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RUSSELL AS PHILOSOPHER OF EDUCATION: REPLY TO HAGER
HOWARD WOODHOUSE Educational Foundations / University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, SK, Canada S7N owo

I. INTRODUCTION

aul Hager's admirable article, "Why Russell Didn't Think He Was a Philosopher of Education", I contains much that is of worth. He takes seriously, for example, the claims'of educational philosophers like William Hare and myself that there is a logical connection between Russell's philosophy and his educational thought even though he goes on to reject this perspective. 2 Then, in defence of his own view, Hager provides a clear and cogent account of Russell's philosophical method. and indicates the implications of this method for

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I Russell, n.s. 13 (1993): 150-67. For reasons of space I ignore Hager's interesting account ofWilliam Frankena's approach to philosophy of education and its relationship to Russell's educational thought. For my views on recent work in analytic philosophy of education, see H. Woodhouse, review of Richard Pratte's Philosophy ofEducation: Two Traditions, leachers College Record, 19 (1994): 426-9. For a comprehensive account of the relationship between Russell's educational thought and analytic philosophy of education, see Brian Hendley, Dewey, Russell, Whitehead: Philosophers as Educators (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois U. P., 1986). 2 W Hare, "Russell's Contribution to Philosophy of Education", Russell, n.s. 7 (1987): 25-41; Hare, "What Can Philosophy Say to Teachers?", in Hare, ed., Reason in leaching and Education (Halifax, N.S.: School of Education, Dalhousie U., 1989), p. 44; H. Woodhouse, "Science as Method: the Conceptual Link between Russell's Philosophy and His Educational Thought", Russell, n.s. 5 (1985): 150-61; Woodhouse, "More than Mere Musings: Russell's Reflections on Education as Philosophy", Russell, n.s. 7 (1987): 176-8; Woodhouse, "Russell and Whitehead on the Process of Growth in Education", Russell, n.s. 12 (1992): 135-59.'

russell: the Journal of the Bertrand Russdl Archives McMaster University Library Press

n.s. 14 (wimer 1994---95): 193-205 ISSN 0036-01631

194

HOWARD WOODHOUSE

Russell as Philosopher ofEducation
2. RUSSELL'S PHILOSOPHICAL METHOD AND ITS RELEVANCE TO EDUCATION

195

enlarging the scope of the mathematical and natural sciences. On this basis, he concludes that there is no evidence that Russell thought the same method could· be applied to education, thereby putting an end to the "evidently mistaken" (p. 165) idea that any conceptual connection exists between his philosophy and educational thought. While Hager's argument is plausible enough, there is a rich irony in it to which I wish to draw attention: his own analysis of Russell's philosophical method can in fact be used to show that Russell applied it quite consistently in his educational philosophy. In establishing this claim, I shall provide an analysis of Hager's own account of Russell's method, its implications for knowledge in general, and the reasons that he advances for thinking that Russell did not apply it to the study of education. In . each case, I shall argue that Russell did apply his philosophical method to the study of that discipline in the hope of making education more 'exact and scientific. To the charge that Russell denied that this was his intent, I shall draw attention to at least one occasion where Russell did assert there to be a logical connection between his social, political, and educational thought and his philosophy (UE, pp. 25, 27-8). Even if he hadn't made this connection, Russell's reluctance to draw such a conceptuallink may well have been the result of the lack of precision that could be attained in education, as compared to the a priori sciences of logic and mathematics and the empirical science of physics (MI, pp. 12, 18).3 My argument suggests the need for open-mindedness about different interpretations of this question, regarding each as a...
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