‘Learning to Be Human’: The Paradigm of Oakeshott’s Epistemology and Islamic Theory of Knowledge


  • Muhammad Iqbal Shah Professor of Philosophy, Government Islamia Graduate College, Chiniot/Doctoral Candidate, Department of Philosophy, University of the Punjab, Lahore
  • Dr. Ali RazaTahir Associate Head, School of Religion & Philosophy, Minhaj University, Lahore




Conversation, Epistemology, Humanity, Learning, Modes, Morality


Michael Oakeshott’s epistemology revolves around the concept of Modes of the understanding of the meanings of the world. These meanings had been mediated by our forefathers and had been descended to us through generation to generations. The whole of these meanings is the common capital for all human beings irrespective of terrestrial affiliation or adherence to any theology or association to any race. Without learning the meanings, we are just a bipod specie or Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens but not ‘Beings Human’. Thus he founded his epistemology on concept of ‘learning to be human’ and he made a difference between a ‘human being’ and ‘being human’.  Islamic teachings also support Oakeshott’s ideas regarding, Epistemology, Theory of Knowledge and educational Philosophy.


Michael Oakeshott, Experience and its Modes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). It was his PhD dissertation completed in 1933.

Oakeshott, Experience, 9.

Oakeshott, Experience, 27.

Oakeshott, Experience, 13.

Oakeshott, Experience, 34.

Michael Oakeshott, what is History and Other Essays, (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2004), 198.

Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1962), 199.

Oakeshott, what is History, 310.

Michael Oakeshott, The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education, (London: Yale University Press, 1989), 24.

Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, ed. M. Saeed Shaikh (Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture, 1986), 10.

Mirza Asad Ullah Khan Ghalib, Dewan e Ghalib (Lahore: Chaudhry Academy, Al Fazal Market, Urdu Bazar, 2010), 60.

Al Quran- Al Baqarh 2:31

Al Quran- Al Baqarh 2:33

Al Quran- Al Baqarh 2:34

Al Quran- Al Zumar 39:9

Al Quran- Al Furqan-25:44

Oakeshott, Experience, 84.

Oakeshott, Experience, 9-10.

Oakeshott, Experience, 27.

= Oakeshott, Experience, 34.

Oakeshott, The Voice of Poetry in the Conversation of Mankind, in Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1962), 198.

Oakeshott, Rationalism, 199.

Oakeshott, Rationalism,129.

Oakeshott, The Voice of Liberal Learning,59.

Oakeshott, The Voice, 33.

Oakeshott, Rationalism,199

Oakeshott, The Voice, 71.

http://dgmyers.blogspot.com/p/the-voice-of-liberal-learning-michael.html Timothy Fuller mentioned the heading in the above lecture.

“Learning to Be Human: Oakeshott on Education”, originally published in the American Scholar 59 (Autumn 1990): 626–28.

Oakeshott, The Voice,45

Oakeshott, The Voice,45

Oakeshott, "Education: The Engagement and its Frustration," in The Voice of Liberal Learning, 64.

Al Quran- Al Jumuah 62:2

Oakeshott, Rationalism,199.

Oakeshott, The Voice, 45.

Sunan Ibn Maja, Hadith no. 224.

Michael Oakeshott, "Learning and Teaching," in The Concept of Education, ed. R. S. Peters

(London: Routledge and Kagan Paul, 2010), 109.

Al-Alaq- 96:1, 5.

Oakeshott, The Voice of Liberal Learning, 23.

Oakeshott, The Voice, 21.

Oakeshott, The Voice, 47.

Al Quran Al-Zamur 39:9.