Dissertation, Stockholm University (2020)

Abstract
What if education were not about becoming something, making something of yourself, becoming some thing? What if we were to consider education as becoming-world? These questions are posed against the background of the current populist nationalist backlash against the consequences of globalization, along with growing anti-intellectualism and anti-democratic sentiment. How can education contribute locally and globally to fostering and safeguarding the very possibility of democratic practices against the neoliberal consecration of reified social relations? Becoming Things, Becoming-world contributes to contemporary discussions in philosophy of education by developing a vision of a critical educational cosmopolitanism founded upon a renewed critique of reification. While cosmopolitan education has often been articulated in terms of an ethical and political response to globalization, this thesis proposes a different outlook. I argue that the idea of cosmopolitan education predates the onset of what we now term globalization, and that it provides a meaningful conception of education beyond the present socio-political condition. Moreover, I propose to rethink cosmopolitan education as a critique of reification, i.e. a critique of social relations taking on the character of mere things. The critique of reification helps to foreground aspects that have previously been neglected and marginalized in educational cosmopolitanism, such as its economic-material dimensions. At the same time, a critical cosmopolitan perspective is needed for a timely de-centering of critical social theory. Re-assessing the Cynic tradition and drawing on critical theorists such as Gerard Delanty and Axel Honneth as well as on New Wittgensteinian philosophers as Alice Crary, I advance a post-universalist understanding of cosmopolitanism. This is based on dynamic social relations and a broad understanding of rationality which includes imaginary aspects as well as the education of our sensitivities. Cosmopolitanism is understood as a lived practice which critically challenges reified social and cultural relations, including the strictures of particular socio-economic structures. The notion of reification is distinguished from other forms of alienation, objectification and instrumentalization and is deployed to characterize lasting distortions of our relations to each other, to the world and to ourselves. Against any idealizing take on communicative practice, I show that language, knowledge, and education do not necessarily counter-act reifying tendencies. Indeed, they themselves can become sources for enhancing processes of reification. A fresh look at the critique of reification allows us adequately to describe and understand the interrelation between contemporary capitalism, the forms of subjectivity it produces and the possibilities of democratic education and education towards democracy. Such an understanding is needed in face of the apparent impossibility of imagining a society, and envisioning an education, beyond the conditions formulated by contemporary neoliberal policies. Education as becoming-world maintains a hopeful outlook on the possibilities of our globalizing and pluralizing social reality as well as a keen focus on the tensions and challenges that this poses for contemporary educational endeavors on individual as well as structural levels.
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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.

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