Term Paper: Plato, Nietzsche, and Watt on the Role

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¶ … Plato, Nietzsche, and watt on the role of education

The role of Education

Education plays a critical role in the social spheres, especially in complex, modern societies. It offers a means for adults and children alike to become active players in the transformation of their societies. The central focus of education centers on the behaviors, attitudes and values that facilitate a peaceful co-existence in the face of diversity and pluralism (Plato 12). Philosophers of every period, as from the ancient stages, devoted to it a huge amount of attention. Accordingly, numerous frameworks that touch on the objectivity and nature of education have come into being. This paper critically examines the perspective of three philosophers (Plato, Nietzsche and Watts), in addition, to offering a personal analysis of the role of education in the society. An in-depth analysis of the values of education, including culture and religion are covered.


Plato's view of education is emerging from his masterpiece: "The Republican." The largeness of style and sense of humor employed in this writing has baffled readers. The book interweaves life and speculation, politics and philosophy. It offers a discussion; amongst other things, of the Law of definition, the principles of contradiction, the divisions of the mind, and the categorization of desires into useful and useless.

Plato collaborated with his teacher; Socrates, and his student; Aristotle in establishing the philosophical foundation of Western culture. Upon the death of Socrates, he spent the next 12 years travelling and upon his return, established an academy of scientific and philosophical research. In the course of his philosophical researches, he developed wide-ranging and profound philosophical systems, consequently referred to as "Platonism." Platonism is concerned with the quality of human life, at times ethical, often religious, and at other instances political. The varying aspect stems from the belief in constant and eternal realities that are free of the ever-changing quality of the physical world as professed by the senses (Plato 23). His perspective on the role of education reflects epistemological, metaphysical, and logical aspects; nevertheless, much of its fundamental motivation is ethical as presented in most of his dialogues.

Plato's personal contributions on education are greatly evident in his writings; particularly "the Republic." The development of ideas in his earlier dialogues is discernible in this literary work. The book stresses on the need to take conceptual forms as metaphysically more essential than material things. Plato reiterates that the perceptible world is an illusion shadow of some greater realm of transcendent forms or ideas. He dismisses poetry as a poor method of learning because of their misleading imitation of worldly illusions.

The Republic carries on the issue of the teach ability of virtue, and slightly touches on the doctrine of recollection, which forms a crucial part in Plato's view of the human being's ability to learn. He stresses that great education practices should aim in triggering the memory of the human mind. This is because humans do not learn, but remember. The book is a lengthy discussion of justice and its meaning to an individual and to the city-state. The huge Utopian state comes out as an analogue to the soul with the aim of understanding better how the soul can achieve the right balance. This makes it easier for the rational element to control it. Plato argues that there exist three elements to the soul: the impulsive irrational, the less irrational, and the rational. Likewise, there exist three social classes in the nation: the rulers, the guardians, and the workers. The rulers are not hereditary or self-perpetuating members of the upper class but consist of the most educated cluster in the society (Plato 362). The guardians sell their services to the society by handling the practical matters of the government and keeping order. The workers on the other hand, ensured that the whole system of the state ran smoothly. Thereby, the most rational tenets of the state guide it and ensure that all receive a level of education that reflects their abilities.

According to Plato, education forms the core of justice system. The wisdom, moderation, and courage exhibited by the rulers, guardians, and workers ideally result to the justice in society. This phenomenon reflects the values produced in the individual soul, when cultivated by the three components of the soul. Plato suggests that the state can only achieve maximum fulfillment and happiness through combining the three in harmony, and placing intelligence in control. Plato defines education as the preliminary acquisition of virtue by a young individual, when the feelings of pleasure and affection, hatred and pain that build up in their soul and directed in the rightful courses before he could comprehend the reason why; education is thus a matter of controlling the feelings of pleasure and pain (Plato 360).

He perceives education as a systematic method aimed at ensuring the aspirations and habits of the old generation passes to the younger generation and to those to come. Education is far different from the popular opinion of imparting knowledge into the souls that are short of it. He has likened knowledge to a vision implying that it needs an organ with the ability to receive it. It is not just putting sight into a blind eye. It requires the whole body to turn around with the aim of receiving the light as a substitute for the darkness. It is crucial for the whole soul to turn away from the crooked world of appetite and change that result to the blindness of the soul


Nietzsche' wrote the book: "Twilight of the idols" in 1988 and published the following year. The title of the publication later changed to "How to philosophize with a hammer." The text formed a summary of the work of Nietzsche in Germany. His view of education is somehow different from the other two philosophers. Nietzsche favors a system of education that imitates the Roman way of life. He terms the German culture in his time as too westernized (Nietzsche 124). Nietzsche has employed the Italian, British and French way of life to cast a tone of disapproval at the type of education connected with these cultures. The philosopher's view of education is entirely different from that of Plato. For instance, he advises against the notion of the fallibility of the senses.

Nietzsche agrees that education forms the centre of the society's transformation, but states that it is a weak measure for determining the quality of life. The best education is that which aids the human race in managing the struggles over the self. The philosopher is on record stating that genuine wisdom requires temperance in the application of knowledge. The quality of education matters most than the amount (Nietzsche 523). An individual should strive to apply his knowledge in solving issues rather than in striving to acquire more and more knowledge. The twilight of the idols reiterates that human excellence is a sign of decadence in the society. Human being's quest for brilliance result to an embrace of weakness, and a sag in vitality. What the human race values turns out to be their destruction in the end.

Nietzsche's perception over education is not a marginal portion of his reflections. They are more concerned with reclaiming philosophy as a way of life. He favors education that exerts a transformative impact over an individual. A good education should orient a person toward realizing some form of self-knowledge. The self-knowledge would come in handy in freeing the individual from the destructive nature of self. A good education triggers the creative instincts of man to devise modes of disciplining himself (Nietzsche 600). Nietzsche has strongly condemned the Western culture and education system. The culture promotes the kind of intellectuals designed for the capitalistic economic systems. The crisis in the modern higher education characterizes a lack of objectivity. More emphasis is on rankings and questionnaires, while denying the intellectual needs of students.

Nietzsche described education as the element that aids in the liberation of the true self. This is a refrain to freedom from the conventionality as opposed to placing a focus on the humanist subject. Quality education is responsible for making the human race conscious of their existence. It also aids in the eradication of traditional and customary beliefs. The philosopher believes that the real nature of man does not exist deep within them; they exist high above in great measures. He continues that man's greatest potential is high above the highest level they could perceive themselves to belong. The role of educators and teachers is to reveal the genuine basic material of their being. The identity of human beings is hard to access, paralyzed and bound (Nietzsche 700). Educators play the role of liberating our souls from ignorance.


Allan Watts possessed both a doctorate in divinity and a master's degree in theology. He was best renowned for his interpretation of Zen Buddhism, and of the Chinese philosophy. His book: "On the Taboo against Knowing Whom We Are" explores a mighty but unrecognized taboo. The… [END OF PREVIEW]

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