What You Need to Know as an Educator: Understanding the 4 Main Branches of Philosophy
Some may argue that philosophy is the essence of education and without knowing your philosophy how can you learn, how can you teach, how can you live? In this article the four main branches of philosophy will be discussed as an overview to aid in understanding the importance of philosophy as a teacher, educator, parent, or student.
The word philosophy is derived from two Greek words. The first word, philo, means “love.” The second, sophy, means “wisdom.” Literally, then, philosophy means “love of wisdom”. Each individual has an attitude toward life, children, politics, learning, and previous personal experiences that informs and shapes their set of beliefs. Although you may not be conscious of it, this set of beliefs, or personal philosophy, informs how you live, work, and interact with others. What you believe is directly reflected in both your teaching and learning processes. This chapter explores the various philosophical views that influence the teaching profession.
Although the role of Eastern philosophy in the history of the world and in education has been significant, this chapter focuses on the role of Western philosophy in shaping the educational philosophies prevalent in the United States. It is important to understand how philosophy and education are interrelated. To become the most effective teacher you can be, you must understand your own beliefs, while at the same time empathizing with others. Developing your own educational philosophy is a key part of your journey to becoming a teacher.
To understand the foundations of educational philosophies, it’s necessary to first examine philosophy’s four main branches. Understanding educational philosophy will contribute to the understanding of how these foundations have given rise to what is commonly practiced and believed in the classroom today. The four main branches of philosophy are metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, and logic.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that considers the physical universe and the nature of ultimate reality. It asks questions like, What is real? What is the origin of the world? What is beyond the stars? Your consideration of reality as an external creation or an internal construct can influence your metaphysical beliefs and perspectives and your teaching. Regardless of your definition of reality, the exploration and categorization of the physical universe form the foundation of several school subjects.
Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that considers how people come to learn what they know.
Derived from the Greek word episteme, meaning knowledge or understanding, epistemology refers to the nature and origin of knowledge and truth. Epistemology proposes that there are four main bases of knowledge: divine revelation, experience, logic and reason, and intuition. These influence how teaching, learning, and understanding come about in the classroom.
Axiology is the branch of philosophy that considers the study of principles and values. These values are divided into two main kinds: ethics and aesthetics. Ethics is the questioning of morals and personal values. Aesthetics is the examination of what is beautiful, enjoyable, or tasteful. In axiology education is more than just about knowledge but also quality of life.
Logic is the branch of philosophy that seeks to organize reasoning. Students of logic learn how to think in a structurally sound manner. Logic has two types: deductive and inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning involves examining a general case, deducing a general set of rules or principles, and then applying these rules to specific cases. Inductive reasoning involves taking specific examples and considering the general principles, rules, or cases that caused them.
What is your philosophy? Are all four branches incorporated into your values on education?