An analysis of the philosophical and educational principles of the New Age Movement

Stephen Donald Oates, Marquette University

Abstract

Proponents of the New Age Movement believe Western culture is ripe for a "paradigm shift"; a change in the way humankind views the world and educates for future generations. New Age philosophers, scientists, politicians, educators and occultists believe that humankind needs to view the world holistically, realizing that humanity is a physical/spiritual synthesis with objective and subjective knowledge and methods of knowing possessing equal value. New Agers believe the Earth is in danger of self-destruction: either by nuclear holocaust or by pollution of the environment. It is believed necessary for personal and social transformation in attitudes and actions to occur where humankind cooperates (instead of competes) with nature to heal society and the world. The purposes and methods of this analysis have been twofold: (1) To define as clearly as possible the underlying philosophy of the New Age Movement; and (2) To identify the educational implications of the New Age Movement in terms of their derivation from the principles of a holistic interconnectedness of all things. A survey of the writings of those connected with the New Age Movement identified elements for a philosophy of education which was a holistic synthesis of East and West. Implications of the proposed "paradigm shift" were considered in light of the meaning and restrictions of the "establishment" and "free exercise" clauses of the First Amendment. It has been determined that because many New Age beliefs are derived from Eastern religions, application of them in public education would violate the First Amendment, unless the Supreme Court changes the definition of what constitutes "religion." The New Age Movement is not "new" because its idealistic, existential and monadistic elements have existed since ancient India, China and Greece; ideals which were later expressed in American Transcendentalism and Theosophy. The implications of New Age holism are both positive and negative for American society and education. The positive implications are the attempts to bring spiritual values and morals back into public education. However, the major negative implication is that it presents a paradigm which is anathema to the traditional religious beliefs which have been the basis of Western culture.

Recommended Citation

Stephen Donald Oates, "An analysis of the philosophical and educational principles of the New Age Movement" (January 1, 1989). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8925419.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8925419

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