Wellbeing and education: Issues of culture and authority

Journal of Philosophy of Education 41 (1):17–28 (2007)
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Abstract
The idea that education should equip people to lead flourishing lives and help others to do so is now becoming salient in policy-making circles. Philosophy of education can help here by clarifying what flourishing consists in. This essay examines one aspect of this. It rejects the view that well-being goods are derivable from human nature, as in the theories of Howard Gardner and Edmond Holmes. It locates them, rather, as cultural products, but not culturally-relative ones, drawing attention to the proliferating forms they have taken over the past three or four centuries. It looks to aesthetics and art criticism as a guide to a philosophical treatment of well-being goods more generally. It also takes off from aesthetics and art criticism in seeking to identify reliable authorities on the flourishing life. On this, it rejects elitist conceptions in favour of a more democratic model, emphasising its importance in education for citizenship.
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