Difference Between Philosophy and Education

Philosophy vs Education

Philosophy and education can be viewed as two disciplines between which certain differences can be identified. Philosophy refers to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and the existence. Education refers to the process of acculturating individuals into the society. This highlights that the focus of education and philosophy is not identical. However, in philosophy a specific branch considered as the philosophy of education pays attention to the concepts, values, aims and problems in education in a holistic manner. Through this article let us examine the differences between philosophy and education.

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy can be defined as the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and the existence. Socrates, Plato, Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descartes can be considered as some of the very famous philosophers of the West. When speaking of philosophy, philosophers question the varied phenomena of the world. This can be of the society, of the nature of people, of knowledge or even of the very concept of the universe. Philosophy consists of sub-disciplines such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and also esthetics.

Philosophy is often categorized as Western philosophy and Eastern philosophy. Western philosophy dates back to the sixth century in Greece. Thales of Miletus is often considered as the first philosopher. The development of philosophy from this point rapidly increased during the fifth century with the ideas of Socrates and Plato. The development of ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and political philosophy occurred during this period. It was in the seventeenth century along with the advances in science and technology that modern philosophy was created. This was considered the age of enlightenment and broke away from the existing system of beliefs that was dominated by the religion towards a more rational empiricist path.

Difference Between Philosophy and Education

What is Education?

Education, on the other hand, is more focused on the transmission of knowledge to the younger generations rather than questioning the laws of existence, reality, etc. and the production of new knowledge. When speaking of education, it is often believed that education performs two functions, namely conservative function and the creative function. The conservative function of education is the transmission of knowledge to the younger generations, which can also be considered as a form of conformity. It socializes the child to the culture of a society. The creative function includes developing the cognitive skills of the individual so that he will think outside of the box. This can be viewed as a promotion of social change. In this sense, the two functions of education in molding the child are almost oppositional.

Education occurs not only within the premises of the school and other formal educational institutions, but also through various social agents, sometimes consciously and even unconsciously. The family and religion can be considered as two such social institutions. Education allows the individual to develop one’s faculties and also become acculturated. In different societies, education can mean different things. For example, in a hunting and gathering society, what is considered as education is very much different to the modern education. This highlights that education can be context bound.

Philosophy  vs Education

This highlights that education is quite different from philosophy although there is a specific branch is called the philosophy of education that merges the two together.

What is the difference between Philosophy and Education?

• Focus of Philosophy and Education:

• Philosophy focuses on the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence.

• Education focuses on the transmission of knowledge to the younger generations.

• Method of Functioning:

• Philosophers question the varied phenomena of the world in order to understand reality.

• However, education does not engage in such a procedure. Instead, it transmits knowledge and develops individual personalities.

• Philosophy and Education:

• Philosophy attempts to value the objectives, goals, issues and conceptual frameworks of education in a specific branch referred to as the philosophy of education.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Raphael’s School of Athens via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Lecture at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, CTU, in Prague by VIC CVUT (CC BY 3.0)