• Educating for love of wisdom : John Dewey and Simone Weil

      Windhorst, H. Dirk.; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education (Brock University, 2009-05-28)
      The writings of John Dewey (1859-1952) and Simone Weil (1909-1943) were analyzed with a view to answering 3 main questions: What is wisdom? How is wisdom connected to experience? How does one educate for a love of wisdom? Using a dialectical method whereby Dewey (a pragmatist) was critiqued by Weil (a Christian Platonist) and vice versa, commonalities and differences were identified and clarified. For both, wisdom involved the application of thought to specific, concrete problems in order to secure a better way of life. For Weil, wisdom was centered on a love of truth that involved a certain way of applying one's attention to a concrete or theoretical problem. Weil believed that nature was subject to a divine wisdom and that a truly democratic society had supernatural roots. Dewey believed that any attempt to move beyond nature would stunt the growth of wisdom. For him, wisdom could be nourished only by natural streams-even if some ofthem were given a divine designation. For both, wisdom emerged through the discipline of work understood as intelligent activity, a coherent relationship between thinking and acting. Although Weil and Dewey differed on how they distinguished these 2 activities, they both advocated a type of education which involved practical experience and confronted concrete problems. Whereas Dewey viewed each problem optimistically with the hope of solving it, Weil saw wisdom in, contemplating insoluble contradictions. For both, educating for a love of wisdom meant cultivating a student's desire to keep thinking in line with acting-wanting to test ideas in action and striving to make sense of actions observed.