Paradigmatic Approach In Philosophy Of Education


The research deals with a problem of existence and development of educational paradigms in the history of European culture. Thus, Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the New and Modern times are original epochs that created within themselves original educational paradigms, corresponding to their historical specifics. They reproduced themselves through educational paradigms as stable cultural forms. According to the generally accepted division of history in the epochs mentioned above, the authors consider the educational paradigms corresponding to them intuitive-discursive , exegetical-apologetic , rational-experimental and existential-personological . The identified educational paradigms are determined by the duality of the methods used in them (intuition and discourse, exegesis and apology, experiment and rationality). The noted methods are related by a horizontal and vertical scale, demonstrating the continuity of historical methods of the social reality cognition. The authors can define this study as a theoretical analysis conducted on the basis of the history of philosophy and representing a peculiar philosophy of history. The modern education can be studied both in statics considering the forms and methods of its functioning, and in dynamics - carrying out a theoretical analysis of the process of its genetic development which allows one to address the actual problems of the modern education.

Keywords: PhilosophyEducationHistoryParadigmPedagogyKnowledge


The specificity of the philosophy of education as the interdisciplinary field of knowledge consists in combining theoretical and practical reflection. It justifies the space of possible scenarios for the development of educational problems expressing the point of view that is opened to possible interpretations. It should be noted that the comprehended past times is the basis for understanding contemporary events for the historical consciousness. The genetic determination of the present by the past, being invisible to the modern person, serves as a basis for designing and forecasting the future. Educational paradigms developed in the history fulfilled their task during the time allotted for them. Historically education has always served the tasks of social life preserving and developing. The educational paradigms that existed in the history of European philosophy and culture determined the tasks of educating and teaching a person in each specific epoch. They have their own traces in the current situation of the educational process. The appeal to the study of the educational paradigms’ origin, functioning and changing is caused by the fact that there is a need to transfer the available knowledge in the philosophy itself. It determines the continuity of the historical and philosophical process. It should be noted that philosophy acquired an independent character when it managed to find its own ways of maintaining and reproducing the tradition. The myth served for self-organization of an archaic society, structuring its "collective unconscious". Philosophy began with the installation of "personal consciousness" (the philosopher’s personal responsibility). Each philosopher is attached to the educational paradigm of his epoch becoming its carrier and at the same time developing it according to his abilities (Bogatyrev, Romanenko, 2016).

Problem Statement

The educational paradigm can be determined as a stable form of the cultural creativity and a specific "model for imitation" which is necessary for reproducing a concrete historical system of education and learning. The educational paradigm can also be defined as a model of setting educational tasks in a broad cultural and historical context which has an invariant content and direction against the background of changing historical conditions. In Plato’s dialogues, the term "paradeigma" means the prototype, the ideal pattern with the status of a true existing and generating model (Timaeus, 28 a-c). It is a well-known fact that the historical cycle forms its own problems of education and training of the individual. It discovers the methods and solutions corresponding to them. It determines the ways and means of sharing the knowledge, mastering the available skills and ability to apply them in practice.

In general, the fundamental antinomy between the intuitive and the discursive is immanently inherent in the culture. It also extends to education. That is why education will always be criticized by rationality (from the rational point of view). It is important to take into account the fact that the criticism should be immanent and constructive to the process itself and should not destroy the initial cycle. It should be noted that the rational criticism is admissible here from the point of view of searching for more effective and optimal methods of teaching the achieved knowledge in the concrete educational situations.

For the philosophy of education, the paradigmatic approach is essential. The concept of "paradigm" has acquired a clear and complete formulation in the philosophy of Plato. In the “Timaeus”, it is determined as a "generative model" through which things arise and exist. "The Demiurge among other things looks at the ever-existing and takes it as a prototype when creating the idea and properties of this thing" (Timaeus, 28a-b). The first image in this case acts as a paradigm. Plato makes one more clarification: "Having thus appeared cosmos was created according to the identical and unchanging pattern comprehensible through the reason” (Timaeus, 28c). The Platonic paradigm is treated as a generative model that has a conceivable and identical being, owing to which the meaning of the thing and its idea are fixed. They are combined into a single whole in the process of material embodiment.

Genesis as the function of generating the idea of a thing is a dialectical thought in Plato’s philosophy and is defined by A. Losev as continuous formation by infinite nodal points on the line of this formation (Losev, 1993). The generation itself is discussed in “Timaeus” as the activity of the mind that creates the world according to its laws. This activity has nothing common with the power action of the ideal mind on material things. Generation in this sense is interpreted as a creativity or creative power. And the mind in this sense is understood as the creator of everything (in “Timaeus” it is defined as a "master", "organizer", "creator", "father" etc). A. Losev clarifies that the result of this cosmic modeling is already the cosmos itself eternally alive and animated, extremely ordered and formed, although at the same time quite material and sensually perceived (Losev, 1993).

Research Questions

The paradigm means everything regular and semantic. Being a semantic derivation, it means only the possibility of realization but not the very implementation. The world can not be understood outside the regularities contained in it. But it should not be reduced only to them underestimating the factor of chance. The being contains ideal regularities, but it is not reduced to them having also an irrational remainder. The paradigm is connected with the expression of meaning. Therefore, the paradigmatic viewpoint is always internally idealistic. All the phenomena of ontologization of thought structures are unavoidable here and are not dangerous if one takes into consideration the specificity of the approach and the limitations connected with it.

One should also point out the inner tautology contained in the concept of the "educational paradigm". There is the meaning of "image" and "sample" (paradeigma is also a prototype) in both parts of this term. Therefore, the concept of the "educational paradigm" carries the sense of completeness and integrity inherent in the "world picture" where a person enters the world joining the tradition. It is a well-known fact that intellectual things are also observant but in their own way. The semantic and essential characteristics of the idea turn out to be visual and contemplative by the visible visions of the mind (speculation) (Goncharko, Romanenko, 2016). Thinking in its historical development proves and depicts the being through the deduction of categories. The philosopher is situated in the position of the observer of his own thought. Therefore, the paradigm is internally picturesque.

The meaning of this concept changes in neoplatonism, having obtained a link to the essential for the ancient ontology concept of "emanation". It means the departure of the essence into other being (otherness) and its transformation. In this case, the paradigm is transformed from the ideal for thinking into its internal certainty (Svetlov, 2013). The "paradigm" is perceived by the subsequent tradition in these meanings being interpreted as the historical horizon of thinking and its definiteness, which is perceived by the man as universal and unshakable but changeable with each new cultural epoch (Fraisopi, 2015). In the Medieval context, the paradigm is not something external for the man. A human being is understood as the image of God; therefore, he carries it within him (Jaeger, 1961; Shmonin, 2013). In the Russian religious philosophy, the paradigm turns out to be connected with the notion of Sophia. As a pure predetermination, it has the meaning of a "pattern" or an "ideal" directing the creative activity.

The positivistic use of this term as the characteristic of the normativity of scientific methodology limited its possibilities to the framework of the historical, scientific and epistemological approaches encapsulating in "brackets" its ontological meaning. One can find out two types of meanings in the modern literature. It is used as a characteristic of the relationship between the spiritual and the real as well as a scientific theory (model) accepted as a sample of the research problems solution. The popularization of the term "paradigm" in the positivist philosophy is associated with the name of T. Kuhn. In the book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" (1962), he introduces this term as a fundamental concept of sociology and historiography of science (Kuhn, 1962). T. Kuhn defines the paradigm as a unit of measuring the dynamics of scientific development, conceptual scheme, program, model of the problem formulation, ideological and theoretical structure that unites the community of scientists and fosters the formation of tradition as a system of rules and standards for scientific activity. Positive aspects of the T. Kuhn’s concept is connected with fact that he went beyond the frames of empiricism. He managed to analyze the dynamics of scientific knowledge. Then he defined the paradigm through the concept of a "disciplinary matrix" trying to bring an ontological ground for it. Nevertheless, the limited use of this concept by T. Kuhn is connected with the fact that he deprives it of the speculativeness inherent in the Plato’s dialectical and idealistic understanding of the world. He reduced it to a pure scheme. In general this limitation is explained by the fact that the paradigm in T. Kuhn concept is applied to the study of the natural science development which strive to give a strictly objective description of the reality. The subjective human factor is far from being paramount for natural sciences. The paradigmatic approach is not limited to those frameworks that T. Kuhn fixed in his works in relation to other types of human activities, including education and philosophy, which are directly addressed to a person. Unfortunately, T. Kuhn’s interpretation of paradigm has become widespread in the study of social sphere including pedagogy and education. It is possible to see attempts to examine the history and theory of education from this point of view. However, the lack of philosophical clarity of this issue appears to be a common limitation. All the proposed projects would remain only good recommendations reduced to the technical ordering of the private teaching methods without the solution of this problem.

Purpose of the Study

The main purpose study of the research is to present a paradigmatic approach to the study of the history and philosophy of education as a complex of methods of the social reality cognition that presupposes certain theoretical guidelines. Against this background, one may characterize the educational paradigms of the historical epochs. The creative and saving function of education is rooted in the depths of the human psyche and primarily in the capacity of memory (Osmon, 1976). This function was discovered by man at the stage of archaic myths and rituals which cultivated it in figurative and emotional forms. The ancient philosophy recultivated this ability in appropriate ways. It is enough to point out the Platonic concept of cognition as “anamnesis”. Historically the educational paradigm is developing gradually. It is difficult to judge about it adequately and categorically being in its becoming context. Because the processes taking place in it have not yet reached the necessary relief. It is easier to express the completed judgments about educational paradigms from the height of the years passed by when the certain historical forms came to the completion and integrity. At the same time, it is permissible to talk about the varying degree of integrity of the developing educational paradigm and about the different extent of its understanding. The fact is that the paradigm itself manifests itself in concrete teachings that turn out to be its own variations (Shipunova, 2014).

The educational energy of the age is objectified in the theories, principles and methods of learning transferred from teachers to students with the aim of organizing their cognitive activity. In this sense, the educational paradigm has its original ideality. Being a model, it does not only reflect the diverse processes of reality but it also influences the reality from the point of view of the feedback theory. It is through the principle of feedback theory or advanced reflection that the educational paradigm fulfills the function of the generating model. The word "generating" in this context is used as an essential metaphor. A person already being born as a biological being is born again through education appropriating the image of the cultural tradition, in which he is included.

Research Methods

The methods of dialectics, phenomenology, comparative, structural and typological analysis are used in the research. These methods allow generalizing and concretizing the subject area and giving a historical overview of the approaches to the problem. One can also predict possible situational reactions to the changes in the dynamic of the educational process according to this methodology. The completeness of the analysis and formalization of the obtained results is achieved by the derivation of semantic structures in the form of categorical schemes and methodological regulators that model the modern educational process. These methodological approaches include the key concepts and notions conceptually substantiated in the framework of the research - the educational paradigm, the paradigmatic approach, the paradigm principle etc., which make it possible to realize the phenomenological description of the educational process.

This study can be defined as a theoretical interpretation of the whole complex of educational values, principles, methods, ideas, techniques that have been formed in the history of philosophy in different epochs. All the materials, despite their thematic diversity (history, ontology, epistemology, methodology, ethics, pedagogy etc.), are analyzed in the framework of the paradigmatic approach to the history and philosophy of education. It presupposes the consideration of educational problems of the epoch in a combination with the socio-anthropological, metaphysical, epistemological, methodological concepts. The research has a comparative nature. It compares the European tradition and national experience of education.


At this part of the article, the authors want to pay attention to the principal research positions and conclusions. The formal and substantial, external and internal aspects of the concept of an "educational paradigm" are interrelated and interdependent. Therefore, for the aim of a holistic approach to the study of historical educational paradigms, the authors identified the main dialectically opposite points in them: intuition and discourse , exegesis and apology , rationality and experiment . These dialectically dual definitions of paradigms are sequentially connected in the general flow of human history, which forms a continuously emerging line with nodal points of measure (Garrera-Tolbert, 2015; Savin, 2015).

On the basis of this methodological positions, it seems possible to propose a historiosophic hypothesis about the existence of a single universal paradigm of the human education which manifests itself in the history in the concrete discoveries limited by the historical circumstances. Having originated in Antiquity, this paradigm has set a certain conceptual-worldview cycle which will subsequently be scrolled three times: in the Middle Ages, in the New and Modern times. There is a general accelerated enrichment of culture with each paradigmatic turnover. But, being together with this development, the degree of danger of its destruction increases.

1. The paradigmatic approach to the study of the history of education may be characterized as a complex of methods of the social reality cognition that presupposes the following theoretical intentions:

— the focus on the meaningful comprehension of the world: the requirement of concrete certainty in the depiction of social reality;

— the unification of a disparate variety into an integrated picture of the world;

— the consideration of theoretical constructions in the historical horizon;

— the comprehension of human existence from the point of view of the unity of two dialectically opposite moments: the reflection of the reality and its creative transformation in accordance with the "ideal model."

2. According to the generally accepted division of the history into the epochs of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the New and Modern Times (cosmocentrism, theocentrism and anthropocentrism), one can distinguished the educational paradigms corresponding to them: intuitive-discursive , exegetical-apologetic , rational-experimental and existential-personological .

3. The specificity of the ancient intuitive-discursive educational paradigm consists in the following positions: a) to adjust to an intuitive comprehension of the thing’s identity in the context of an integral cosmos; b) to teach the ability to describe discursively the unique experience of philosophical speculation. In this case, intuition is centripetal in its movement towards the immediate comprehension of the hidden essence. Discourse (on the contrary) is centrifugal. It is decayed into a chain of mediated ways of the essence cognition (Chernoglazov, Goncharko, 2016). The internal dynamics of cognition set by the dialectical correlation of these methods was reflected in the existing types of the ancient education: esoteric and exoteric.

4. The exegetical-apologetic paradigm of the Medieval education had the goal of harmonizing relations between the faith and reason. It was formed as a unity of two theological and philosophical methods - exegetics and apologetics, reproducing intuitive-discursive methodology in new historical conditions. Exegesis is described as the interpretation of the authoritative sacred text (the Bible). The understanding of the revealed truths is achieved by the person directly without proof precisely as a revelation in the act of mystical intuition. The communication of people about the content of faith implies mediation by speech and thought (Shmonin, 2011). Apologetics is a logical discourse which is used to prove and convince others in truth of faith.

5. Education in the New Age is inspired by the notions of the human mind power. It is filled with new content related to the demands of experimental science as the main mean of achieving practical truths. Science is freed from religious influence. Its aim is to organize an objective research and obtain the reliable knowledge. The objectives of the educational process are established in accordance with this theoretical setup.

6. The identified educational paradigms are determined by the duality of the methods used in them (intuition and discourse, exegesis and apology, experiment and rationality) expressing the sequence of the historical general flow in the form of a dialectical space-time structure of the emerging line with the nodal points of the measure. The noted methods are related by a horizontal and vertical scale, demonstrating the continuity of historical methods of the social reality cognition. On this basis, the authors can put forward a hypothesis about the reality of the existence of a universal paradigm for the formation of the human race, which is the basis of educational history.

7. Existentialism and personalism became the system-forming factors in the development of the modern educational paradigm as the leading philosophical trends of the twentieth century. The existence of a creative person becomes the highest value in the cultural context of modernity (Kuznetsov, Shipunova, 2015). A person is considered as a being that is constantly formed discovering and freely realizing his new abilities.


The types of modern educational strategies mentioned above (cosmism, technicalism, humanism, theism) are situated in complex, often dramatic, relationships among themselves. But nevertheless it seems that it is possible to establish a reasonable measure between them. It is not the relation of an unprincipled compromise that covers the isolation of these four types from each other. It should be noted that their active intersection and fruitful communication is possible within the framework of the emerging educational paradigm. The paradigmatic approach the authors have justified is the concretization of the historicism principle with reference to the cognition of the cultural reproduction processes. The study is a theoretical analysis conducted on the basis of the history of philosophy and representing a peculiar philosophy of history. It is concluded as a result that the modern education can be studied both in statics considering the forms and methods of its functioning and in dynamics carrying out a theoretical analysis of the process of its genetic development, which allows one to address the actual problems of the modern education.


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19 February 2018

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Romanenko, I. B., & Romanenko, Y. M. (2018). Paradigmatic Approach In Philosophy Of Education. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1108-1115). Future Academy.