Fichte, Part I

In a comment to this post on the deep-revolving John C Wright’s blog, I promised to dig up more information on Johann  Fichte, a philosopher bridging Kant and Hegel, and viewed as sort of a transitional figure. He’s quite amazing, really – it’s bracing, to put it one way, to read such ideas stated so baldly.

Anyway, here is an article by Stephen Hicks, who I do not know anything about, except that his well-written summary of Fichte’s teachings says what I want to say, only better.  An excerpt:

On the other hand, the new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will in the soil which it undertakes to cultivate, and produces on the contrary strict necessity in the decisions of the will, the opposite being impossible. Such a will can henceforth be relied upon with confidence and certainty.[76]

Unfortunately, it is difficult to do this under contemporary living arrangements, in which children go to school and then return to corrupting influences in their homes and their neighborhoods at the end of the day. “It is essential,” Fichte then urged, “that from the very beginning the pupil should be continuously and completely under the influence of this education, and should be separated altogether from the community, and kept from all contact with it.”[77]

Sound familiar? It should: the way this separation is accomplished today doesn’t even require physical separation: parents, themselves products of the schools, have been trained to not interact with their children in straight-forward human ways springing from love and affection. Rather, the parent-child relationship is characterized by the parent acting a the enforcement arm of the school outside school- it is somehow Mom’s and Dad’s job to see that homework, extra-curricular activities and the resulting exhaustion fill up the child’s every waking hour.  Once children – the ‘good’ students – learn the lesson that their worth depends on how they do in school, then Fichte’s goal is achieved: they police themselves, doing only what the school tells them to do, and rejecting any though that they might be wasting their time – and destroying their souls.


Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

2 thoughts on “Fichte, Part I”

  1. I was fairly well-educated, but public school left me feeling empty. The diploma is worthless if it’s based primarily on how well one takes tests.

    This is an interesting take on how parents are the arm of enforcement for public school. It seems that the ideal education is one in which the parents are involved and care about what is happening in their childrens’ education. Many of my friends who teach talk about how parents will blame the teacher rather than the student for not getting adequate grades. I believe that in our country now, lack of both parental and student responsibility is as much a problem as increasing brainwashing and homogenizing of students as aided by parental coercion. I suppose that they’re both symptoms of the same disease.

  2. Thanks for reading. Over the 40 or so years that I’ve been paying attention to education, the time demands on students and parents have grown and continue to grow: homework has gotten completely out of hand, many districts have or are pushing for year-round school, after school activities take up huge amounts of time (and you’re told that you won’t get into a good college if you don’t do them), academics are starting at younger and younger ages – and we’re turning out graduates who are more and more intellectually and emotionally crippled.

    So, yes, parental involvement is important – but be involved in the real lives of your kids, not in the mindless and exhausting busy work the schools cook up. Read them a book. Tell them about your grandmother. Teach them how to cook an apple pie. Pray with them. These are the kinds of things around which a human being can build a meaningful life.

    These are issues discussed in detail under the ‘schooling’ and ‘education history 101’ categories here on this blog.

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