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Forms of knowledge and forms of philosophy

Smith, Richard

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Paul Hirst’s work on the nature of knowledge and its significance for education is still important, in at least two respects. One is the defence he offers of a distinctively liberal education: this is widely acknowledged, but its importance in our own time deserves greater recognition. The other, which is less often noticed, is Hirst’s avoidance of the widespread tendency to think of science as the model that all knowledge should attempt to emulate. This tendency, which in its extreme form is called scientism, represents less respect for science—which of course science deserves—than veneration of it. Wider discussion here of the part that the idea of knowledge plays in educational thinking today touches on recent work on virtue epistemology, the importance but complexity of the ideas of truth and reason, the curious rise of ‘powerful knowledge’, and recent work on the importance of philosophy in its ancient role of orienting us to reality as the home of thinking: a theme anticipated in some of the late work of Paul Hirst.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 31, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Jul 3, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 3, 2023
Journal Journal of Philosophy of Education
Print ISSN 0309-8249
Electronic ISSN 1467-9752
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 57
Issue 1
Pages 65-76
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Published Journal Article (397 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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