Social Context of Values
September 11 -
November 10, 1984
values in education has developed rapidly in the last
decade. Following a period in which people looked upon
science as value-free and had confidence that it could
solve all human problems, new sensibilities have
developed. More attention is given now to the person as
free and responsible and to the life of communities as
reflecting their cultures, their rich experience and
their deep commitments. This, along with serious
problems of social life in society and hence in
education, has generated new concern for the moral
dimension of education and character development.
All of this
generated an urgent need for an integrating
understanding of the person and his or her growth and
development. In response, The Council for Research in
Values and Philosophy (RVP) designed and implemented a
three level approach focusing successively on the
philosophical, psychological and pedagogical foundations
of moral education and character development.
In discussions of
the above work with scholars from other continents it
was pointed out, particularly by those in education in
Latin America, that these studies focused upon personal
growth. Its possibilities, difficulties and modalities,
however, are affected fundamentally by the historical
dynamics of the community which shape one's life. Hence,
the above philosophical, psychological and educational
studies needed to be continued in an explicit study of
the ways in which society, in its strengths and
weaknesses, is fundamental to the educational project.
team consisting largely of Latin American scholars
carried out the present cooperative study. This
approaches personal life as lived in community, through
time, and thereby creating social life, history and
culture. Education works with concrete persons and
peoples as born into a history and culture which gives
them their special capability for moral interaction.
Thus, a hermeneutics or interpretation is basic for an
education which would draw upon the values of a heritage
and enable these to be shaped wisely in circumstances of
great social change and hence psychological tension.
This work is presented here under the title: The
Social Context of Values: Perspectives of the Americas.
Part I on
"Hermeneutics and the Socio-Historical Context of
Values" first studies time, and hence the essentially
historical character of the human person. This locates
one in society, not as an external environment, but as
one's source and destiny.
In this light,
what the community has chosen in the past, how it has
formed a pattern of values which constitutes its
culture, and how it has ordered--and disordered--the
structures of relations between persons and groups
becomes a basic point of departure for learning
appropriate moral relations and developing the capacity
to take on the responsibilities of a moral life. To be
able to look attentively at the pattern of values which
makes human life possible for those growing up in a
community and which shapes their destiny, Chapter II
looks to hermeneutics.
This is seen both
as interpretation of culture and as its critique, for
through times of change tradition must be a liberating
resource, rather than a set of chains holding a people
to outmoded or possibly even exploitive structures.
Hence, chapter II opens the way for attention to social
analysis (Chapter III) and depth psychology (Chapter
IV). Both are required in order to understand the
external structures and the implied internal dynamics
within which we shape our moral choices and build our
relations to others.
foundations Part II, "Value Horizons and Liberation in
Society," is able to look at some of the factors in the
dynamics of contemporary social change under the
modernizing influence of a technological rationalization
of life (Chapter V). To respond creatively it is
necessary to bring to new awareness an aesthetic
striving for purpose, harmony and beauty in our life
(Chapter VI). In turn, the grounds for this must be
found in our histories as peoples and persons, that is,
in our families and communities. These must be
understood then, not as means for production or
consumption, but as expression of human transcendence
and hence of the Transcendent Itself (Chapter VII).
both the basis and the fulfillment of the search for
liberation at the heart of social life (Chapter VIII).
The search to
transform, humanize and thereby to deepen and enrich
social life is today the common heart of the search of
peoples, both young and old. This volume is part of that