William Ralph Inge? William S. Burroughs? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement has been attributed to two very different people: William Ralph Inge and William S. Burroughs:
The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.
Inge was a professor at Cambridge and Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Burroughs was a member of the Beat Generation best known for authoring “Naked Lunch”. Should either of these figures receive credit for this remark?
Quote Investigator: In 1917 the collection “Cambridge Essays on Education” appeared. Inge wrote a piece titled “The Training of the Reason” which included the following passage. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
The ideal object of education is that we should learn all that it concerns us to know, in order that thereby we may become all that it concerns us to be. In other words, the aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values. Values are facts apprehended in their relation to each other, and to ourselves. The wise man is he who knows the relative values of things. In this knowledge, and in the use made of it, is summed up the whole conduct of life.
William S. Burroughs was born in 1914; hence, he clearly did not coin this expression. He died in 1997, and he implausibly received credit in 2005 as indicated further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.