Ontic Apperception of an Epistemic Subject: Giving Education a Metaphysical MeaningAhmet Erhan Şekerci
This study aims to conduct a metaphysical examination of the significance of humans in education within the ontic and epistemic contexts. It focuses on the question of What is human being?, which has been discussed extensively from various dimensions. Furthermore, the study analyzes the subject in terms of the concept of mathesis. In addition to the rational and technical dimensions of education and interpersonal relations, this study introduces the ontic and epistemic dimensions of the subjects and, thus, bring forward a metaphysical view. The main objective is to draw attention to the meaning of the relationship between humans and education by focusing on the Aristotelian metaphysics of being qua being and taking the human being as the center and the most important representative of existence. This study begins by discussing Aristotle’s idea that man is an object and a subject of education before discussing his idea of man’s relationship with metaphysics vis-à-vis education. Lastly, this study considers the aspect of religious education and explains the attachment of man to religion.
Epistemik Öznenin Ontik Ben İdraki: Eğitime Metafizik Bir Anlam KazandırmakAhmet Erhan Şekerci
Bu çalışmamızda, varlık olarak insanın, ontik ve epistemik yönden, eğitim eylemindeki yerini ele almaya ve metafizik bağlamda değerlendirmeye çalışacağız. Düşünce tarihinde çokça sorulan ve bir o kadarda farklı ve derinlikli boyutları olan ‘insan nedir?’ sorusunu merkeze alıp, insanın öğrenebilen bir varlık olması açısından konuya yaklaşacağız. Eğitim ve insan ilişkisinin rasyonel ve teknik boyutlarının yanında, insan olmaklık eyleminin içeriğini ifade eden metafizik bakış açısıyla, söz konusu ilişkinin boyutunu ontik ve epistemik yönden sorgulayacağız. Aristo’nun ‘var olmak bakımından varlığın bilimi’ olarak nitelendirdiği metafiziği, varlığın en önemli temsilcisi olan insanı merkeze alarak, insan ve eğitim ilişkisinin anlamına yeniden dikkat çekmeye çalışacağız. Hem öğrenen, hem de öğreten bir varlık olarak insanın, ilk öğrenci ve öğretici rolünü ve mümkün varlık olarak metafizikle kurduğu ilişkiyi eğitim bağlamında tartışacağız. Konuyu daha çok, din eğitimi özelinde ele alıp, insanın eğitimle olan ilişkisini dini ve metafizik bir öz üzerinden, niteliğe dayalı bir yapı içinde izah etmeye çalışacağız.
This study examines the human condition from the perspective of education and provides a metaphysical justification for humanity’s character regarding education by investigating the ontic and epistemic conditions of human being, as a being receptive of education. Humans are the only beings that follow a conscious process of education through which they advance and become aware of their ontological state. Given their rationality, humans differ from other animals, which are guided by instincts. Thus, learning and teaching are essential to humanity due to its rational and spiritual dimensions.
The world is continuously changing, and humans require constant self-improvement, which renders education indispensable. To find its proper place in the unchanging world, man needs a metaphysical outlook. Hence, the metaphysical foundation of educational activities is justified. This foundation is closely connected to the duality that characterizes humanity, that is, the duality of soul and body, which indicates that man is connected to the metaphysical and material essences. Thus, an educational program that properly addresses this duality will be enduring and efficient. Throughout history, one may find religious and philosophical teachings that identify the dual aspect of man and place emphasis on the metaphysical essence. For example, Christians state that man reflects the image of God, whereas Muslims believe that the soul is Allah’s vicegerent on earth.
Man has the capability to learn, will, believe, think, and reason. Therefore, he is an agent and object of education. Certainly, Adam is a good example in this regard. By receiving divine wisdom, Adam was the first student as well as the first teacher of humanity. Humans, as progenies of Adam, became the only creature that can establish a metaphysical connection with its creator and improve itself through education. Adam is also the first product of man’s metaphysical dimension in that he underwent a selfconscious educational activity. In this regard, the concept of being an Adam expresses the symbolic dimension inherent in the process of man’s self-realization.
Education is a life-long process, which aims to guide man by improving its experience, manners, and abilities. Metaphysics involves an inquiry into being qua being. Therefore, education helps humans to conduct this inquiry properly. Education is also an important element of the metaphysical truth. Being human is to be a being that can learn. The ontic and epistemic heights of man are, therefore, possible only if humans acquire metaphysical consciousness and personal mental independence.
The most important aspect of educational activity is to provide the individual with mental freedom, that is, enabling humans to become aware of themselves as moral agents. For education to be maintained and yield results that conform to human values, educational institutions should uphold moral values. In the contemporary world, education is not simply the transmission of information from one generation to another. Instead, it may be considered a means for helping people develop their personal identity in connection with metaphysical ideals. However, this manner of understanding education is problematic, especially in religious education and education in the humanities. The reason behind this notion is that the conformist and ideological perspectives lead to the loss of the ontological dimension of education, which transforms education into an instrumentalization at best and a dangerous weapon at worst. For this reason, the metaphysical foundation of education in relation to the realization of humanity should be carefully considered.
Educational activities play an important role in humanity’s construction of civilizations. Throughout history, humans continue to bend nature to their will through education. The practical and technical dimensions of educational activities are considered sufficient for highlighting the metaphysical dimension of education. This study argues that this perspective of education is crucial to understanding the many problems of humanity in the past, present, and future. Every ideological or political movement has certain ideals concerning human beings. Therefore, any thought or activity devoid of meaning that complies with these ideals poses a significant danger to humanity. Ideological and political movements adopt this strategy to guarantee their subsistence. Thus, educational policies reflect certain ideological paradigms that underlie the milestones of human civilization.
However, interestingly and ironically, satisfactory results were never achieved throughout history despite efforts and policies regarding humanity and education to satisfy human expectations. The reasons for this failure are hidden in human existential conditions. Other suggestions and applications eliminated and rendered useless the responses to these problems and strategies developed under certain spatiotemporal conditions. The ideological and political limits of such responses and strategies, their emphasis on quantities, and the achievement of fast results in theory and practice led to various forms of mental destruction in the generations that were subject to them. This scenario may then be identified as the major cause of mental and physical disasters as a result of wars. Given these facts, one should accept that activities that do not acknowledge the moral values of humanity and, as such, deviate from the metaphysical dimension of humanity, are considered destructive.
The educational perspectives developed during the Enlightenment centralized humanity and assigned a dominant role to it in the relationship between human beings and nature. Such a dominant role was never assigned to humanity in history. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, humanity did not only enjoy the good opportunities provided by the age of knowledge but also witnessed global disasters. In our time, humanity has totally lost its world of meaning with which it makes sense of its existence or has attempted to find meaning in certain deceptions. Thus, humanity has lost its metaphysical perspective. These notions are seemingly a result of the polarization between ideological engagements that oscillate between the absolute and nothingness and quantity-centered educational policies, both of which seem unlikely to be overcome.
Thus, this study points out that human beings are rational and have free will. Human beings can learn, teach, govern, and be governed, due to their rational and spiritual capabilities. However, quantity-centered educational techniques, given their reductive and marginalizing ideological strategies, will only lead humanity to cut ties with the existential world of meaning and transform humans into mere objects of education without orientation. The solution to this problem is addressing the causes in an appropriate manner. In other words, educational activities should be established with an awareness of the meaning of human existence and in relation to the metaphysical dimension of human existence with consideration of the relevant ontic and epistemic conditions. Thus, this study investigates how human beings should be educated, such that the metaphysical dimension of human existence is also appropriately emphasized.