On the Contemporary Relevance of Greek παιδεία to the Concept of a Balanced Education: Aristotle, Nietzsche, Camus, H. Arendt


  • Valentin Kalan




Greek philosophy, phenomenology, world, education, nihilism


Contemporary education systems are in a constant process of restructuring, thus requiring philosophy to reconsider the basic assumptions of education. The phenomenon of education can only be defined and clarified historically, i.e. with reference to the ancient Greek paideia. The Greek culture created a comprehensive system of both education and pedagogy as a theory of education, teaching, and knowledge (Dilthey). 
(1) A phenomenological approach to Aristotle's pedagogy. Aristotle's theory of physical, moral, and political education (Nicomachean Ethics and Politics) is founded upon the notion of the natural development of every being. In addition, Aristotle creates the concept of philosophical pedagogy. A philosophically educated person (ho pepaideumenos) has the competence to treat problems emerging with the formation of particular sciences, and to reflect on the method of each scientific discipline. This philosophical culture is also connected with dialectic, rhetoric, and politics. 
(2) Nietzsche's ideas on education and culture are presented in two of his early works: On the Future of Our Educational Institutions and We Philologists. In his criticism of the German education system of his time, he explains his basic historical assumption that the real homeland of education is the Hellenic world. A restructuring of the education system cannot be carried out without the Greek and Roman antiquity as the embodied categorical imperative of all culture. A general education which disregards antiquity is considered barbaric. However, Nietzsche's philosophy of education remains unfinished, giving no definite conclusions. 
(3) Camus philosophy describes the modern West European culture as nihilistic. The essence of nihilism is a systematic ignorance of the limits of human nature, which can lead to historical crimes and to destroying the conditions for the human existence in the world. The formation of a world that will not be subdued by the logic of nihilism is possible only through artistic creativity. His ‘solar’ or Mediterranean thought, giving special emphasis to nature, measure, and beauty, is a revival of Greek philosophy.
(4) In her essays Between Past and Future, Hannah Arendt studies the contemporary crisis of education. She distinguishes three causes for the crisis: the assumption of an autonomous child's world, the predominance of pedagogy over knowledge, and the teaching of skill rather than of knowledge. Every education system must bear responsibility for the development of the child as a person, at the same time ensuring the continuity of the world. The phenomenon of refusing responsibility for the world is a symptom of estrangement. In her view, education is where it is up to us to decide whether we love the world and our children enough to prepare them for the task of renewing a common world.


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24. 12. 2009




How to Cite

Kalan, Valentin. 2009. “On the Contemporary Relevance of Greek παιδεία to the Concept of a Balanced Education: Aristotle, Nietzsche, Camus, H. Arendt”. Keria: Studia Latina Et Graeca 11 (2): 119-38. https://doi.org/10.4312/keria.11.2.119-138.

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