Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Liberal education and the good of the unexamined life
Author: Miller, Alistair
ISNI:       0000 0004 5353 5666
Awarding Body: UCL Institute of Education
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Most philosophers of education assume that the main aim of education is to endow pupils or students with ‘personal autonomy’: to produce citizens who are reflective, make rational choices and submit their values and beliefs to critical scrutiny. The underlying assumption is Socratic: that the unexamined life is not worth living, and that goods and forms of perception that cannot be articulated or rationally justified are not worthy of our consideration. The unstated assumption is Plato and Aristotle’s: that the good life is the life of the philosopher and politically active citizen. It is assumed, moreover, that all pupils should be so educated on egalitarian grounds. In this thesis, I dispute these assumptions. I argue that the good life should not be conceived in exclusively ‘intellectualist’ terms but that an ordinary life - an ‘unexamined’ life - is also worth living; that central to the good life in all its forms is the engagement in worthwhile activities or ‘practices’; and that the best way to prepare pupils for their engagement in these practices is to cultivate a range of moral and intellectual virtues. Instead of foisting on all pupils a universal academic curriculum that produces little more than ‘a smattering of knowledge’, I argue that pupils might (1) cultivate the intellectual virtues through early specialisation in at least one subject, academic or practical, that has the characteristics of a practice, (2) develop the capacity to make practical judgements through a study of rhetoric and the stories of human experience of the humanities, and (3) cultivate certain moral virtues through challenging activity and service learning outside the classroom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Humanities and Social Sciences