Distinguish Between Common and Technical Senses of Philosophy in Education

Distinguish Between Common and Technical Senses of Philosophy in Education
Distinguish Between Common and Technical Senses of Philosophy in Education

Distinguish Between Common and Technical Senses of Philosophy in Education

Philosophy is a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means. It signifies a natural and necessary urge in human beings to know themselves and the world in which they live and move and have their being.  Philosophy is a comprehensive system of ideas about human nature and the nature of the reality we live in. It is a guide for living, because the issues it addresses are basic and pervasive, determining the course we take in life and how we treat other people. Hence we can say that all the aspects of human life are influenced and governed by the philosophical consideration. As a field of study philosophy is one of the oldest disciplines. It is considered as a mother of all the sciences. In fact it is at the root of all knowledge.

Education has also drawn its material from different philosophical bases. Education, like philosophy is also closely related to human life. Therefore, being an important life activity education is also greatly influenced by philosophy. Various fields of philosophy like the political philosophy, social philosophy and economic philosophy have great influence on the various aspects of education like educational procedures, processes, policies, planning and its implementation, from both the theoretical and practical aspects (Enoh, 2003).

Distinguish between common and technical senses of philosophy in education

The beginning of philosophy coincides with the beginnings of man;  homo sapiens (sapiens means wise, a word often used to refer to a philosopher. Philosophy is both particular and universal i.e. it varies from time to time (traditional or modern), from place to place (European, African, Asian  etc). Particular means that, a human being facing different situations in different places at different times is likely to respond differently to these situations. Universality of philosophy means that philosophy as a human response can be found in every period of history in every culture/society on earth.

Back to the main question,  In common sense, philosophy is taken to refer to one’s attitude to life, which is as a result of one’s assumptions, beliefs, attitudes and prejudices to things.

In this sense, everyone has his own likes, dislikes, prejudices as a result of one’s own experiences, upbringing and background. In this sense, everyone has his own philosophy of life, which guides and directs how he conducts himself. Statements like: “Honesty is the best policy”; Punctuality is the soul of business”; “No condition is permanent” etc. embody personal philosophy or common sense philosophy.

Philosophy in general or common sense is also equated vaguely with “theory or reasons or general objectives”. Such meanings could lead to questions like: “what is the philosophy of your school? or what could be the philosophy of his actions?  Whereas:


Technical philosophy is a formal area of discipline which contains tested and verified beliefs, assumptions, principles or ideas in some clearly identifiable and special form of experience.

In its technical sense, philosophy as an academic discipline in which scholars devote their time and energy. It is characterized by logical, consistent, and systematic thinking, so as to reach conclusions that are sound, coherent and consistent in all their parts. To philosophize, therefore, is to engage in a strenuous activity of thought and to pursue it with no other aim than to satisfy the questioning of human mind.

Under this technical sense of the word, philosophy is conceived as action; as content and as attitude. As activity, it involves analyzing, speculating, synthesizing, prescribing or even criticizing issues. As content it involves those issues that make up a course of study and as attitude, it refers to the distinctive attributes or dispositions, which are often required in doing philosophy. These attitudes include, logical consistency, being critical, tentativeness and comprehensiveness. (Akinpelu, 1981).

The following are the nature and functions of philosophy are:

Philosophy is a set of views or beliefs about life and the universe, which are often held uncritically: We refer to this meaning as the informal sense of philosophy or “having” a philosophy. Usually when a person says “my philosophy is,” he or she is referring to an informal personal attitude to whatever topic is being discussed.


Philosophy is a process of reflecting on and criticizing our most deeply held conceptions and beliefs: This is the formal sense of “doing “philosophy. These two senses of philosophy—“having” and “doing”—cannot be treated entirely independent of each other, for if we did not have a philosophy in the formal, personal sense, then we could not do a philosophy in the critical, reflective sense. Having a philosophy, however, is not sufficient for doing philosophy Oroka, (2010). A genuine philosophical attitude is searching and critical; it is open-minded and tolerant—willing to look at all sides of an issue without prejudice. To philosophize is not merely to read and know philosophy; there are skills of argumentation to be mastered, techniques of analysis to be employed, and a body of material to be appropriated such that we become able to think philosophically.

Philosophers are reflective and critical. They take a second look at the material presented by common sense. They attempt to think through a variety of life’s problems and to face all the facts involved impartially. The accumulation of knowledge does not by itself lead to understanding, because it does not necessarily teach the mind to make a critical evaluation of facts that entail consistent and coherent judgment Ogundowole, (2004).

Critical evaluations often differ. Philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others disagree, first because they view things from different points of view and with different assumptions. Their personal experiences, cultural backgrounds, and training may vary widely. This is especially true of people living at different times and in different places. A second reason philosophers disagree is that they live in a changing universe.

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