”Happy are those who live under a discipline which they accept without question” (Isaiah Berlin)

Stephen Law redogör i The Philosophers’ Magazine för sin bok The War for Children’s Minds. Han citerar där ur The Catholic Encyclopedia’s inlägg under ”infallibility”:

[One] must listen to the voice of those whom God has expressly appointed to teach in His name, rather than to one’s own private judgment … he who chooses to make himself, instead of the authority which God has instituted, the final arbiter in matters of faith is far from possessing the true spirit of faith.

Att jämföra med Isaiah Berlin i ‘The Pursuit of the Ideal’:

Happy are those who live under a discipline which they accept without question, who freely obey the orders of leaders, spiritual or temporal, whose word is fully accepted as unbreakable law; or those who have, by their own methods, arrived at clear and unshakable convictions about what to do and what to be that brook no possibe doubt. I can only say that those who rest on such comfortable beds of dogma are victims of forms of self-induced myopia, blinkers that may make for contentment, but not for understanding of what it is to be human.

Berlins värdepluralism har ibland tolkats som en intäkt till grupprättigheter och särlagstiftning för att skydda icke-liberala minoriteter. Dessa ”tolerans-liberaler” accepterar då exempelvis separat skolgång med religiösa utgångspunkter. Men många av de citat jag lagt ut på sistone pekar mot att vid varje tillfälle Berlin diskuterar utbildning och skola så låter han som en genuin ”autonomi-liberal” . Värdepluralismen tycks implicera att individen oundvikligen är ställd inför svåra avvägningar här i livet, och all utbildning måste sträva mot att ge individen verktyg att handskas med detta; därmed är all utbildning som tvärtom strävar efter att överföra en fastlagd värdeskala och moralisk auktoritet helt förkastliga. Berlin måste därför ses som en försvarare av det som han beskriver som karakteristiskt för västerländsk utbildningstradition:

Western education since the earliest times has consisted in teaching men the techniques of answering for themselves the questions which most tormented men – what to be, what to do, how to treat others, what to seek above all other things.

Hursomhelst, för att återgå till Stephen Law: han har en tankeställare till alla de som anser det legitimt med religiösa skolor.

Now here is the challenge. Those who favour a move back in the direction of the kind of Authority-based religious education that predominated up until the 1960s should ask themselves the following question.

Suppose political schools started springing up – a neoconservative school in Billericay followed by a communist school in Middlesbrough. Suppose these schools select pupils on the basis of parents’ political beliefs. Suppose they start each morning with the collective singing of political anthems. Suppose portraits of their political leaders beam down from every classroom wall. Suppose they insist that pupils accept, more or less uncritically, the beliefs embodied in their revered political texts.

If such schools did spring up, there would be outrage. These establishments would be accused of educationally stunting children, forcing their minds into politically pre-approved moulds. They’re the kind of Orwellian schools you find under totalitarian regimes in places like Stalinist Russia. My question is, if such political schools are utterly unacceptable, if they are guilty of educationally stunting children, why on earth are so many of us still prepared to tolerate their religious equivalents?

Isaiah Berlin, ‘The Pursuit of the Ideal’, The Crooked Timber of Humanity, (London: Pimlico, 2003), s. 13-14.
Isaiah Berlin, ‘Democracy, Communism and the Individual’, (s. 5-6), The Isaiah Berlin Virtual Library.

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