Metaphilosophy and educating: Stephen C. Pepper's selectivism as a basis for educational excellence
Webster, Sheila J.
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Atheory of educating is always derived from philosophical tenets. In Western society these tenets are concerned primarily with the provision, maintenance and evolution of knowledge for use by future generations. The provision of knowledge for future generations is for the purpose of ensuring cultural and biological survival. Essentially this provision involves two major criteria: first, that only that knowledge which has been judged to be exce11 ent shou1d be passed on and, second, in add it ion to providing knowledge claims, the evidence for knowledge claims must also be extended in order to fully enrich meaning for an individual involved in a learning experience. Embedded in such a theory of educating are a concept of educational excellence and a concept of the provision of evidence for knowledge claims. This thesis applied the contributions of metaphilosophy to the concepts of educational excellence and the provision of evidence. The metaphilosophy of Stephen C. Pepper was examined for its contributions to a theory of educating and a concept of educational excellence. Metaphilosophy is concerned with making knowledge meaningful. It is a subject matter which may be studied in and of itself and it is a method for acquiring meaning by interpreting knowledge. Historically people have interpreted the knowledge of the world from basically four adequate world views which Pepper termed formism, mechanism, contextual ism and organicism. He later proposed a fifth world view which he termed selectivism. In this thesis these world views were shown to contribute in a variety of ways to educational excellence, most particularly as they allow for interpretations and analysis of evidence about knowledge claims. Selecti vismwas examined in depth and was shown to contribute to educational excellence in two major ways; first, as a world hypothesis which offers an interpretation of the evidence for knowledge claims and, second, as a metahypothesis which provides knowledge about the nature of knowledge. Finally the importance of metaphilosophy in contributing to cultural survival was demonstrated in a discussion of the potential impact of selectivism on a theory of educating and educational excellence.