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The Crisis of Western Education (The Works of Christopher Dawson)

Christopher Dawson, Glenn W. Olsen

Publication Year: 2012

The Crisis of Western Education, originally published in 1961, served as a capstone of Christopher Dawson's thought on the Western educational system.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press

Series: The works of Christopher Dawson


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xx

Christopher Dawson (1889–1970) was of such reputation that when Harvard University established the Chauncey Stillman Chair of Roman Catholic studies, he was chosen as its first occupant (1958–62). Before teaching at Harvard, Dawson, an English convert to Catholicism, had not previously visited the united states. a mature scholar in his sixties, ...


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pp. xxi-23

Part I. The History of Liberal Education in the West

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pp. 1-25

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I. The Origins of the Western Tradition of Education

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pp. 3-10

Culture, as its name denotes, is an artificial product. it is like a city that has been built up laboriously by the work of successive generations, not a jungle which has grown up spontaneously by the blind pressure of natural forces. it is the essence of culture that it is communicated and acquired, and although it is inherited by one generation from another, it is a social not a biological inheritance, a ...

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II. The Age of the Universities and the Rise of Vernacular Culture

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pp. 11-20

Throughout the early middle ages Western education followed the lines that had been laid down in the last period of the roman empire. it was based on Latin grammar, on the study of the Latin classics, the Latin fathers and the Bible and the Liturgy. it was therefore a specifically clerical education which was normally confined to the monastic and cathedral schools, although it might also be found in ...

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III. The Age of Humanism

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pp. 21-32

The higher culture of modern Europe, and of America also, has been formed by the educational tradition that had its roots in the Italian Renaissance. it was a tradition that had its center not so much in the universities, which long retained their medieval character, but rather in the academies and the learned societies, in the Jesuit colleges and the english public schools. Today this tradition has ...

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IV. The Influence of Science and Technology

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pp. 33-45

The most striking feature in the educational development which we have surveyed in the last three chapters has been its extraordinary unity. Throughout the whole period from the fourth to the seventeenth century it was dominated consistently by the two great traditions of Christianity and classical culture, and though there were great changes in emphasis and in method and in content, the two ...

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V. Nationalism and the Education of the People

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pp. 46-53

While the enlightenment and the revolution were proceeding triumphantly the humbler work of popular education was following an almost independent line of development. as Voltaire wrote, “We have never claimed to enlighten shoemakers and servant girls, they are the portion of the apostles.” and in fact, until far on into the nineteenth cen-...

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VI. The Development of the Amerian Educational Tradition

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pp. 54-67

The American tradition of education was originally derived from Great Britain and had little in common with the centralized, state-controlled systems of education which had been characteristic of continental Europe since the eighteenth century. For almost two hundred years it has developed freely on its own lines, so that it has created a new tradition which differs in many respects from either ...

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VII. Catholic Education and Culture in America

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pp. 68-76

We have seen how the American educational system represents the culmination of the age-long development of Western education which has now become universal in scope and worldwide in its influence. it rivals the educational system of the soviet union in offering scientific and technological instruction to the members of the new nationalities and of the more backward cultures from indonesia to ...

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VIII. Education and the State

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pp. 77-88

...anyone who surveys the literature of modern education cannot help feeling discouraged by the thought of the immense amount of time and labor which has been expended with so little apparent fruit. Yet we must not forget that behind this smoke-screen of blue-books and hand-books great forces are at work which have changed the lives and thoughts of men more effectively than the ...

Part II. The Situation of Christian Education in the Modern World

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pp. 89-113

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IX. The Study of Wesern Culture

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pp. 91-98

...one of the chief defects of modern education has been its failure to find an adequate method for the study of our own civilization. The old humanist education taught all that it knew about the civilization of ancient Greece and rome, and taught little else. in the nineteenth century, this aristocratic and humanist ideal was gradually replaced by the democratic utilitarianism of compulsory state edu-...

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X. The Case for the Study of Christian Culture

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pp. 99-110

...at first sight it may seem surprising that there is any need for the discussion of Christian culture study, at least among Catholic educationalists, for one would have expected that the whole question would have been thrashed out years ago and there was no longer room for any difference of opinion. But as a matter of fact this is far from being the case, and the more one looks into the subject, the ...

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XI. The Study of Christian Culture in the Catholic College

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pp. 111-119

The study of christian culture as described in Chapter X offers a new approach to the three great problems that confront Western education at the present time: first, how to maintain the tradition of liberal education against the growing pressure of scientific specialization and utilitarian vocationalism; secondly, how to retain the unity of Western culture against the dissolvent forces of nationalism ...

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XII. The Theological Foundations of Christian Culture

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pp. 120-126

...during the last two centuries we have all been taught to think in terms of the nation-state. That has been the real work-completely nationalized and has been directed to the study of national But today this social unity is losing its importance. The nation-state as we knew it in the nineteenth century is being dwarfed or swallowed up by the increasing strain of world war and the increasing pressure of ...

Part III. Western Man and the Technological Order

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pp. 127-151

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XIII. The Religious Vaccum in Modern Culture

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pp. 129-137

The predicament in which the world finds itself today is due essentially to two factors: first to the acute secularization of Western culture and secondly to the revolt of the rest of the world against it. for more than two centuries Western civilization has been losing contact with the religious traditions on which it was originally founded and devoting all its energies to the conquest and organization ...

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XIV. American Culture and the Liberal Ideology

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pp. 138-144

...in the previous chapter i have discussed the predicament of the modern Western world—a world which has been increasingly detached from its spiritual roots in Christian culture but which has at the same time advanced in material and scientific power, so that it has extended its influence over the rest of the world until it has cre-ated a cosmopolitan technological world order. But this world order ...

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XV. Western Man and the Technological Order

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pp. 145-158

This is the age of frankenstein, the hero who created a mechanical monster and then found it had got out of control and threatened his own existence. frankenstein represents our age even more truly than faust represented the age of Goethe and the romantics. Western man has created the technological order, but he has not discovered how to control it. it is beginning to control him, and if it ...

Index of Subjects

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pp. 159-164

Index of Names

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pp. 165-191

Production Notes

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pp. 192-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780813217581
E-ISBN-10: 081321758X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813216836
Print-ISBN-10: 0813216834

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The works of Christopher Dawson