Recollecting the Religious: Augustine in Answer to Meno’s Paradox

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Philosophers of education often view the role of religion in education with suspicion, claiming it to be impossible, indoctrinatory or controversial unless reduced to secular premises and aims. The ‘post-secular’ and ‘decolonial’ turns of the new millennium have, however, afforded opportunities to revaluate this predilection. In a social and intellectual context where the arguments of previous generations of philosophers may be challenged on account of positivist assumptions, there may be an opening for the reconsideration of alternative but traditional religious epistemologies. In this article, we pursue one such line of thought by revisiting a classic question in the philosophy of education, Meno’s Paradox of inquiry. We do this to revitalise understanding and justification for religious education. Our argument is not altogether new, but in our view, is in need of restatement: liturgy is at the heart of education and it is so because it is a locus of knowledge. We make this argument by exploring St Augustine’s response to Meno’s Paradox, and his radical claim that only Christ can be called ‘teacher’. Though ancient, this view of the relationship of the teacher and student to knowledge may seem surprisingly contemporary because of its emphasis on the independence of the learner. Although our argument is grounded in classic texts of the Western tradition, we suggest that arguments could be made by drawing on similar resources in other religious traditions, such as Islam, that also draw upon the Platonic tradition and similarly emphasise the importance of communal and personal acts of worship.
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Archival date: 2021-08-13
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