Voices of Silence in Pedagogy: Art, Writing and Self-Encounter


Correspondence: Angelo Caranfa, 27 Sprague Avenue, Brockton, MA 02302, USA.
Email: acaranfa@netscape.net


This article draws on the conclusion of the Commission on the Humanities in The Humanities in American Life that the aim of a liberal arts education is to foster critical reasoning through the use of language or discourse. This paper maintains that the critical method is in itself insufficient to achieve its purpose. Its failure is in its exclusion of feeling and of silence from the thinking process. Hence, the ultimate object of my analysis is to correct and to complement the critical method with the aesthetic method of teaching the humanities. Central to the aesthetic method is art as a means to cultivate contemplative and creative skills. The essay brings out and examines the value of art as voices of silence in Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Dionysius, Bonaventure, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Paul Gauguin, and pays particular attention to the diaries of Eugène Delacroix. In the course of doing so, I shall be trying to make clear that art teaches us how to listen and how to encounter ourselves totally and completely. It goes on to suggest several pedagogical principles or consequences that flow from this aesthetic pedagogy.