Monday, 26 September 2011

Welcome to Sophistry Blog

Why Sophistry Blog'?

This blog is primarily about education, learning, pedagogy, technology, futures, but the word 'sophistry' takes us right back to the start of Western Philosophy - Socrates, Plato and early definitions of scholarship. Today the word 'sophistry' takes on a negative meaning - "a specious argument used for deceiving someone", but back in Socrates' day, this would not be the working definition of a Sophist - 'Sophia' meaning 'wisdom' in ancient Greece. (Also think of the word 'philosophy'). Originally a sophist would mean an expert in his field. Socrates denounced the sophists of the day because they traded in wisdom for cash - he thought all knowledge should be free but not 'open source' as we shall see ;-)

I argue that 'education' is not a field of study that can be easily delineated (see Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as there is a lack of epistemological cohesion between 'philosophers of education', and much of the time educational theorists have (quite reasonably) the goal of directing social policy rather than contributing to a epistemological body of knowledge. On the other hand, "there is, in the field as a whole, a degree of adventurousness in the form of openness to ideas and radical approaches, a trait that is sometimes lacking in other academic fields"

So we (educational philosophers) are better described as Sophists - we are 'expert' in our field (be that technology, or pedagogy) but we are not contributing to anything beyond our time, as the metaphysics scholars, or the moral philosophers of past. We are pushing our own agenda (for society); not answering philosophical questions, but using philosophical arguments to forward our agenda of 'the good society'. I am not afraid to be a sophist, and you don't have to follow my brand of learning and teaching, but I am acknowledging that it is a brand, it is not the truth, there is no such thing as 'truth' in educational studies.

So, with that disclaimer in place, I will begin my sophistry in earnest.