Every person has a philosophy even though he does not realize this. This is more so when we conceive philosophy in a general sense as a person's "sum of his fundamental beliefs and convictions." Moreover, teachers and students implicitly ask philosophical questions such as, "Why am I teaching? What is teaching at its best? And student asks, "Why am I studying this subject? What am I going to school for anyway?" On the other side of the coin, people have some ideas concerning physical objects, man, the meaning of life, nature, death, God, right and wrong. Of course, these ideas are acquired in varied ways -through family friends, individuals and groups or they might be as a result of some thinking, conventions or emotional bias. This represents just a popular man-on-the-street view of philosophy that is vague and blurred.

Meaning of Philosophy

The word philosophy is derived from the Greek words philia (Loving) and sophia (Wisdom) and means" the love of wisdom". This is the most popular Grecian conception of philosophy, but there are conglomerate definitions of philosophy that seem more supplementary rather than contradictory.

Philosophy is a personal attitude to life and the universe. When a person goes through some unusual experience, we often inquire, "How does he take it?" Or we often declare, "He takes it philosophically". The mature philosophical attitude is the searching and critical attitude, it is the open- minded, tolerant attitude expressed in the willingness to look at all sides of an issue. It does not shrink from facing the difficult and unresolved problems of life.

Philosophy is a method of reflective thinking and reasoned inquiry. It involves the attempt to think through one's problems and to face all the facts involved.

Philosophy is an attempt to gain a view of the whole world. It seeks to combine the conclusions of the various sciences and long human experience into some kind of consistent worldview.

Philosophy is the logical analysis of language and the clarification of the meaning of words and concepts.

Philosophy is the study of knowledge, reason, and reality.

Modes of Philosophy

Speculative Philosophy: Speculative philosophy is a way of thinking systematically about everything that exists. The human mind wishes to see things as a whole. It wishes to understand how all the different things that have been discovered together form some sort of meaningful totality. Speculative philosophy is a search for order and wholeness, applied not to particular items or experiences but to all knowledge and all experience.

Prescriptive Philosophy: Prescriptive philosophy seeks to establish standards for assessing values, judging conduct and appraising art. It examines what we mean by good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly. The prescriptive philosopher seeks to discover and to recommend principles for deciding what actions and qualities are most worth- while and why they should be so.

Analytic Philosophy: Analytic philosophy focuses on words and meanings. The analytic philosopher examines such notions as 'course', 'mind', 'academic freedom', 'equality of opportunity' etc., in order to assess the different meanings they carry in different contexts. Analytic philosophy tends to be skeptical, continuous and disinclined to build systems of thought.

Philosophy of Education is the application of the knowledge of philosophy to the solution of educational problems, concepts and theories. It examines, for example, concepts as equality, teaching, autonomy, freedom, morality etc., and considers their relevance to educational practice. It examines the role of aims in education as well as schools of philosophy and how they view education. Educational philosophy seeks to comprehend education in its entirety, interpreting it by means of general concepts that will guide our choice of educational ends and policies.

Educational philosophy is speculative when it seeks to establish theories of the nature of man, society and the world. Its speculative aspect on the one hand, deals with the search for values, knowledge and realities while the prescriptive aspect on the other hand is the effort towards getting the desired goals and recommending same to solve the current problems of education. Educational philosophy is analytic when it clarifies both speculative and prescriptive statements.

The Relevance of Philosophy of Education

As teachers, you might face numerous posers from your students. They may declare, 'Sir, this course is too argumentative, it is nothing short of mudslinging among scholars'. Of course, it may sound tautological, monotonous etc., to many among learners but its relevance cannot be over emphasized.

1.      It encourages critical examination of issues and justification for actions.

2.    It equips teachers with the ideas required for educational reforms and considers those changes to be based on the analysis of current practices in education in line with the values of the society.

3.    Educational philosophy tends to provide an insight of what education is and the role education should perform at the various stages of growth and for what category of learners.

4.      It gives more weight to the validity or soundness of arguments than to the authority of the person arguing a case, thereby disregarding prejudice and personal interests.

5.    It has a humbling effect, in other words, it compels one to keep an open mind on evidence/findings that may render ones previous opinion less valuable.

6.      It puts forth the various schools of thought about education as a discipline to develop and inculcate knowledge, skills and ability through training in humans for welfare of the individual and the society.

7.      it gives the teacher a deeper understanding of the various hypotheses put forward by the classical and modern schools of thought in order to develop the best approaches to education.

 Philosophy as a Rational Activity

Reasoning involves many things. It involves the use of deductive and inductive methods, clarity in the use of language, and regard to evidence. Deductive or inductive reasoning involves arranging certain kinds of statements in such a way that we can infer conclusions from them.

Deductive reasoning leads to a necessarily true conclusion whereas inductive reasoning leads to a causally true conclusion. Philosophy is a rational activity not in the sense that it gives us information about the world but in the sense that it enables us to scrutinize our beliefs and see whether or not they are rationally tenable. Philosophy makes us rational human beings.

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