Wrestling with the Modern State
Cover of issue 41.2
Requires Subscription PDF

How to Cite

Wrestling with the Modern State: Christopher Dawson and the Background to The Crisis of Western Education. (2017). The Political Science Reviewer, 41(2), 243-275. https://politicalsciencereviewer.wisc.edu/index.php/psr/article/view/25


In 1961 Christopher Dawson published The Crisis of Western Education to promote the study of Christian culture in Western Universities, especially religiously affiliated institutions, as the means of revitalizing Western civilization. Crisis outlined the history of Western education and the need for its revival in a form different than a pragmatic secular approach, a classical humanist approach, a “Great Books” approach, or a Thomistic-philosophical approach, each of which competed for influence in educational circles after World War II. Dawson confronted the relation of the secular state to education, claiming that “universal education,” promoted by the modern state, was “very largely responsible” for the “secularization of modern culture.” He insisted that Christianity and secularism “are inevitably and in every field irreconcilable with one another.” He hoped that his program, if implemented in universities, would influence primary and secondary education by producing well-informed teachers who would teach young students their cultural heritage. Dawson noted that the “vital problem of Christian education is a sociological one: how to make students culturally conscious of their religion; otherwise they will be divided personalities—with a Christian faith and a pagan culture which contradict one another continually.” The crisis of modern education was both political and cultural.

Requires Subscription PDF