Kenneth Wain and the Lifelong Engagement with Education
19. Momentous Occasions: Philosophy and Autobiography in Richard Rorty, Stanley Cavell, and Kenneth Wain
Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion be your tutor: suit the action to the word, the word to the action; with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature; for anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and time his form and the very age and body of the pressure.
— Hamlet’s words to the travelling players. Hamlet, III, ii, ll, 17–25
The momentous occasion that Kenneth Wain records of his first reading of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature proved to be—or, let’s say, has so far proved to be—the pivotal point in his career in philosophy of education. Wain’s positioning of the book in his autobiographical reflections serves as an entry into a range of considerations that have, if they have not been sustained preoccupations, at least formed a backdrop to his career—a backdrop that has perhaps sometimes been obscured by more ostensibly professional philosophical responsibilities but that it is good now to have more fully in view.
As a young man, Wain had had aspirations to be a writer, and his early expectations of philosophy were that it might answer to those same senses of urgency that had motivated his literary interests. For were not Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, or...
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