Educational Philosophy and Theory 39 (5):543–558 (2007)

Derek Sankey
University of Sydney
If education is to make a difference it is widely acknowledged that we must aim to educate for understanding, but this means being clear about what we mean by understanding. This paper argues for a concept of personal understanding, recognising both the commonality and individuality of each pupil's understandings, and the relationship between understanding and interpretation, analysis and synopsis, and the quest for meaning. In supporting this view, the paper advocates an emergentist notion of person‐hood, and considers the neurophysiological reasons for asserting the individuality of human minds, brains, and the creation of personal meanings. The notion of personal meanings would, however, seem to run counter to the post‐modern denial of the autonomous self, and the tradition in philosophy, most recently stemming from Wittgenstein, that insists that meanings and understandings are essentially social, and not personal—a view also advocated by John White in regard to education. In contrast, this paper argues that meanings and understandings are both social and personal. Once we reinstate the notion of personal minds and personal understandings, alongside the social, we may see more clearly what it means to educate for understanding, and why this might begin to make a difference
Keywords hermeneutics  post‐modern self  meaning  personhood  neuronal individuality  understanding
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2007.00248.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 56,060
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Hutchinson & Co.
Personal Knowledge.Michael Polanyi - 1958 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Sankey's Personal Understanding.Jim Mackenzie - 2011 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (9):943-959.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Minds, Brains And People.Terence E. Wilkerson - 1974 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press.
Brains.Eric Olson - 2007 - In Eric T. Olson (ed.), What Are We? Oxford University Press.
Neural Machinery and Realization.Thomas W. Polger - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (5):997-1006.
Of Bats, Brains, and Minds.Christopher S. Hill - 1977 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (September):100-106.
Sankey's Personal Understanding.Jim Mackenzie - 2011 - Educational Philosophy and Theory 43 (9):943-959.


Added to PP index

Total views
13 ( #712,105 of 2,403,706 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #550,229 of 2,403,706 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes