Philosopher discusses theories on religion, education

Distinguished philosopher, Larry A. Hickman presented two lectures March 14 and 15 focusing on late American philosopher John Dewey’s written work and ideals as part of a lecture series.

The first lecture, titled “Secularism, Secularization and John Dewey: Post Modernism without Nihilism,” presented Hickman’s argument that Dewey’s philosophy of religion regulates discussion of religious issues, such as humanist alternatives to supernaturalism and dogmatism.

“A vast point throughout the lecture of the first night was that there is a very important distinction between secularism and secularization,” sophomore Ben Wilkinson said. “Secularism, as Hickman puts it, is a situation in which arguments that draw from religious or quasi-religious beliefs are grounded in humanistic understandings of the issue at hand.”

Hickman used that idea to discuss current religious views in America, citing that 60 percent of people believe in a personal God, 92 percent of people believe in some sort of God and 70 percent are absolutely sure of God’s existence.

“He claimed that religion had to give up its dogmatic stance and focus on how it can better the world at present,” junior Josh Bott said.

The second lecture, titled “Genuine Concepts in John Dewey’s Educational Philosophy,” focused on the use of Dewey’s thoughts on framing different political issues that affect education.

Hickman explained that to teach students well, teachers shouldn’t simply give facts and knowledge.

“Education is not simply the transfer of knowledge,” he said.

Sophomore Lynette Cole said she found that the lecture material correlated with her personal philosophy on education.

“I completely agreed with what the speaker was saying as John Dewey was focused on experiential learning, which I also believe to be the best way to teach children,” Cole said.

Sophomore Helena Frueh said she thought the lecture was an insightful look into what she has previously learned in classes such as developmental psychology.

“I agreed with some of his points that opposed some classical views about how children learn,” Frueh said. “He brought up some points that I had never thought of before in regard to how we should educate our children.”

Hickman is a director for the Center for Dewey Studies at Southern Illinois University.

The lecture series marked the 40th year that the Department of Philosophy has hosted well-known philosophers at Linfield as part of its annual Walter Powell Linfield College Philosophy Lecture series.

Brittany Baker/Staff writer
Brittany Baker can be reached at

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