This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
INDOCTRINATION AND THE SPACE OF REASONS
School of Education Indiana University
ABSTRACT. The ‘‘paradox of indoctrination’’ has proven to be a persistent problem in discussions of the cultivation of autonomy through education. In short, if indoctrination means instilling beliefs without reasons, and if children lack the rational capacity to evaluate reasons, how can that capacity be cultivated without indoctrination? Some educational theorists have relied on a transcendental justification of rational autonomy that avoids indoctrination, while others have accepted that some indoctrination is inevitable, focusing instead on defending acceptable forms of indoctrination. In this essay, Chris Hanks draws on a conception of rationality, mind, and nature developed by John McDowell to suggest an alternative understanding of the relation between indoctrination and autonomy. He argues that McDowell’s notion of the ‘‘space of reasons’’ defuses standard debates about indoctrination. Here, rationality is understood in both a naturalistic sense, whereby the development of autonomy is the process of being awakened to the space of reasons, and in a sui generis sense, whereby reason cannot be reduced to mechanistic principles or relations. The implications of this view for education point us to the notion of Bildung as the process that cultivates rational autonomy.
In educational thought, the concepts of autonomy and indoctrination seem to be inextricably linked, like opposite sides of the same coin. This connection has proven to be a persistent problem in discussions of the proper purposes and means of education. Without rehearsing the many forms the problem has taken, the dilemma may be simply put this way: if ‘‘thinking for oneself’’ (autonomy) is a fundamental aim of education, and if children lack the full capacity to think for themselves, as many assume, then the process of cultivating that capacity must necessarily involve instilling particular beliefs, values, and skills, regardless of the child’s own motives, reasons, or preferences (indoctrination). Of course the concepts involved here need to be fleshed out in much greater detail. Most importantly, the constitutive role of rationality must be acknowledged. Thus, ‘‘thinking for oneself’’ must be understood to include, at the very least, ‘‘holding beliefs and acting on the basis of (good) reasons.’’ Conversely, indoctrination minimally includes inculcating beliefs and actions without regard to, and furthermore impervious to, the force of reasons. The dilemma faced by those committed to cultivating autonomy without coercion or manipulation has been called the ‘‘paradox of indoctrination.’’1 One possible response to the dilemma, recognizing that rational thought is embedded in biological and social processes, accepts that some indoctrination is inevitable (perhaps going on to make a distinction between benign and harmful forms of indoctrination). Others, viewing such quietism as a threat to the epistemological and normative force of reason, seek to overcome the dilemma by appealing to a universal or transcendent justification of rationality. I view both avenues as unsatisfactory, even as I find the intuitions motivating each inescapable. A new approach is required.
1. C.J.B. MacMillan, ‘‘On Certainty and Indoctrination,’’ Synthese 56, no. 3 (1983): 363–372. EDUCATIONAL THEORY j Volume 58 j Number 2 j 2008 Ó 2008 Board of Trustees j University of Illinois
E D U C AT I O N A L
VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008
Every account of autonomy and indoctrination is embedded in a particular understanding of rationality. This essay is an attempt to clarify the meaning and relevance of indoctrination to education by exploring underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions. My central claim is that certain key disputes about indoctrination (and, by extension, autonomy and other important notions) could be avoided by reframing our understanding of the relation of reason to the natural world. I begin, in the next section, by highlighting difficulties that emerge in a particular context in which the issue of indoctrination seems the most troubling: situations involving ‘‘pre-rational’’ individuals. In the following section, I attach these difficulties to a broader debate involving two rival conceptions of rationality. Tracing deep disagreements about reason to their ontological roots, I note a shared understanding of nature underlying both views. This shared perspective, combined with divergent epistemological commitments, I argue, forces the dilemma that leads directly to the paradox of indoctrination. Then, by introducing John McDowell’s notion of ‘‘the space of reasons,’’ I suggest an alternative account that avoids this dilemma, opening a new avenue for understanding the relation between autonomy and indoctrination. I sketch some implications of McDowell’s view in the concluding section. INDOCTRINATION AND THE PRE-RATIONAL SUBJECT In a classic characterization of indoctrination, T.F. Green argues, ‘‘Indoctrination aims simply at establishing certain beliefs so that they will be held quite apart from their truth, their explanation, or their foundation in evidence.’’2 For Green, teaching practices aimed simply at bringing students to an answer, without concern for its justification, fall under this description. We may debate the extent to which justification must be an explicit component of education, as opposed to merely available to students along the way. Those debates aside, the basic soundness of Green’s formulation follows directly from the typical conception of belief as, at a minimum, a disposition to assent to a certain proposition.3 The inseparable link between beliefs and propositions ties their very meaning to their rational relations to other beliefs and the world. Justification, however we go on to formulate that idea, is the context for belief. Unfortunately, this observation only pushes the issue of indoctrination to a deeper level, which can be described in at least two ways. One way to approach the underlying question is by invoking W.V.O. Quine’s notion of a ‘‘web of belief.’’4 If the meaning of any belief is (at least partially) constituted by its location within a
2. Thomas F. Green, ‘‘Indoctrination and Beliefs,’’ in Concepts of Indoctrination, ed. I.A. Snook (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972), 25–46. 3. Paul K. Moser, ‘‘Belief,’’ in The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 2d ed., ed. Robert Audi (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 78. 4. W.V.O. Quine and J.S. Ullian, The Web of Belief, 2d ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978). CHRIS HANKS is Teaching Fellow at Indiana University/Purdue University–Columbus, 4601 Central Avenue, Columbus, IN 47203; e-mail \firstname.lastname@example.org[. His primary areas of scholarship are epistemology, philosophy of mind, and social theory.
‘‘Dangerous Dualisms in Siegel’s Theory of Critical Thinking: A Deweyan Pragmatist Responds. provided the belief will be open to critical reflection once the child acquires the capacity to assess reasons. it seems open to the charges of circularity and question-begging.’’ in the sense that asking whether one should affirm the value of rationality already commits one to the practice of giving and assessing reasons.’’ and a significant portion of the indoctrination literature addresses their circumstances. overriding any belief or set of beliefs that does not claim a rational foundation. are clear-cut instances of indoctrination. See Jim Garrison. Questionbegging comes into play because Siegel takes the self-justifying nature of rationality to be decisive against the charge of indoctrination. Harvey Siegel. the question of justification is salient on the level of belief systems. n. I think this would be far from the end of the matter. but it raises at least two further issues.’’5 For Siegel. 89. rather than applying to individual beliefs in isolation. then. 1988). Siegel’s response depends on the notion that rationality is ‘‘self-justifying. no. 7. Harvey Siegel writes. ‘‘we sometimes have no alternative but to teach children. but a second way of formulating this question keeps indoctrination more clearly in the picture. In doing so. Along these lines. But what about situations involving children who have not yet developed the capacity to recognize and evaluate reasons? We might describe such individuals as ‘‘prerational. Instilling a belief is not indoctrinative. .’’ Journal of Philosophy of Education 33. The point I want to make here is that resolving the problem of indoctrination depends centrally on the conception of rationality one holds. 24. or conceptual schemes. Someone holding an instrumental view of rationality. might view the use of reason as secondary or subservient to some more fundamental interest. he takes for granted a conception of rationality as universal. thereby leaving the question of indoctrination behind. one might respond that at least we have shifted the discussion wholly into the realm of rationality. Ibid. Perhaps we can accept that efforts to instill beliefs that simultaneously lead a person to ignore the force of reasons for or against the belief.7 These issues will be taken up in the next section. the reason this need not be considered indoctrination is that we can inculcate such beliefs in a way that encourages rationality and critical thinking later on. for both a statement of this criticism and an articulation of the instrumentalist view of rationality. the stage at which one becomes (or fails to become) a rational agent in the first place.6 Siegel’s response is intuitively plausible.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 195 system of interconnected beliefs. Even staunch defenders of rationality and critical thinking acknowledge that this is so. Educating Reason (New York: Routledge.. It seems that in these cases we must unavoidably instill belief without justification. This line of thought approaches the question in terms of a child’s initial process of belief formation. 2 (1999): 213–232. or to believe counter to the weight of evidence and reason. for instance. 6. 5. Reason as self-justifying seems circular because it presumes a skeptic who finds the question ‘‘Why be rational?’’ to be a meaningful one in the first place. 167. without providing them with reasons which serve to justify those beliefs. since any reasons given would be lost on the child. Ultimately. or at least to inculcate beliefs. First.
Ibid. Siegel emphasizes the way in which beliefs are held.9 This Criterion of Authenticity seeks to legitimize the inculcation of habits and desires that sustain critical thinking by virtue of their contribution to the subsequent formation of a morally responsible person. may be disposed to act on these critically acquired elements of intentional action but will not be autonomous with respect to the relevant cluster of motivational elements. Cuypers and Ishtiyaque Haji. on the basis of good reasons. Such an agent may acquire and possess beliefs. Siegel. Cuypers and Haji’s formulation of and solution to this problem shift the context of rationality in a way that I think Siegel would be loath to accept. he insists that critical thinkers must have an evidential style of belief. The need for such a supplement to the theory is embedded in Siegel’s original inclusion of both cognitive and motivational elements in the notion of a critical thinker. Just as instilling beliefs can avoid the charge of indoctrination provided that those beliefs foster and are open to subsequent critical reflection. In one sense this move simply runs parallel to Siegel’s own thinking regarding the inculcation of belief. Educating Reason. the individual concludes that her life would be better if she were accepted into her community. the habits of reason-giving and acting on the basis of good reasons.11 8. must also be instilled in a nonindoctrinative fashion. no. Their solution to this problem is to buttress Siegel’s response to the challenge of indoctrination with a requirement that the inculcation of habits in pre-rational children be ‘‘relationally authentic’’. Stefaan E. such that she is subsequently unable to shed this disposition. such as the desire to subject beliefs to rational scrutiny. evaluative principles. Accepting Siegel’s defense of nonindoctrinative belief-inculcation. . At the same time. 6 (2006): 727. The image they present as problematic is of a proto critical thinker who is a slave to reason. Cuypers and Haji address the motivational component of critical thinking. Rather. This is not to imply that Siegel would countenance any method of instilling belief. even if she rationally concludes that doing so would be best (in the example. not epistemic. 739. I think he would say that criticisms of method are moral. desires. they argue that motivational elements of critical thinking. 80. 11.10 Specifically. 9.. Whereas Cuypers and Haji place constraints on the means employed to instill beliefs and dispositions. criticisms. Whereas our discussion so far has focused on the capacity for rationality. ‘‘Education for Critical Thinking: Can It Be Non-indoctrinative?’’ Educational Philosophy and Theory 38. etc. 10. they must include those elements that lead to responsible moral agency and must avoid methods that subvert such agency. which requires renouncing rational scrutiny concerning certain religious beliefs).8 The most interesting hypothetical example offered by Cuypers and Haji is of a person who has been conditioned in some way (say by use of electrical shocks) to compulsively evaluate and act on the basis of reasons.196 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 A second issue regarding Siegel’s response to the indoctrination objection is raised by Stefaan Cuypers and Ishtiyaque Haji in a recent article that seeks to extend Siegel’s conception of critical thinking. so does instilling habits and desires avoid the charge by fostering and being open to subsequent revision of those habits and desires.
’’ Journal of Philosophy of Education 38. Consider one example given by Cuypers and Haji. ‘‘it depends on the circumstances. The issue here is how to understand the relation between motivating desires and habits and the cognitive exercise of reason. including the degree to which the person whose reasons they are is disposed to act in accordance with them — i. Cuypers.e. Harvey Siegel. the normative and motivational forces of practical reasons go together. 1 (2004): 75–90.’’ Provided we could clearly distinguish this method from a ‘‘mild paternalism’’ that we may view as an inherent component of education or child rearing. On the view I favor. .’’ 733. and Practical Reason. The answer is likely to be ‘‘sometimes no. But their motivating force is dependent on a wide range of considerations.’’ I hope the point is clear: this move obliterates a vital distinction between an analysis of the necessary and sufficient conditions for rational autonomy.’’ Or. I suspect that his attempt to address this question would begin with a challenge to the causal theory of action on which Cuypers and Haji depend. ‘‘Neither Humean Nor (Fully) Kantian Be: Reply to Cuypers. sometimes (perhaps most often) yes. which lie outside the causal chain of events. in order to rule out certain methods of habit formation (they label these methods ‘‘authenticity subversive’’). from Siegel’s perspective. is it the case that such paternalism ‘‘undermin[es] fulfillment of necessary conditions of responsibility’’? The answer is not merely that empirical evidence is required.14 This commitment forces them to explain actions and decisions in terms of the causal history of beliefs and desires possessed by the agent. Stefaan E.’’13 Siegel demurs from going on to offer a defense of this separation of normative and motivational issues. his response leaves open the issue raised by Cuypers and Haji regarding whether the practice of inculcating habits in prerational children can be nonindoctrinative. must pull them apart. the normative force of reasons is determined wholly by their epistemic quality. as the authors acknowledge. In fact no such methods could definitively be categorized in this way. ‘‘extreme paternalism. I think an adequate account of reasons. 13. on the degree to which that person has the ‘‘critical spirit. Cuypers and Haji. is in formulating an epistemic principle. the Criterion of Authenticity. Autonomy.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 197 Where Cuypers and Haji go wrong. This divergence will return to play a role later in my analysis. I think Siegel’s approach to the issue would echo his rebuttal to an earlier attempt by Cuypers to raise similar issues:12 On the views that Cuypers considers. no. ‘‘Critical Thinking. Siegel’s view of rationality as universal and (in some sense) transcending particular contexts leads him to insist that we also consider the epistemological and normative force of reasons.’’ Journal of Philosophy of Education 39. 14. More importantly. no. Indoctrination of 12. both practical and theoretical. ‘‘Education for Critical Thinking. A different grounding assumption that leads to the present dilemma is one shared by Siegel and Cuypers and Haji. Given Siegel’s reply just cited and the structure of his theory of rationality. even more likely. Both positions rely on a sharp dichotomy between pre-rational and rational stages of human development. 3 (2005): 536–547. and the messy business of cultivating that autonomy in actual situations.
because it leaves no room for judging some reasons better than others or for criteria that could form the basis for such judgments. 16. evaluations of reasons must always be open to revision based on further evidence. . 15. my intent is to bring to the fore the relevance of how one conceives the relation between rationality and nature to how one understands indoctrination. If that is the case.16 Instead. method. I have not given a thorough treatment of issues surrounding the issue of indoctrination. date back at least to Green. All this depends. more in line with Garrison’s. 1997). according to Siegel. and probably for Cuypers and Haji. It should be said that Siegel repeatedly and forcefully advocates fallibilism in the development and application of rational criteria. independent of any arguments or justification. is necessary if the practice of weighing and evaluating reasons is to make any sense. and other contributors in Snook’s collection. These elements. TWO CONCEPTIONS OF RATIONALITY AUTONOMOUS REASON In the preceding summary. it is unclear to me why the question of indoctrination is salient to them in the way that it seems to be. Siegel’s defense of his notion of critical thinking is centrally concerned with responding to critics of the Enlightenment project and understanding of rationality.198 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 the kind considered by these authors concerns interferences with children’s development in the pre-rational stage. Furthermore. including those who challenge the legitimacy of epistemology as a field of philosophical and educational interest. published in 1972. on the other. Concepts of Indoctrination. has the potential to simultaneously dissolve the problem of indoctrination. I qualify it because their embrace of a causal theory of action may suggest a different conception of rationality. involving intention. new arguments. John Wilson. 19–23. or additional criteria. Dissolving such a dualism.15 this distinction relies on a more fundamental dichotomy between rationality and truth.17 Relativism is incompatible with critical thinking.’’ 25–46. For Siegel. though. content. in raising the issue of habit formation and the notion of pre-rational children. Harvey Siegel. First. Such a conception. This distinction opens Siegel to the charge of Cartesian dualism often leveled against him. demands an absolutist conception of truth and a rejection of epistemological relativism. 17.’’ 17–24. and experience and the world. I have not surveyed the various attempts to delineate criteria of indoctrination. Siegel argues that a commitment to critical thinking. prominently debated in the literature. Rationality Redeemed? (New York: Routledge. on a conception of absolute truth. on one hand. I have sought to highlight the intimate relation between the question of indoctrination and conceptions of rationality. ‘‘Indoctrination and Rationality. ‘‘Indoctrination and Belief. That is. The ‘‘probably’’ clause is motivated by their apparent acceptance of the basic framework for understanding rationality advanced by Siegel. For instance. I will argue. and indeed any attempt to justify reasons or beliefs. I want to emphasize two key (and especially controversial) components of Siegel’s wide-ranging defense. for Siegel. described later in this essay. Before exploring one such challenge in depth. or outcome. Next we compare Siegel’s views to Jim Garrison’s attempt to do just that.
at least two problematic implications follow from Siegel’s insistence on the necessity of independent criteria of rationality. The implication I want to draw out of this picture is the way it maps onto the case of pre-rational individuals. The strength of these arguments aside. Whereas indoctrination broadly speaking may involve various intricacies of good versus bad reasons. and a critique that challenges some of those norms or claims (from the perspective of a different community. which can be formulated in various ways. belief with or without justification. but staunchly insists that rationality itself must involve criteria that stand independent of particular circumstances. 324–325). populated as it is by particular circumstances. mind/body. in some sense. In Garrison’s estimation. One particularly strident critic is especially helpful in bringing out the question that concerns us here. . Considering the Consequences. Jim Garrison.’’ They lie on the opposite side of a dichotomy from universal reason and absolute truth. 326). His fallibilism wisely acknowledges that any specific application of critical thinking must take place under such conditions. Jim Garrison’s evaluation of Siegel’s work takes issue with both of the key components identified here. I lay down this marker here as a vital question to be addressed: What can indoctrination mean in such a situation? Siegel’s view of critical thinking and rationality has been challenged from many sides.’’18 Though sharing his fallibilism. between criteria and contexts. and the messy contingencies of everyday life. Acknowledging that all rational claims and judgments take place within a particular social context (in keeping with the fallibilism noted previously). component of Siegel’s defense of critical thinking is that rationality must. From Garrison’s perspective. necessity/contingency. the situation of pre-rational children stands in just the same relation to rationality as do all the natural and social factors that make up a ‘‘context. outside the empirical realm. the upshot of them for our purposes is this: Siegel’s notion of rationality stands. Thus. it constructs a set of untenable dualisms. ‘‘Reclaiming the Logos. for instance) (RL. and so forth. This work will be cited as RL in the text for all subsequent references. First. 3 (1999): 317–318. and his denial of the ultimate epistemological relevance of differences and otherness. and on and on). and 18. with its norms and truth claims. cultural traditions.’’ Educational Theory 49. and Restoring Context. extending beyond the particular circumstances from which they emerge. his admitted fondness for metanarratives. he argues that this fact does not preclude at least some of those judgments from having universal application. transcend context. Garrison thinks Siegel goes wrong in arguing for general epistemic criteria that stand outside both a given social context.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 199 A related. ‘‘Siegel’s absolutism begins to turn into something strongly resembling Kantian transcendental idealism. but distinct. and between reason and nature (RL. especially for its universalistic claims. Additional versions of the dichotomy could be added (thought/action. in a fundamental way. Garrison criticizes Siegel for preserving a sharp distinction between philosophical and causal questions. no. Transcendentalism resonates also in his rejection of contextualism.
More specifically. . but also the action-based orientation of pragmatism as well as the means-end view of rationality Dewey advanced. leads to a deep misunderstanding of the role of reason in our lives by hypostatizing truth claims and concealing the role of context.19 Tracing the contours of Garrison’s perspective will allow us. to evaluate it side-byside with Siegel’s account. no. These commitments provoke an insurmountable dilemma. This work will be cited as JDT in the text for all subsequent references. The creature’s task is to determine means whose consequence is the restoration of smooth habitual functioning’’(JDT. but adheres to the Kantian view that the grounding of philosophical (rational) truths must stand outside the causal. however: Kantian idealism forces rationality into a transcendent realm that. Here we encounter not only the naturalistic frame. Garrison’s view is firmly naturalistic. while they simultaneously mask real differences among people and communities. though. Put another way. I need to spell out the contrast. There I will defend the counterintuitive claim that the two views share a fundamental presupposition that underlies and perpetuates dilemmas surrounding the issue of indoctrination. NATURALIZED REASON Context is of fundamental importance to Garrison. it is rooted in Darwinian evolutionary biology: ‘‘Whenever folk become lost in their efforts to understand Dewey’s theory of practical reasoning. and refuses to explicitly attach his epistemological claims to metaphysical presumptions. Jim Garrison. Aside from this inherent dilemma. First. in the following section.’’ Educational Philosophy and Theory 31. 327). 293). so that any criterial or justificatory claim must be criticizable and potentially revisable. idealizing reason in this way. it is within the context of organisms 19. And if it did.200 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 these are the familiar dualisms associated with Cartesian epistemology. ‘‘John Dewey’s Theory of Practical Reasoning. and unnecessarily restrict genuine. contingent realm of experience.’’ qualifies many of his claims (for instance. His account of rationality stands in stark contrast to the transcendental idealism he sees in Siegel. Rooted in Deweyan pragmatism. because the latter grants a ‘‘weak contextualism. from a naturalistic perspective. they should think of a biological creature whose habits of action have been disrupted. Siegel acknowledges that the practice of reasoning always takes place within contexts. He champions fallibilism. but insists that some rational criteria must have the potential to extend beyond particular circumstances. it could have no connection with the actual world in which all our actions and reasoning take place. by reiterating his fallibilist commitments). I have said that Garrison’s view is firmly naturalistic. Garrison must read these dualisms into Siegel’s work. by Garrison’s lights) entirely within the strong contextualist frame to which Siegel is so resistant. these tactics merely obfuscate such underlying assumptions. For Garrison. cannot exist (RL. locating practical reason (the only kind of reason we have. creative dialogue. 3 (1999): 294. says Garrison. we might add. A second difficulty Garrison sees in Siegel’s view of rationality is its fundamental incoherence. suppress marginalized perspectives.
Compare my preceding description of Garrison’s view with Nicholas Burbules’s similar account: ‘‘rationality is a substantive achievement. Nicholas Burbules. 21. decisions and judgments as rational (or not). ‘‘Pragmatists who reject neo-scholastic criteriology. freedom’’ (JDT. ‘‘Afterwords. 1 (2000): 131. Rationality Redeemed? 105. it takes shape in the activities.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 201 responding to and interacting with their environment that the activities of inquiry and deliberation emerge. and truth — must always remain.’’20 To the extent that Burbules’s statement follows Garrison. Rationality Redeemed? 105. 323).’’ Here Garrison faces the 20. there is no room on this view for actual activities. ‘‘would point out that one might determine the rationality of activities. referring to the position he attributes to Siegel. reducing it to a mere consequence of determinate nature. In this free exercise of practical reason. So his account faces the challenge of explaining the relative validity of rational criteria. Does Garrison provide a satisfactory response here? In his brief reply to Garrison’s critique. and modifying one’s own motivations and desires. Siegel. then I see no problem with this passage.’’ Educational Theory 50. Siegel asserts that Garrison has merely reasserted a kind of criterion in the guise of consequences. Garrison fills out this notion of deliberation in his account of Deweyan practical reasoning.’’ he argues. decisions and judgments which people make. but if it is to be read rather as ‘‘is constituted by. decisions. and judgments of persons who possess the skills and formal knowledge of rationality. Siegel finds it problematic: If ‘‘takes shape’’ is to be read as ‘‘manifests itself’’ in the opening sentence. decisions. 301). Garrison would presumably locate his answer to Siegel’s challenge of assessing activities. imagining consequences of various actions. or belief. we could put the point a different way. and within that setting that those activities — including associated concepts such as logic. oriented toward reflective judgment regarding consequences of imagined actions. deliberation is what distinguishes intelligent action from mere behavior.’’ so that the sentence suggests that what rationality is is determined by the actual activities. Garrison’s account submerges the question of rationality within the notion of ‘‘reflective deliberation.22 In light of my presentation of the issue here. In this way Garrison embeds his understanding of rationality in a naturalistic frame while ‘‘creating the conditions for intelligent. On this view. decisions and judgments to fail to be rational. and judgments by their consequences. they would suggest that rational deliberation involves trying to imagine these consequences creatively before acting’’ (RL. . for there is no role for criteria to play in assessing specific activities. decisions. The deliberative process involves creatively transforming a problematic situation. it is certainly Garrison’s. but who apply these in real contexts of belief and action. such that meaningful judgments can be made about the reasonableness of an action. quoted in Siegel. although situated. or judgments as rational or irrational. justification. Here Dewey’s consequentialism does the work for Garrison.21 Whether or not this ‘‘strong contextualist’’ view is Burbules’s. 22. decision. no. insisting on this contextual constraint totally undermines the autonomy of rationality. For Siegel. Harvey Siegel. then I see a big problem: namely. Indeed.
on an organic level. or There’s No Such Thing as Indoctrination. though. Belief formation and rational judgment must be understood as part and parcel of the process of induction into social practice. sphere that Siegel confronts. criteria. They may deny the relevance of the term. or There’s No Such Thing as Indoctrination. Contingency. the justification of reasons. context-free rationality is his explicit target. 24. 303). no. At the same time. and the like are culture-bound and therefore cannot provide an independent perspective from which to judge a practice to be indoctrination. can only amount to an appeal to shared background and interests. on this view. Instead. Where does this leave indoctrination? It seems that strong contextualists such as Garrison have two options. noting that all notions of rationality. When the value of such institutions is challenged. it throws rationality back into the deterministic. this ethnocentrism (Rorty’s term) puts the coherence of any concept of indoctrination in doubt. Garrison seems committed to a response given in terms of biological processes. Garrison’s biological account of rationality makes sense out of his placement of reasons in the causal change of events (JDT. and ultimately relativistic. Garrison’s account of creative problem solving and coordinated action as tools of practical reasoning is a fruitful one. 25. Richard Rorty. 302).’’23 This view poses serious problems for any account of intercultural dialogue. because there is no neutral ground.’’ When we are pressed to justify our arguments (about language.202 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 question he poses to Siegel: Where do the principles. If rationality is a natural capacity (or set of capacities) on the order of sense perception. is merely an engagement with existing.24 Garrison’s view successfully breaks down the sharp dichotomy between pre-rational and rational individuals. 1 (1989): 53–61 . ‘‘Indoctrination: A Contextualist Approach. or standards of deliberation permanently reside? Since any notion of autonomous. Irony. Rorty asserts. In this sense Garrison’s view echoes Richard Rorty’s notion of ‘‘solidarity. In fact. he speaks of reasoning as the integration of many organic functions in a holistic process (JDT.’’25 Alternatively. though underdeveloped. justice. or whatever). A similar picture emerges in cultural terms. Alven Neiman. This is the source of the concern I expressed in note 15. Indeed.no direct answer can be given. contextualists could acknowledge that 23. we can only say something like ‘‘these views seemed to cohere better with the institutions of a liberal democracy than the available alternatives do. But ultimately. 1989). functions. This seems to be the approach of Alven Neiman in an article whose title sums up the position nicely: ‘‘Indoctrination: A Contextualist Approach. depending on their understanding of the concept. autonomy. The forms they take are relative to social context and can only be judged from within the conceptual frame belonging to a given society (or within a shared cultural space where cultures can interact). I want to point out that it undermines any charge that a particular practice of instilling beliefs may be indoctrinative. 197. which I identified with the theories of Siegel and Cuypers and Haji. which I cannot address here. and Solidarity (New York: Cambridge University Press.’’ Educational Philosophy and Theory 21. then its cultivation.
truths. 2 (1986): 267. or necessary. and contextualists and rationalists in general. Hypostatized meanings. . In the final section I argue that. For one thing.’’ Synthese 68. Also. only makes sense within a community where such a practice is already valued. Specifically. The challenge for both. 318. the transcendental Understanding (Kant). for Dewey. is an individual and cultural achievement requiring continuous reworking in an ever-evolving universe. Garrison argues that. Garrison’s defense of reflective intelligence. Dewey the neo-Darwinian thought nothing eternal. Within this ontological framework the ideas of absolute truths and autonomous reason have no place. often seem to talk past each other because their differences exist on an ontological. no. Jim Garrison. or the structure of Nature (Herbert Spencer) beyond time. Garrison and Siegel. mirror Siegel’s treatment of indoctrination. it seems. and this explains his account of Deweyan rationality: Rationality. for Siegel. becomes how to understand rationality in relation to that world. the cultivation of critical reflection and the introduction of plausible alternative worldviews into the child’s experience can stimulate a healthy spirit of doubt in order to keep vibrant the capacity for inquiry and intelligent deliberation. for Garrison it merely ‘‘inoculates’’ children against the harmful effects of necessary indoctrination. and in the following section I will argue that their views overlap a great deal more than it initially appears. in his only publication that I know of on the topic. Siegel’s claim is universalistic: reason justifies itself regardless of social context. and contingency. chance. I want to emphasize serious differences between their views. though: ‘‘as a Darwinian naturalist.26 From this perspective. NATURE AND THE SPACE OF REASONS I have noted that Garrison’s commitment to Deweyan pragmatism leads him to advance a biological. Both view critical reflection as an important antidote to early belief inculcation. emphasis in original). evolutionary theory of rationality. takes this approach. whereas the later cultivation of reason. 292) 26. or rational laws are usually placed in some transcendent Platonic heaven. rethinking certain assumptions at this level can dissolve the tensions leading to these differences and refocus the issue of indoctrination. on a practical level. Garrison’s acceptance of (benign) indoctrination is necessary because there is no categorical difference between the socialization of young children and the social interactions of ‘‘rational’’ adults. In many ways these recommendations. not an epistemological or ethical. overcomes the charge of indoctrination. (JDT. For one thing. Here. they both seem to understand the natural world (represented in the debate by the term ‘‘context’’) in causal and mechanistic terms. level. but claim that in this sense it need not be harmful. Garrison. Garrison’s Darwinism runs deeper than biology. subsequent steps can be taken to alleviate negative consequences of indoctrination. though. immutable. This is more than a semantic difference. First. I believe that we are participants in an ever-evolving universe’’ (RL. while indoctrination is necessary in bringing a child into a linguistic community. then. ‘‘The Paradox of Indoctrination: A Solution.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 203 indoctrination is a necessary part of socialization. in the present case.
situations. 28. demands that we have a conception of absolute truth and that we search for the best metanarrative that captures that truth. then McDowell’s work may help us gain clarity on the questions that we have been exploring. That Siegel clings to a kind of Kantian transcendentalism prompts the charges of Cartesian dualism so often made against him. These contextualist and rationalist views share a conception of nature as causal. physical. I believe both insights are worth preserving. while he acknowledges the inevitable contextuality of persons. the rationally autonomous noumenal self27 — and that he consistently declines to defend a Kantian (or any other) metaphysical or ontological perspective. his arguments in defense of rationality itself always point beyond these contingencies. however. is the autonomous exercise of human reason upon the material of experience. it is difficult to make sense of the influence of reason in any way that does not amount to some kind of supernatural. in its most basic form. What is at stake. and the broader focus of McDowell’s concern. One way of presenting the philosophical problem of mind and world is in terms of ‘‘the Given. Garrison maintains a fundamental commitment to naturalism. Siegel maintains a commitment to rational autonomy.28 That we. and deterministic. . may never fully grasp truth is no argument against its existence. Rationality Redeemed? 18 and 136. I turn to John McDowell’s reconceptualization of nature. For Siegel. and actions. is the nature of mind’s relation to the world. Spontaneity. If I am correct that the issue of indoctrination (and one could imagine here other epistemological concepts of special concern to educators) is inextricably tied to our understanding of the nature of rationality. However. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. the capacity to exercise reason.’’ 543. It should be noted that Siegel does distance himself from certain Kantian notions — for instance. judgments. McDowell offers a sustained and detailed treatment of human consciousness and reason that is both naturalistic and nonreductive. In his influential book Mind and World.’’ When we consider the activity of human perception 27. to have any legitimacy. The controversy generated by Siegel’s defense of rationality provides a clear example of this problem. and its relation to rationality. which motivates him to argue for reason’s transcendence of the natural frame. ‘‘Neither Humean Nor (Fully) Kantian Be. which motivates him to adopt an understanding of reason that fits within this causal frame. one that sees it in stark opposition to the idea of an autonomous sphere of rationality. Siegel. then. Siegel. Yet. transcendent force. for a way to avoid this impasse. John McDowell. for Kant and McDowell. the ontological presupposition they share makes the claims incompatible. is to carry on the Kantian project of defending a notion of ‘‘spontaneity’’ that overcomes Cartesian dualism. 1994). Mind and World (Cambridge. bound by social contexts.29 McDowell’s goal.204 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 The key observation I am trying to bring out is that Garrison’s ‘‘strong contextualism’’ is a consequence of a particular understanding of nature. 29. In a natural world governed by laws and relations of causality.
intentions. So. and other mental categories.31 Consider an example with more obvious educational implications. McDowell’s central point is that such an account. ‘‘red. son. social meanings. 1999). and determinism. though. the Given. a complex account of the origin of language and culture within the realm of physical and biological laws. McDowell’s answer to this dilemma hinges on ‘‘the space of reasons. See Daniel Dennett. for example. for instance. 2004).32 In this case. the father’s actions might be explained as a manifestation of a genetic drive toward self-preservation. despite his attempt to overcome dualism. The man is crying. 23–24. 32. ‘‘Don’t worry. 31. Even Kant. The space of reasons operates as a metaphor for the context in which concepts operate.30 So far this is not a radical conception. A boy and his father. See one concise version of it on 56–60.’’ In this phrase ‘‘law’’ is used in a scientific sense to indicate the context of mechanistic causal processes governing physical reality. there seems to be no room for anything like rational autonomy. if our conceptual understanding of the world is simply caused by our perceptual experiences.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 205 alongside the mental activity of using concepts. Maximilian de Gaynesford. walking down a city sidewalk. 2003). it’s not our problem. Now. did not challenge this assumption. pass a disheveled. at least. particular wavelengths of light — acquire the concepts by which we know them — say. the question emerges at what point objects of raw perception — say. ‘‘What’s the matter with that man?’’ the boy asks when they have continued down the block. tableness) is a basic and integral part of that experience. John McDowell (Cambridge: Polity Press. far from bringing us closer to the essence of this episode. for two popular contemporary examples of such a project. when I have an experience of seeing a green pen on the table in front of me. Guns. leaves out elements (namely. penness. McDowell also claims that they are thoroughly interpenetrating.’’ The problem is that if we say that concepts are constructed in the mind and imposed on experience. the conceptual content of that experience (greenness. and Steel (New York: Norton. following their own rules and characterized by unique sorts of relations. philosophers have parsed this dilemma in many ways. There is no possibility of separating out raw perceptual contents from the concepts and categories that give them shape and sense in my mind. 30. McDowell’s key insight. This argument is a recurrent theme in Mind and World. While these two spaces are in a sense autonomous from each other. Germs. It is a sphere of logical justification and implication between beliefs. Freedom Evolves (New York: Penguin. it is difficult to defend any type of constraint or rational justification for some judgments over others. or Jared Diamond. but the same challenge continues to come up any time the world of experience and the realm of rationality are thought of as distinct spheres.’’ a concept borrowed from Wilfrid Sellars. and the like to mechanistic and causal terms would have to produce. concepts) basic to the experience as experience. Conversely. .’’ What is the best way to describe the boy’s experience here? Someone trying to reduce all conceptual relations. has to do with the relation between the space of reasons and ‘‘the realm of law. This is the arena of perception. His question is met with the reply. shabbily clad man sitting on a low wall and shivering in the face of a brisk early-winter wind.
Ibid. This is a delicate point that requires further clarification. however. Rather. Causation is a concept. to say that McDowell stakes out a position between these views. McDowell’s point is that there is no simple boundary between that world. The boy in the preceding example is a perceiving creature constrained by natural laws. to be a rational animal. When we reflect on the impetus of such a project. McDowell situates his view against two rival conceptions of the relation between mind and world. That would be to fall into the view McDowell calls rampant Platonism. This interpenetration of the conceptual and perceptual should not be taken as a denial of the existence of external reality. just is to be the sort of creature for whom our dealings with the realm of law are inevitably conducted in conceptual terms. as well. arguing that such descriptions cannot capture the web of meaning and rational relations characteristic of the space of reasons. the space of reasons is the context for this (or any other) way of understanding experience and the world. treating it as a manifestation of underlying. make his case by arguing for an independent structure of the rational world.’’ forces.. The mechanistic approach attempts to explain away the conceptual content of the event. So McDowell is not making a radical coherentist or constructivist claim that the meaning of any concept is dependent entirely upon its role within a web of related concepts. McDowell challenges this claim. a view that Kant seemed to have held with his description of the noumenal world.’’33 It is tempting. distinct from human activity and experience. We can grasp the inescapability of the space of reasons in a different way. but incorrect. To be human. Rather than return to a pre-Enlightenment. In fact. . all conceptual content is enmeshed in both rational relations and relations of reference to the world. except possibly as symptoms of deeper biological drives. Rather. He does not. McDowell urges us to resist confusing insights into the realm of law with comprehensive knowledge of nature as a whole. the realm of law. such as the boy’s formation of moral concepts related to human suffering and need. we quickly recognize that the whole point is to organize events in the ‘‘natural’’ world into a conceptual framework. 76–78. The 33. Far from being reduced to mechanistic causal relations. ‘‘natural. says McDowell. which he labels ‘‘bald naturalism’’ and ‘‘rampant Platonism. This impasse. and the space of reasons.206 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 Learning processes. he seeks to dissolve the conflict by undermining an assumption shared by both perspectives. McDowell is equally insistent on the point that the space of reasons is always and everywhere intertwined with the realm of law. for instance). drop out of the explanatory picture. The bald naturalist takes the view that conceptual content can be adequately described in mechanistic terms (as operations of physical or biological laws. arises as a result of the Enlightenment conception of nature as the realm of law. He wants to preserve a broader understanding of nature that can include the space of reasons. mythical understanding of nature. and he does inherit biological traits resulting from his evolutionary history.
It is also plausible. Reasoning is not like walking. Ibid. To explore the question of indoctrination. and the like once it takes conceptual shape through the working of Kantian spontaneity. offering love and reassuring promises. or by making spontaneity passive in its response to experience. 50–54. but at least we can roughly identify ‘‘first steps’’). as well as the larger context of interactions between father and son. that kind of response seems required. which rationally interacts with beliefs. Taking up this last distinction. Ibid.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 207 core of this effort is McDowell’s insistence that ‘‘exercises of spontaneity belong to our mode of living. . arguing that experiences include nonconceptual content. Maybe he just wants to get to the bank on time. Gareth Evans. but one need not espouse a Platonic theory of Forms or envisage a Kantian noumenal realm to fall into the Myth of the Given. in that conceptual categories and relations are explicitly part of the picture. and. It should be clear by now where I see Siegel and Garrison fitting into this picture. 35. When the child’s mother coos and sings to her. Rather. either by constructing a gap between mind and experience that cannot be bridged. In any case. takes the teeth out of rational autonomy. the intuitive response is that this situation just does not have anything to do with beliefs. reasons. we would find it ridiculous to hear her accused of indoctrination. 78. But why? Not because the mother’s words (‘‘Mama will never let anything bad happen to you’’) could be supported with reasons if necessary. in the distinction between rational and pre-rational individuals. judgments. I would add. Those worried about the boy’s cultivation of a vocabulary of emotions or a sense of social justice may see potential indoctrination operating in the exchange.. we would want to know more about the father’s intentions. encountering the crying man? This case is clearly different from that of the infant. we have no means of identifying a clear-cut developmental stage or achievement marking the emergence of rationality. to interpret the father’s actions as unrelated to any systematic effort to shape beliefs or instill a worldview. How about our young boy on the street.. Undoubtedly Siegel would resist the label. Let us assume it is safe to consider a newborn pre-rational. or concepts at all. in his defense of metanarratives. But once we 34. Siegel’s commitment to a notion of rationality that transcends specific contexts indicates his similarity to those McDowell labels rampant Platonists. makes only the slightest concession to a division between empirical reality and conceptual activity.’’34 We can acknowledge that humans are rational animals and hold that reason can be exercised autonomously without placing this process outside of nature and setting up a dualism between mind and world. though. It is gradual and diffuse (as are motor skills. by McDowell’s lights. If the child is pre-rational. we see at least this much separation between reason and experience in Siegel’s account of absolute truth. a prominent interlocutor of McDowell’s.35 Even this minimal separation. we can return to the question posed earlier: What can indoctrination mean in the context of a pre-rational individual? Empirically.
but also as part of the context of the child’s emerging conceptual understanding. Columbia. the case is not so different from that of the newborn after all. Bald naturalism. reduces notions of mind and rationality to the realm of mechanistic law. are fully entwined with the mechanistic realm of law yet unique and different in kind from the scientific conception of nature.’’ in Essays on Actions and Events (Oxford: Clarendon Press. his understanding of evolution stresses the emergent. biological. This is the key insight to which McDowell introduces us. operating within the space of reasons. and especially McDowell. Here a careful distinction is in order. Garrison’s position seems more clear-cut.37 It will be useful to explain more clearly the claim that McDowell’s account of mind’s relation to the world is naturalistic yet explicitly nonreductive. ideas. the importance of creativity in Garrison’s account of practical reasoning could make room for something like spontaneity as Kant. ‘‘Mental Events. and natural. Talk of meanings. 37. and (it comes to seem) natural organism. Donald Davidson. and reasons is just as essential. McDowell achieves his naturalistic perspective by stepping back from common assumptions about reality and seeking to articulate a view that accounts for the existence and peculiar experiences of consciousness. Seeing no escape from the causal frame. involving a boy and his father. and firmly within the bald naturalist camp. as his uncompromising Darwinian worldview suggests. nothing central to Siegel’s position is lost by dropping the pre-rational/rational distinction and adopting McDowell’s view. such that new values and configurations of reality constantly come into existence. ‘‘Identifying Traces of Hegelian Bildung in Dewey’s Philosophical System’’ (paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy.208 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 take this wider perspective. as presented by McDowell.36 Furthermore. It is a central tenet of his view that the activities of minds. This view relies on the intuition that there is nothing paradoxical or transcendental about saying that mechanistic descriptions of reality may be accurate and thorough without capturing the whole of nature. It means that. Specifically. cited in McDowell. 1980). South Carolina. March 2007). beliefs. Garrison follows Donald Davidson in arguing that rational concepts and relations are always translatable into mechanical laws. the experience of being human is not adequately conveyed by even the most detailed and systematic description of the physical motions and biological processes occurring in a human body. If. McDowell offers a more satisfactory picture of reason and nature. The space of reasons is at work there. somehow tacked on to the preexisting physical. Mind and World. 75. understand it. minimally through the mother’s understanding of the situation. Jim Garrison. raising the issues 36. in cases like the example given previously. Yet in the end Garrison does not exploit these openings to reexamine his understanding of nature. The pervasiveness of the conceptual renders the category ‘‘pre-rational’’ highly problematic. 11. as I am arguing. That notion implies that rationality is an extraneous capacity. Garrison tries to avoid this simplistic view. . and thus that judgments and actions can always be described in causal terms. For one thing.
41. and biology. beliefs. and concepts. This would be the topic of a separate inquiry. and a matter of reasons. I am thinking here of the often-noted tendency for girls’ socialization to involve much greater capacity to recognize and interpret a wider range of emotions than boys. On Certainty (New York: Harper. the affinities between McDowell’s approach here and Garrison’s view are notable. I suggest that their differing understandings of this passage reflect the different views of nature discussed here.’’ This two-part notion involves. emphasizing the educational component with the provocative phrase ‘‘having one’s eyes opened to reasons at large by acquiring a second nature. bk. ‘‘Identifying Traces of Hegelian Bildung in Dewey’s Philosophical System. in addressing the question of how participation in the space of reasons actually comes about. effect. nor as descriptions of sharply differentiated spheres. 39. Rather. Still. and indoctrination do matter. 1969). in brief. it should be evident that the naturalism shared by Garrison and McDowell requires that this be a gradual process involving the harnessing and coordination of capacities intrinsic to human beings. McDowell. their interpretations of Wittgenstein vary. in their own terms. 1999).’’40 This process McDowell elucidates by way of the concept of Bildung. Though ‘‘acquiring a second nature’’ may seem to suggest a dichotomy. First. I have emphasized McDowell’s concern to make room for the Kantian notion of spontaneity. differing in what is brought into view and what must be held stable as assumptions. reason-giving. While I think both Garrison and McDowell would accept this formulation. Whether or not the father is systematically distorting his son’s rational capacities by stifling critical reflection or failing to expand his understanding of the range of human emotions38 is both a matter of cause. they both blur the distinction between pre-rational children and fully autonomous agents. Mechanistic and conceptual explanations of experience should neither be thought of as competing accounts. the idea that virtuous action is a natural capacity of human beings and. 84. both adopt (with modification) Aristotelian notions of practical reasoning that link ethics to epistemology and theory to action.’’41 Furthermore. A fuller account of the process would include something like Ludwig Wittgenstein’s imagistic assertion that ‘‘light dawns gradually over the whole. However.39 McDowell extends this notion to all conceptual activity. that people must be educated for virtuous action through the practice of social interaction. For an articulation of this argument. see Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. 1999). 42. Raising Cain (New York: Ballantine. 21. Aristotle. Perhaps this approach gives the impression that McDowell’s views would be more congenial to Siegel than to Garrison.’’ . 40. a holistic process of self-formation and social formation. 2. culture. he draws on Aristotle’s notion of ‘‘second nature. Mind and World. second. first. Nichomachean Ethics (Indianapolis: Hackett. and what emerges for both is an understanding of education as Bildung. To describe human activity in the space of reasons. see Garrison.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 209 of belief formation. they are best understood as distinct perspectives on the same reality. Fleshing out this elusive educational concept in the present circumstances would launch us on a whole new inquiry. McDowell emphasizes a different dimension of his theory. For Garrison’s recent move in this direction. Ludwig Wittgenstein. but.42 38.
First. or context. I think it is a serious mistake to reduce ‘‘induction into the space of reasons’’ to merely one element within a broader process of socialization. Siegel.’’ if not something that transcends nature. I believe. decisions. something like the Kantian noumenal realm. this is almost Siegel’s response: ‘‘My view. no matter how much one admires good reasoning. the position I am defending shares Siegel’s ‘‘rejection of ‘strong contextualism’. My primary purpose has been to urge a particular way of thinking about that concept: in a phrase. Garrison may be tempted to suspect that McDowell is smuggling in. time.’’45 This is to say that 43. This gives human reason enough of a foothold in the realm of law to satisfy any proper respect for modern natural science. understanding rationality as inhabiting its own autonomous sphere of nature recaptures the salience of debates about indoctrination. But recall that this is exactly the picture McDowell seeks to avoid. 45. the concept of indoctrination has served as an exemplar of the kinds of educational issues that are deeply intertwined with fundamental conceptions of rationality. Garrison’s resignation to the inevitability of indoctrination. where the demands of reason reside independent of the natural world. other aspects of the educational process). 84. rationality as naturalistic and nonreductive. under cover of the space of reasons. Ibid. in the end that admiration can be nothing more than a cultural bias or biological trait. This should defuse the fear of supernaturalism. if not in the natural world?’’ McDowell would challenge the premise and suggest that Garrison reconsider his understanding of nature.210 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 The critical difference between Garrison and McDowell involves the autonomy of reason. is not that truth is ‘beyond’ space. My contention here is that such a move would go far toward reconciling the views of rationality held by Siegel and Garrison.’’43 In response to Garrison’s inevitable question. The demands of reason must arise in nature. Once this move is made. [which] amounts to just the rejection of the claim that rationality is determined or constituted by the actual activities. ‘‘Where does the space of reasons lie. but rather that it is typically independent of these things. The impetus for this effort is the hope of gaining clarity on the issue of indoctrination (and. potentially. As it happens. . or a Platonic world of Forms.’’ 130. Though reason is always and everywhere enmeshed in particular cultural and physical contexts. CONCLUSION: INDOCTRINATION IN THE SPACE OF REASONS In this essay. McDowell. or take issue with the parameters of nature presumed by the bald naturalist mindset. Second nature could not float free of potentialities that belong to a normal human organism. Several observations can be made in this regard. 44. and remain ‘‘essentially within reach of human beings. and judgments that people make. is a direct result of his subsuming reason within a mechanistic view of nature. ‘‘Afterwords. Mind and World.’’44 What he does not do is specify what he means by ‘‘independent. in any case.
Rationality cannot be neatly extracted from everyday life and behavior. McDowell’s view urges two observations here. my emphasis has perhaps focused more on the autonomy of reason. Finally. To acquire a second nature is to awaken to the demands of reason. intentions. to what extent. but rather involves stunting or distorting development in the space of reasons. instilling certain beliefs is often a central aim of such distortions. and we need not enter psychological or cognitive-scientific debates about when and how rational capacities emerge to make the point. judgments. both attending to interconnected networks of meaning (as opposed to isolated beliefs) and developing a full-bodied account of conceptual activity (as opposed to a narrow focus on ‘‘critical thinking’’). rationality is natural. than one might expect. of the slave to reason who has been conditioned into compulsive critical reflection. Clearly. behavioral responses or beliefs. an aspect of our second nature and part of what it means to be human. as one observant reviewer of this essay noted. then it too only makes sense within this sphere. Now we can see the problem with Cuypers and Haji’s example.HANKS Indoctrination and the Space of Reasons 211 education for rational autonomy can go wrong.’’ reason is always 46. Just as experience is conceptual ‘‘all the way down. with the primary questions being whether or not. This is why. along with language and relations among concepts. the potential subject of indoctrination.46 Insisting on this linkage from the outset suggests a holistic approach to pursuing rational autonomy as an educational aim. though a distinction between skills and motivation may be helpful in a general definition of rational autonomy or critical thinking. First. causal relations. not mere consequences of mechanistic. The hidden assumption in the example is that rationality is merely a behavioral response or habit. and reasons occupy. There is no need to legitimize certain acts of belief inculcation in terms of some later achievement. Explorations of how it can go wrong are the stuff of debates about the methods. and in what manner it should be instilled. introduced earlier. Thus the distinction between indoctrination and legitimate teaching should be made in terms of the process itself. content. because the demands of reason are distinctive to it. is the manner in which such beliefs are held. This line of thought indicates what. a process which involves both the ability to grasp those demands and the disposition to respond (a process which is always incomplete. The idea is rather that beliefs. . But what makes a particular effort indoctrinative (or not). This is not the absurd claim that infants are born as full-fledged rational agents. from my perspective. Indoctrination is not so much about instilling anything. and less on rational autonomy. of course). is crucially correct about Garrison’s view. as Siegel rightly claims. and outcomes of indoctrination. the space of reasons. these do not represent separate problems of education. If indoctrination involves these notions. McDowell’s picture of nature also gives us guidance regarding a particularly troubling scene of potential indoctrination. I have argued that this view challenges the idea of a pre-rational child. as a distinct category. as opposed to behavioral conditioning.
47 or to Garrison’s own work connecting imagination. I have suggested Bildung as a promising way of thinking about such a project. . Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (New York: Cambridge University Press. Advancing a theory of Bildung requires a more substantive account of second nature than I can begin to offer here. and education. emotions. For a detailed exploration of emotional intelligence. we need a much fuller picture of the boy’s conceptual development and the father’s willingness to engage in reason-giving. This is the point my examples of the infant child and the boy on the street are intended to make. Massachusetts: Belknap Press. understood in the context of their lived experience. emotions. If I have successfully introduced a fruitful way of thinking about rationality. and all the rest. Frontiers of Justice: Disability. 47. 69–81. one might look to the ideas of Martha Nussbaum on human capabilities and emotional intelligence. to make a judgment about indoctrination. Among contemporary thinkers. see Martha Nussbaum. For discussion of human capabilities. 2003).212 E D U C AT I O N A L THEORY VOLUME 58 j NUMBER 2 j 2008 and everywhere manifested in actual situations. see Martha Nussbaum. Nationality. and reasoning. In the latter case. Fortunately the notion has a rich history. then I hope others find those questions worth exploring. indoctrination. Perhaps these concluding remarks raise more questions than they answer. 2006). stretching from Aristotle through the German philosophical tradition. Species Membership (Cambridge. bound up with habits.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?