HomeΦιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 20 no. 2 (2019)

THEOLOGY- PHILOSOPHY OF CATHOLI C EDUCATION: AN EXAMPLE FROM THE “ DUTCH CATECHISM ”

Peter M. Collins

 

Abstract:

The most prevalent modes of philosophy, educational theory, and philosophy of education currently extant in the United States represent a pronounced departure from the fundamental patterns of the Greek-Jewish Christian tradition. Among the noteworthy characteristics of the more popular trends is a tendency toward the denial of, or an indifference regarding, the existence of a Transcendent Being. This feature alone has effected a radical departure from the scholarly traditions which are characterized by investigations into the relationships between theology and philosophy. This factor, in turn, bears potentially strong influence upon the theory and practice of education. Partially in order to promote the revivification of a heritage not unrelated to that of many early American intellectual leaders, the main purpose of this paper is to exemplify the structure and an aspect of the substance of a theology-philosophy of Catholic education in accord with a selected passage from A New Catechism: Catholic Faith for Adults (known as the “Dutch Catechism”). The theological-philosophical dimension of this structure is represented by a developmental process entailing three stages of progression: from human love through an awareness of the “God of the philosophers” to belief in Christ. It is shown how theological and philosophical elements of this process bear upon the importance of early childhood religious education as well as of Catholic education somewhat more broadly conceived. It is noted that, although the theological-philosophical foundations allow for numerous options in education, there are bounds within which the direction of this education must be retained. The current importance of this kind of investigation lies in 1) the fundamentally empiricist approaches in philosophy of education so prominent today, 2) the inability of empiricist philosophies to confront prescriptive values in an authentically rational fashion, and 3) the necessity of a theological-philosophical approach for the Christian who wishes to think rationally about prescriptive values, and to formulate the kinds of educational plans which will prove to be effective in promoting authentic human happiness. Brief references to the practical (including educational) efficacy of theoretical (including theological and philosophical) conceptions, and to teacher education, conclude the paper.