Peculiarities of understanding the right to education in the era of antiquity

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №11 - 2019

Author: Muzhchil Savelij, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The right to education is one of the inalienable human rights related to second-generation human rights. Its history is traditionally counted from 1793, when in the Declaration of Human Rights and the Citizen of the Jacobin Constitution of the Year I, the public was given the task of ensuring access to education for everyone.

At the same time, issues of the right to education are discussed throughout the entire history of the existence of mankind, not to mention the fact that certain ideas about the accessibility and necessity of education for various segments of the population, and justice in the field of education are expressed in a real social historical practice.

The purpose of this article is to consider the views of ancient Greek thinkers on educational and legal problems and their social conditioning.

First of all, it is necessary to determine what we mean by the concept of education. For us, education is, first of all, a synonym for the development of a person in accordance with the social ideal, which an individual tries to achieve making all possible efforts. In different epochs, one or another ideal image becomes relevant, brought to life by a specific way of human social activity.

The right to education in this case is a historically concrete opportunity that an individual has to achieve this ideal image and lead a life, a worthy of a man. The highest degree of realization of such an opportunity is provided by higher education.

As you can see, this view differs significantly from the generally accepted one, reflected, for example, in the definition of M. Zadorina: 'The right to education is a constitutional right to receive a certain amount of knowledge, creating the prerequisite for socio-economic and legal progress of society, the development of each person, its culture and well-being' [1, p. 93].

The above definition cannot be called universal in any way, since the right to education does not come down to a certain array of available legal acts, and it is not limited to the possibility of obtaining a certain amount of knowledge. Understanding the right to education that we offer is focused not on nominal-quantitative, but on substantial, substantive foundations and has great heuristic potential.

A man in the era of antiquity is thought of as a microcosm, a smaller cosmos, embodying all the characteristics of a macrocosm, a larger cosmos. The cosmos, which seemed to be a living creature in the era of antiquity, was seen as harmonious, intelligent, beautiful, orderly, non-hectic, and wholesome. Therefore, such is the ideal person.

Orientation to the image of the cosmos as a basis has features of the organization of social and natural life activities of that time. According to Gusseva: 'In the structure of practical activity in the antiquity, a special emphasis was placed on the function of goal-setting, which reflected the embodiment of the subjective characteristic as the prerogative of the slave owner, a free citizen in relation to a slave, who was entrusted with only the function of fulfilling the order of the slave owner. Such a division of activity and emphasis were reflected in natural-philosophical systems in a special form, in the form of a hypertrophied idea of the functions of goal-setting, which is expressed in an ontologized image of the beginning. The image of the beginning, of the cosmos, thus arises as a result of the human world order' [2, p. 45].

Approaching the image of the beginning, the self-realization of a man as such, as a special being, that is equally powerful and equal to the whole, universal, in the representation of ancient thinkers is possible through knowledge. For Socrates, knowledge is divine in its origins and status. The task of a man is to obtain this knowledge through understanding the universals. The degree and depth of this understanding, the natural predisposition to comprehend the basics and the beginning of being become the basis and condition for a person to take a particular position in the organization of public space and ideas about the justice of this organization. Speaking about the specifics of the legal consciousness of the ancient era, V.S. Nersesyants writes: 'The degree of mastery of knowledge means a measure of people's involvement in the divine principles and, therefore, the level of justice and legality in public, political and private life' [3, p. 408].

For Plato, true education is a comprehension of the eternal disembodied world of eidos, which are the prototypes of all bodies, things and phenomena existing in the empirical world. The knowledge of this eternal world is accessible to a few chosen ones - only philosophers, and education worthy of a man, which can be called a truly higher education for representatives of the era of antiquity, is a philosophical education. For whom is it accessible and necessary?

In his works, Plato distinguishes three classes: rulers, guardians, artisans and landowners, which reflect the social structure of the ancient Greek polis. This structure is a hierarchical pyramid. At the top of the social pyramid there are rulers who are capable of understanding universals and organizing social life in accordance with them; below there are guards characterized by a certain spirituality, manifested in devotion to the state; at the base of this pyramid there is the bulk of the citizens - artisans and farmers, who, according to Plato, do not rise above material interests and are guided only by drives and sensuality.

Philosophical education is the prerogative of the governing estate. In his 'Laws' Plato writes that it is the philosophers who should be at the head of the state. The formation of a philosopher is a matter of almost the entire life. Philosophy 'is allowed to be studied only after reaching 30 years of age, when the mind has taken root in its orientation towards stability, maintaining the status quo and obedience to the teacher philosopher who transmits absolute truths distilled from the eternal world of ideas' [4, p. 51]. It is only by the age of fifty, that individuals who have received a philosophical education can begin to manage the state [5, p. 88]. The long term of the preparation of the philosopher ruler is determined by their responsibility for the organization of social life in the image and likeness of the cosmic world order, for establishing harmony and order in the state where the main valor should not be wealth and nobility, but wisdom, courage and justice.

The remaining two classes, according to Plato, must also be educated. In the 'Laws', he calls to educate all citizens, proclaiming the principle of universal compulsory education: 'One and all should receive education to the best of their ability'. Later in the 'State' he writes that only two classes should be trained: philosophers and guardians.

However, the core of the Plato's position on education has not changed. In his works he speaks about two types and levels of education: philosophical-theoretical and empirical. The former is necessary for the governing class in order to manage public life on reasonable, fair grounds; the latter for the rest of free citizens, so that they could navigate in the empirically perceived reality and learn to obey the laws of social structure. Plato believed that it was not possible to find a philosopher in the crowd. The most important thing is that the crowd doesn't need a philosophical education.

Education for the slaves was out of the question, since they were not given the status of people.

Similar views on education are expressed by Aristotle. Claiming that all people naturally aspire to knowledge, he divides all sciences into two groups - philosophy, the science of 'certain causes and principles', which is the highest form of cognition, and all others which deal with cognizing empirically observed things. A person Engaged in philosophy, 'knows everything, although he does not have knowledge of each subject individually'; 'he is capable of knowing complicated ideas that are difficult to comprehend for a person [after all, perception by feelings is common to everyone, and therefore it is easy and there is nothing wise in this)' [6, p. 68].

If all sciences are studied for the sake of a pragmatic goal lying outside of it, then the goal of studying philosophy is in philosophy itself. Philosophical knowledge is a continuous, endless path of self-creation of a person, their approach to the eternal and perfect cosmic Mind and thereby gaining higher pleasure and happiness.

For Plato, studies of philosophy are necessary, first of all, for a rational arrangement of social reality, while Aristotle is more interested in issues of self-improvement and the welfare of an individual. The purpose of the philosopher is to become a mentor for those who are less advanced on this path. 'A wise man should not receive instruction, but instruct, and this is not he, who should not obey another, but he who is less wise' [6, p. 68].

Only he, who is free and freed from the necessity to earn one's living, can be successful in studying philosophy, since philosophical studies are a process that lasts a lifetime.

Of course, the possibility of continuous study of philosophy is available only to a very wealthy slave owner. Aristotle does not at all exclude this possibility for less affluent people engaged in physical labor, saying that people can do fine and be virtuous even with moderate wealth. Nevertheless, quite rightly, he believes that the work that is performed for a fee 'deprives people of the necessary leisure and belittles them' [7, p. 629].

As we see, both Plato and Aristotle speak of the right to education in accordance with the ideal image of a man belonging only to large slave owners. How fair is this from the point of view of great thinkers?

The understanding of the issue of justice in the field of law takes place within the framework of natural law.

For Plato, justice consists in 'the fact that each beginning (each social class, each member of the state) should go about their business and not interfere in other people's affairs. In addition, according to Plato, justice requires the corresponding hierarchical subordination in the name of the whole. Thus, characterizing justice in an ideal state, Plato writes: 'it will probably be justice if everyone minds his own business'; 'justice consists in the fact that everyone has his own purpose and also fulfills his own purpose' [8, p. 205-206]. Justice, according to Plato, also consists in 'not taking possession of something which doesn't belong to you and not being deprived of something that belongs to you' [8, p. 206].

Justice, according to Plato, implies a 'proper measure', certain equality. He distinguishes between two types of equality: 'geometric equality' (equality in virtue and features) and 'arithmetic equality' ('equality of measure, weight and number'). 'Geometric equality' is 'the most true and best equality': 'it pays more attention to bigger things and ideas and less attention to smaller things, which is proportional to their nature' [9, p. 208]. For Plato, the right to education lies precisely within the framework of 'geometric equality'.

Aristotle distinguishes distributive justice and equalizing justice.

'Distributive justice is a manifestation of justice in the distribution of everything that can be shared between members of society (power, honor, payments, etc.). Here it is possible both equal and unequal endowment of various persons with the corresponding benefits' [3, p. 413].

'Equalizing justice acts in the sphere of exchange and 'manifests itself in equalizing everything that constitutes the subject of exchange' [3, p. 413]. This type of justice is applied in the field of civil transactions, compensation for harm, crime and punishment' [3, p. 413].

It is quite obvious that the field of educational activity is the sphere of operation of distributive justice.

As a result of studying the views of ancient philosophers on the problems of the right to education, we came to the following conclusions.

The highest, most worthy for a person education for both Plato and Aristotle is a philosophical education.

The purpose of philosophy, its irreplaceable specificity, is in understanding the world as a whole. Such an understanding helps to understand the laws of the world development, the basis and prospects of the formation of any particular, special phenomenon. Thus, the boundaries of the human 'Self' widen infinitely, embracing the entire universe, in contrast to the space of the individual, limited by a flat picture of empirically observed reality.

For Plato, philosophical education has as its immediate goal a rational, harmonious structure of human life, as harmonious as the structure of the world, of the cosmos. For Aristotle, it is the path to the personal happiness, understood not as the continuous enjoyment of things, food, travel, etc., characteristic of our contemporaries, but as a state of conformity, likening to a beautiful cosmos as a result of continuous selfless self-improvement of a person.

In the view of ancient thinkers, the possibility of philosophical reflection on reality is a huge privilege, the right to which belongs only to a few select people - slave owners, spared of the need to work for a fee and be engaged in physical labor. This state of affairs for both Plato and Aristotle seems very fair and corresponds to the laws of the cosmos. The views of ancient thinkers on justice in the field of education are explained by natural and social prerequisites - the structure of available social reality and, thus, the act as its reflection.

The relevance of the views of the philosophers of antiquity for today is associated with an understanding of the highest status of philosophy. The inalienable right of any developing person is the right to form a space of the individual, commensurate with the space of the whole, providing the ability to correlate itself with this whole, to comprehend its own existence in its context. Only a complete philosophical education is the basis for the realization of this right.

As stated in the Message of the President of the International Federation of Philosophical Societies Luke Maria Scarantino, dedicated to the celebration of World Philosophy Day in 2019, it is philosophy that allows us to understand the social and cultural complexity of our world. It gives us 'the opportunity to learn to feel being an integral part of a wider world than the one that directly surrounds us; try to approach human conflicts dialogically and understand the contradictions in their human and cultural complexity, and not in simplified one-sidedness' [10].

L.M. Scarantino notes that many of the leading countries of the world are currently investing significant resources in philosophical education and research. He especially notes 'the successful efforts of the Mexican philosophical community to include philosophical and gender education into the constitutional rights of their country' [10]. Thus, the right to philosophical education for the first time in the world history receives legislative basis.

In the modern world, the branch of law called educational law is rapidly developing. The author of the article is convinced that in the near future the right to philosophical education will receive the status of one of its most important issues.


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2. Gusseva, N.V. (1992). Kultura. Tsivilizatsiya. Obrazovaniye. [Culture. Civilization. Education.] - M.: Experttinform. 285 p.

3. Nersesyants, V.S. (1997), Filosofiya Prava. [The philosophy of law]. - M .: INFRA Publishing Group. M ' NORMA,' 652 p.

4. Butenko, N.A. (2016). Problemy Obrazovaniya i Vospitaniya v Uchenii Platona ob Idealnom Gossudarstve. [Problems of Education and Upbringing in the Teachings of Plato on an Ideal State].Innovation science. '5-3 (17). - pp. 51-53.

5. Bessonova, L. A. (2015). Kategoriya 'Spracedlivost' v Uchenii Platona o Gossudarstve. [The Category of 'Justice' in the Teachings of Plato on the State].Bulletin of Economics, Law and Sociology. No. 1, pp. 86-89.

6. Aristotle. (1976). Sochineniya. [Compositions], in 4 vols. V. 1. - M .: Mysl. 550 p.

7. Aristotle. (1984). Sochineniya. [Compositions]. In 4 vols.V.4. - M.: Mysl, 830 p.

8. Plato. Collected works in 4 vols T.1. - M.: Thought, 1994 - 654 p.

9. Plato. (1994). Sobraniye Sochinenii v 4 tomakh. [Collected works in 4 vols]. V. 4. - M .: Mysl, 830 p.

10. Scarantino, L.M. To all Member Societies, Associations, and Institutes of FISP.

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №11 - 2019

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