Fusing Philosophy and Fieldwork in a Study of Being a Person in the World: An Interim Commentary

Studies in Philosophy and Education 34 (2):159-170 (2014)
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Abstract

In this article, we describe a longitudinal inquiry into what it means to be a person in our contemporary world. Our method constitutes a dynamic, non-objectifying fusion of empirical and philosophical anthropology. Field-based anthropology examines actualities: how people lead their lives and talk about them. Philosophical anthropology addresses possibilities: who and what people could become in light of actualities while not being determined by them. We describe and illustrate our fieldwork in the classrooms of 16 teachers who work in New York City public schools. We have sought in our observations to identify and think about signs or expressions of persons-in-the-making. We also touch on a series of dinner-discussions we have held with the teachers. These meetings have centered on the question of becoming a person in today’s political and cultural environment, and how education figures into the equation. Finally, we also describe the weekly meetings we have held as a research team, in which we engage the play of concepts and percepts. We close with remarks on the conceptual and existential ties that can link philosophy and fieldwork in schools

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