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Alistair Miller’s book, A New Vision of Liberal Education, is a dilation of his doctoral thesis, but it is enormously ambitious in aim: “My specific aim in this book is to explore whether aspects of the two traditions [of Enlightenment and Aristotelian ethics] might be synthesised in the concrete form of a liberal-humanist education” (NVLE, 11). Indeed, the arc of Miller’s argument ranges from these contrasting traditions of moral philosophy, through alternate versions of liberal education, to a proposal for curricular content. The book is well researched and proceeds dialectically, as Miller sifts through scholarship on liberal education, moral education, and curricula, oscillating between exploratory analysis and prescription. With an abundance of arguments, Miller’s “new vision” emerges from a series of intellectual hybridizations. The overarching motivation for Miller, however, is to describe an educational vision that is “liberal” and yet embraces the goodness of ordinary experience — “the unexamined life” — and thereby to reject the presump- tion that human flourishing requires a philosophical or intellectual life. Whether his hybrid vision is conceptually stable; whether and how his vision is “new”; whether the exploration succeeds in its ambitions — all issues I will discuss — Miller advances a serious and provocative set of proposals for educational theory and practice. [excerpt]



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