Wednesday, April 21, 2010

History as leading to philosophy

Everything Connects -- from Beauty for Truth's Sake. The whole thing is good, but here's the bit I'm scavenging while planning for my high schooler next year.

Christopher Dawson would argue that we need to introduce more study of cultural history. Every discipline has a fascinating historical dimension, through which the student can glimpse a broader human and cultural meaning beyond the present content and procedures of the field. But we must not "abstract" the discipline in another way, by forgetting that it lives in us and in the students, not just in a set of textbooks or even in a history. There are personal reasons and experiences which have led us into this field of study, and often these are linked to the search for truth, beauty and meaning. Admittedly many students will respond that they have come the college for economic and vocational reasons, simply to earn a qualification for a profession. Yet surely they need to ask themselves some deeper questions about the profession they have chosen and its ultimate meaning and purpose.

Thus in addition to the focus on history, and the cultivation of a broader imagination, and the facilitation of contact across disciplines, a key role will be played by philosophy, precisely in helping to awaken those deeper questions and assist in finding answers to them.

Though written about universities, it reminds me of David Hicks argument for history as an integrating force in the curriculum.

Belloc says all the great events in history are about religion. Since religions are inevitably connected to a philosophy -- religions tend to come associated with some philosophy and vice versa -- it seems that the study of history properly undertaken can't help but raise the Big Questions about the Nature of Man, his destiny, his purpose, and so on.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on this!