Public Instruction and Ideology
Tracy had argued in 1798 that legislators and rulers were the true teachers of humanity, and that a sound moral instruction was dependent on a proper framework of legislation and administration.1 It was necessary, however, that these authorities should be suitably enlightened in their actions: “truth is the sole road to well-being”, and truth consisted in a knowledge of the laws of our own nature and those governing our environment.2 The élitist character of the educational writings of Tracy and other idéologues arose partly from their environmental determinism and partly from their scientism. Progress could be achieved by modifying the institutional environment which conditioned the people’s actions and beliefs; but only an élite equipped with scientific knowledge of man and the social environment could intervene in a decisive manner to control the direction of social change.
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