Essays on Image and Time
6. Images in Conservative Education
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Conservatism is a perennial human attitude and a constantly present cultural factor. As a consciously held theory it was however not formulated before the eighteenth century, and the expression “conservatism” itself was not in use before the 1830s. In the second section of the present chapter, under the heading “The Meaning of Conservatism”, I will attempt both to convey a general idea of conservatism as well as to give a brief characterization of its three main historical phases: premodern, modern, and postmodern. Especially in its modern and postmodern phases, conservatism is tormented by paradoxes. My ultimate aim in the chapter will be to show that these paradoxes dissolve once the dominance of, and the exclusive focus on, verbal communication is supplanted by allotting a proper role to the pictorial – to mental and physical images, and to visual thinking. Setting the stage for my argument, in the first section below I offer some glimpses of the vastly rich literature, extending well back into the nineteenth century, on the visual mind – the visual as accompanying, or even serving as the basis of, the verbal, and as accompanied, or even based on, the motor. In the third section, drawing in particular on the ideas of the liberal-conservative thinker F. A. von Hayek, I will describe the main dimensions of what might be called a conservative concept of knowledge, characterizing knowledge as local, dispersed, and embedded in practice. The implications of such a concept of knowledge for the educational system under modern/postmodern conditions are...
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