Realism is a very old philosophy which dates back to as early as ancient Greece. The many interpretations of realist opinion lead to several varieties of realism. “The most common thread of realism is what may be called the principle of thesis of independence. This thesis holds that reality, knowledge, and value exist independent of the human mind” (Ozmon & Craver, 1995, 39). The idea behind realism supports an environment in which material items hold an important place in the idea of reality. “For the realist, matter is real” (Ozmon & Craver, 1995, 39). “The realist prioritizes a world of ‘things’ as opposed to a world of ‘ideas’” (Jacobsen, 11). “The realist asserts, as fact, that the actual sticks, stones, and trees of the universe exist whether or not there is a human mind to perceive them” (Ozmon & Craver,1995, 39). Realism in general regards the human being as a single substance composed of mind and body. “All persons naturally desire to know” (Power, 90). Humans are very curious in nature. Our dependable knowledge of external reality is possible. Physical reality is not mental. Matter is real and can be proven. “Realism never ignores the possibility of error passing for truth, but it affirms that as human beings search for an infallible knowledge of what is, they have an ability to root out error and certify truth. The key to success is logic and evidence. Neither can be neglected” (Power, 91). One of the earliest proponents of realism was through classical traditions supported by Aristotle (384 – 322 BC), the Father of Realism.
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Realism was developed through Aristotle’s interest in completing the unfinished business of idealism. Aristotle was a student of Plato, the Father of Idealism, but gradually developed differences from the teachings of Plato. He never totally departed from Plato’s influence of idealism (Ozmon & Craver, 1995). Aristotle was the son of a prominent physician in northern Greece (Dunn, 25). His father’s occupation played a significant role in the events which occurred in his life. One of Aristotle’s father’s patients was the grandfather of Alexander the Great. At the age of seventeen Aristotle began to study under Plato, and remained at the Academy for approximately 20 years. The next few years were spent “classifying what for him was the knowledge of a new world” (Jacobsen, 83-84). He then returned to his native land for the purpose of tutoring 13-year-old Prince Alexander of Macedon. “When Alexander became king and went to Athens, Aristotle accompanied him and continued to provide education in the areas of politics, rhetoric, and the natural sciences” (Jacobsen, 84). The relationship with Alexander the Great benefited Aristotle greatly. It enabled him to open his school, Lyceum. Alexander the Great financed Lyceum as well as “sent tons of plants and animals and artifacts back to Greece which made it possible for Aristotle to synthesize the knowledge of his day” (Jacobsen, 84).
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“Aristotle was both a scientist and a philosopher, and he believed that although we may separate science and philosophy artificially, there is a relationship between them in which the study of one aids us in the study of the other” (Ozmon & Craver, 1995, 41). “Aristotle viewed reality as a uniting of both actuality (form) and potentiality (matter). Both must be united in order for something to be real or to truly exist” (Jacobsen, 85). Aristotle’s greatest belief was that form or ideas can exist without matter, but there can be no matter without form. Aristotle and Plato agreed that form is always constant but matter is always changing. They also believed that we should be very much involved in studying and understanding the reality of all things. “They differed, however, in that Aristotle felt one could get to form by studying particular material things and Plato believed form could be reached only through some kind of reasoning” (Ozmon & Craver, 1995, 40). “Aristotle argued that the...
Bibliography: Dunn, Sheila G. Philosophical foundations of education. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2005. Durant, Will. The story of philosophy. New York: Washington Square Press, 1961. Frost, S. E. Jr. Basic teachings of the great philosophers. New York: Doubleday, 1962. Jacobsen, David A. Philosophy in classroom teaching: Bridging the gap. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1999. Ozmon, H. & Craver, S. Philosophical foundations of education. 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995. Power, Edward J. Philosophy of Education. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press Inc., 1990.
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