The figure of Socrates and its significance for liberal education in Asia

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von Heyking, John
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Association of Cambridge Studies
This essay contributes to the ongoing debate concerning the value of liberal education in East Asia, and how well Western models of liberal education fit with East Asian cultures. It addresses the inadequacy of the two main arguments presented in these debates: 1) utility, whether liberal education provides critical thinking skills to help East Asian countries “catch up” to the West and 2) whether Western liberal education carries with it individualism that is incompatible with East Asian culture. In response to these arguments, this essay considers the figure of Socrates as a transpolitical figure, and a way of considering the place of liberal education in East Asia. Socratic freedom as the ideal of liberal education presents intractable challenges to all political regimes and cultures because it aims higher than their goals and aims. Therefore those interested in liberal education and those responsible for administering institutions where liberal education gets taught need to be attentive to the difference between Socratic freedom and the varying degrees of freedom their respective political societies permit.
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Socrates , Asia , Liberal education , Politics , Freedom , Socratic freedom , Political freedom , East Asian culture
von Heyking, J. (2018). The figure of Socrates and its significance for liberal education in Asia. Cambridge Journal of China Studies, 13(1), 1-22.