is the result of that confusion of grounds and consequence through which, completely contrary to the natural developmental course of our mind, we first obtain concepts and last intuitions, since our instructors instead of developing a boy's independent capacity for knowing, judging and thinking, are merely concerned with stuffing his head full of the ready-made thoughts of others. Afterwards long experience has to correct all those judgements that arose through the wrong application of concepts. Seldom does this succeed entirely. This is why so few scholars have that healthy common sense which is so frequently found in the completely uneducated.

§373

Based on the foregoing the main point of education would be that an acquaintance with the world, whose obtaining we could describe as the goal of all education, should begin from the proper end. But as demonstrated above, this will be based mainly on how in every matter intuition precedes the concept, moreover the narrower concept precedes the broader, and thus the whole instruction takes places in the order in which the concepts of things presuppose one another.

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Chapter
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Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Short Philosophical Essays
, pp. 562 - 567
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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