Science and Spirituality: Tradition and Interpretation in Liberal Education

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In an essay entitled “Liberal Education and Open Society: Absolutism and in Curriculum Theory” (Alexander 1989a), I argued that the two approaches to liberal education embrace unintended assumptions that are problematic for liberal society, in that they embrace textual and methodological canons before questions and criticism. D. C. Phillips (1989), Elliot Eisner (1989), and Thomas Greenfield (1989) expressed puzzlement at the commitment of religious philosopher such as myself to the principle of criticism before and to the priority of questions over answers. This essay offers a response to their concerns by developing a conception of nonorthodox religious traditionalism, role of this sort of traditionalism in the education of a liberal society, and consequences of such a view for pedagogy and curriculum. I argue that the philosophical rationalism of such medieval philosophers as Aquinas, Maimonides, Alfarabi presents an excellent model for thinking about how traditions can be critiqued from the perspective of alien assumptions, and suggest that this sort approach could form the foundation for a nonorthodox traditionalism within liberal education. This sort of centrist approach, I argue, is crucial for the M of liberal society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-400
Number of pages18
JournalCurriculum Inquiry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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