Making Sense of Education provides a contemporary introduction to the key issues in educational philosophy and theory. Exploring recent developments as well as important ideas from the twentieth century, this book aims to make philosophy of education relevant to everyday practice for teachers and student teachers, as well as those studying education as an academic subject.
"For description and defense of the narrative configurations of everyday life, and of the practical and social character of those narratives, there is no better treatment than Time, Narrative, and History.... a clear, judicious, and truthful account, provocative from beginning to end." —Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology "... a superior work of philosophy that tells a unique and insightful story about narrative." —Quarterly Journal of Speech.
Challenging prevailing interpretations of the development of modern philosophy, this book proposes a reinterpretation of the transcendental tradition, as represented primarily by Kant and Husserl, and counters Heidegger's influential reading of these philosophers. Author David Carr defends their subtle and complex transcendental investigations of the self and the life of subjectivity, and seeks to revive an understanding of what Husserl calls "the paradox of subjectivity"--an appreciation for the rich and sometimes contradictory character of experience.
One matter upon which the already voluminous philosophical and psychological literature on the topic seems to be agreed is that gratitude is a psychologically and socially beneficial human quality of some moral significance. Further to this, gratitude seems to be widely regarded by positive psychologists and virtue ethicists as a moral virtue. This paper, however, sets out to show that such claims and assumptions about the moral character of gratitude are questionable and that its status as a moral virtue is (...) by no means straightforward. (shrink)
Aristotelian virtue ethics invests emotions and feelings with much moral significance. However, the moral and other conflicts that inevitably beset human life often give rise to states of emotional division and ambivalence with problematic implications for any understanding of virtue as complete psychic unity of character and conduct. For one thing, any admission that the virtuous are prey to conflicting passions and desires may seem to threaten the crucial virtue ethical distinction between the virtuous and the continent. One recent attempt (...) to sustain this distinction -- considered in this paper -- maintains that the contrary-to-virtue emotions and desires of the virtuous (by contrast with those of the continent) must relinquish their motive power as reasons for action. Following some attention to the psychological status of feelings and emotions -- in particular their complex relations with cognition and reason -- this paper rejects this solution in favour of a more constructive view of emotional conflict. (shrink)
This paper sets out to explore connections between a number of plausible claims concerning education in general and moral education in particular: (i) that education is a matter of broad cultural initiation rather than narrow academic or vocational training; (ii) that any education so conceived would have a key concern with the moral dimensions of personal formation; (iii) that emotional growth is an important part of such moral formation; and (iv) that literature and other arts have an important part to (...) play in such emotional education. It is argued here that what is needed for a clear view of the moral educational relevance of literature and the arts is a conception of moral education that does justice to the interplay between the cognitive and the affective in moral life, and that a non?relativist Aristotelian ethics of virtue holds out the best prospect for such a moral education of reason and feeling. (shrink)
It is central to virtue ethics both that morally sound action follows from virtuous character, and that virtuous character is itself the product of habitual right judgement and choice: that, in short, we choose our moral characters. However, any such view may appear to encounter difficulty in those cases of moral conflict where an agent cannot simultaneously act (say) both honestly and sympathetically, and in which the choices of agents seem to favour the construction of different moral characters. This paper (...) argues, against possible counter-arguments, for a view of virtue ethics which embraces the diversity of moral character. (shrink)
While honesty is clearly a virtue of some educational as well as moral significance, its virtue-ethical status is far from clear. In this essay, following some discussion of latter-day virtue ethics and virtue epistemology, David Carr argues that honesty exhibits key features of both moral and epistemic virtue, and, more precisely, that honesty as a virtue might best be understood as the epistemic component of Aristotelian practical wisdom. In the wake of arguments to be found in Plato's Laws, as well (...) as in those of more modern philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Iris Murdoch, Carr then traces the main roots of moral dishonesty to various forms of vain and self-delusive ego attachment. In this light, he argues in the final section of the essay that literature and the arts may provide a powerful educational antidote to such attachment. (shrink)
Paul Ricoeur was one of the foremost interpreters and translators of Edmund Husserl's philosophy. These nine essays present Ricoeur's interpretation of the most important of Husserl's writings, with emphasis on his philosophy of consciousness rather than his work in logic. In Ricoeur's philosophy, phenomenology and existentialism came of age and these essays provide an introduction to the Husserlian elements which most heavily influenced his own philosophical position.
Much contemporary social theory has emphasised the key role that cultural and other narrative plays in any human understanding of moral self and agency. However, in those modern social contexts in which literacy has been widespread, such access to narrative has also been largely via the written word: those significantly educated in cultural heritage have been the primarily well?read. Still, in an age in which communication is most commonly prosecuted through the electronic media of radio, cinema, television and computer, it (...) may be asked whether or to what extent traditional literary access to cultural narrative has been overtaken by more modern technological events. This paper sets out to explore the potential and prospects of the technological art of cinema for enhanced understanding of morally and spiritually significant narrative. (shrink)
In this paper I look at narrative as a mode of explanation and at various ways in which the explanatory value of narrative has been criticized. I begin with the roots of narrative explanation in everyday action, experience, and discourse, illustrating it with the help of a simple example. I try to show how narrative explanation is transformed and complicated by circumstances that take us beyond the everyday into such realms as jurisprudence, journalism, and history. I give an account of (...) why narrative explanation normally satisfies us, and how or in what sense it actually explains. Then I consider how narrative is challenged and rejected as a mode of explanation in many scientific and other contexts and why attempts are made to replace it with something else. I try to evaluate the nature and sources of these challenges, and I describe this controversy over narrative against the historical background of its emergence. My paper ends with a pragmatic defense of narrative explanation against these challenges. (shrink)
From some perspectives, it seems obvious that emotions and feelings must be both reasonable and morally significant: from others, it may seem as obvious that they cannot be. This paper seeks to advance discussion of ethical implications of the currently contested issue of the relationship of reason to feeling and emotion via reflection upon various examples of affectively charged moral dilemma. This discussion also proceeds by way of critical consideration of recent empirical enquiry into these issues in the literature of (...) so-called emotional intelligence. In this regard, despite ambiguities in their accounts of the relationship of reason to emotion, advocates of emotional intelligence generally incline to therapeutic conceptions of emotional health which are not inconsistent with currently fashionable cognitivist accounts of feeling and emotion. All the same, it is arguable that therapeutic or other strategies which overplay the possibility of cognitive or other resolution of emotional conflict are prey to certain difficulties. First, they underemphasise those passive but identity-constitutive aspects of affect which are not obviously rationally accountable. Secondly, they insufficiently recognise the extent to which emotional conflicts can be significantly implicated in moral diversity. In view of either or both of these points, they may fail to appreciate the moral inappropriateness of attempts to resolve certain forms of emotional conflict or tension. (shrink)
Qualities of personal character would appear to play a significant role in the professional conduct of teachers. It is often said that we remember teachers as much for the kinds of people they were than for anything they may have taught us, and some kinds of professional expertise may best be understood as qualities of character After (roughly) distinguishing qualities of character from those of personality, the present paper draws on the resources of virtue ethics to try to make sense (...) of the former. In the course of this, it is argued that while the key virtue ethical concept of phronesis orpractical wisdom has been widely deployed to account for aspects of professional teacher expertise, it has also been subject to rather un-Aristotelian interpretation as a kind of situation specific productive reasoning. The present paper seeks to show that it is better employed for understanding character in general and character in teaching in particular. The paper concludes with some observations about the professional education or cultivation of character. (shrink)
We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . . everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There’s something way down deep that’s eternal (...) about every human being. The main aim of this paper is to raise and explore some issues about the possible or actual uses of past and present-day creative and imaginative literature for moral educational purposes—more specifically to the purpose .. (shrink)
Perhaps the most pressing issue concerning teacher education and training since the end of the Second World War has been that of the role of theory—or principled reflection—in professional expertise. Here, although the main post-war architects of a new educational professionalism clearly envisaged a key role for theory—considering such disciplines as psychology, sociology and philosophy as indispensable for reflective practice—there are nevertheless well-rehearsed difficulties about crediting such disciplines with quite the (applied) role in educational practice of (say) physiology or anatomy (...) in medical practice. This paper argues that while recent developments in professional teacher education and training may have moved on from erstwhile instrumentalist and/or applied science (competence and other) perspectives, there may yet be a case for further progress towards a rather more sophisticated philosophical psychology of teacher knowledge and expertise. (shrink)
The purposes of higher education in general and of university education in particular have long been subject to controversy. Whereas for some, the main role of universities is to provide professional and vocational education and training and their benefits are to be measured in terms of social or economic utility, their value for others is to be seen more in terms of the liberal development and promotion of certain intrinsically worthwhile qualities of mind and intellect. In this context, indeed, much (...) recent literature on university education has been concerned to reaffirm what are usually taken to have been the liberal purposes of bygone university education over the more instrumental or vocational agendas of much contemporary university and higher education. While recognising, along with other treatments of this issue, that it is to some extent implicated in a false dichotomy between the liberal and the vocational, this paper seeks a clearer rationale for the liberal dimensions and aspirations of university education. (shrink)
The passing of Nelson Mandela and other figures of contemporary importance may prompt the interesting question of how we might or should understand the psychological, social and moral function of lamentation in human life. This paper aims to show that such responses are not just of emotional and interpersonal significance, but also of serious moral import. To this end, the paper proceeds via exploration of conceptually and morally suggestive correspondences or resonances between the logical grammar of lamentation—which, to be sure, (...) has received almost no latter day analytical attention—and that of gratitude or thankfulness in which there has been an enormous explosion of academic interest in recent years. The paper argues that there is no less case for a moral virtue of lamentation, than for a virtue of gratitude. (shrink)
Narrative and the real world are not mutually exclusive. Life is not a structureless sequence of events; it consists of complex structures of temporal configurations that interlock and receive their meaning from within action itself. It is also not true that life lacks a point of view which transforms events into a story by telling them. Our focus of attention is not the past but the future, because we grasp configurations extending into the future. Action involves the adoption of an (...) anticipated future-retrospective point of view on the present. The actions of life can be viewed as the process of telling ourselves stories. The retrospective view of the narrator is an extension and refinement of a viewpoint inherent in action itself. Because storytelling is a social activity, the story of one's life is told as much to others as to oneself. Social human time, like individual human time, is constructed into configured sequences. The practical first-order narrative process that constitutes a person or a community can become a second-order narrative whose subject is unchanged but whose interest is primarily cognitive or aesthetic. (shrink)
Seeking to reinstate the importance of knowledge, truth and curriculum in contemporary intellectual debate, this book fills a major gap in the literature and greatly advances an exciting area of research.
Many conceptions of moral formation--not least some influential modern accounts--are developmental in character: they aspire to trace progress to moral maturity through or across some sequence or other of more or less well defined stages of cognitive, conative and/or affective growth. In so far as accounts of this kind are often less than mutually consistent, however, the logical status and/or evidential basis of such developmental theories remains less than clear. This article argues that such accounts are inherently normative--precisely, more evaluative (...) than descriptive--and proceeds to explore some of the more problematic moral educational implications of this claim. (shrink)
It seems often to have been thought that we need to make some kind of theoretical and/or practical choice between (liberal) moral, social and political conceptions of social order and citizenship focused on principles (rights and/or duties) and (communitarian or other) perspectives focused on virtue and character. This essay argues that no such tensions arise on a more universalistic virtue ethical conception of moral formation divorced from communitarian or other attachment to politics of local identity. In the course of making (...) this claim, the paper argues that: (i) no account of social and moral responsibility ? and hence of citizenship ? could be given in terms of rights alone; (ii) virtue ethics, properly construed, is far from eschewing reference to general principles; (iii) an ethics of virtuous character can be conceived independently of communitarian or other social constructivist perspectives on the source of moral virtues and values. The paper concludes with an exploration of some implications of such a virtue ethical conception of morality for citizenship education. (shrink)
It is arguable that some of the most profound and perennial issues and problems of philosophy concerning the nature of human agency, the role of reason and knowledge in such agency and the moral status and place of responsibility in human action and conduct receive their sharpest definition in Plato's specific discussion in the Republic of the human value of physical activities. From this viewpoint alone, Plato's exploration of this issue might be considered a locus classicus in the philosophy of (...) sport. Indeed, it is in this place that Plato offers a highly distinctive account of the value of physical education in terms of its vital contribution to the development of a part of the soul that he characterises in terms of ?spirit?, ?energy? and/or ?initiative?. Drawing on more recent work in ethics and philosophy of action, this paper sets out to revisit and evaluate Plato's argument. While concluding that Plato's case ultimately flounders on fundamental uncertainty regarding the logical role of spirit in the explanation of agency, the paper concludes that there is much to be learned ? in the philosophy of sport and elsewhere ? from the instructive failures of Plato's argument. (shrink)
Plato is usually credited as the source of the "ancient quarrel" between reason and rhetoric—and, for him, the arts fall mostly on the less favorable side of rhetoric.1 To be sure, Plato's harsh verdict on the arts rests on an idealist metaphysics and epistemology (or realism about universals)—enshrining a general pessimism about the epistemic prospects of sense experience—which few, nowadays, would consider persuasive. For Plato, since what is presented to us by the senses is no more than an inaccurate copy (...) of truth as revealed by the intellect, and since the artist merely reproduces such copies, the productions of artists are not once but twice removed from any genuine knowledge of reality. To be sure, Plato is .. (shrink)
This paper sets out to explore apparent contradictions between claims or assumptions to the effect that: (i) teaching is a profession; (ii) good teaching involves the cultivation of positive personal relationships with pupils; (iii) professional relationships should be of an essentially formal or impersonal nature. It is argued that the very real contradictions to which teaching as a professional occupation is prone are a function of fundamental tension between the essentially deontic character of professional principle and regulation, and the inherently (...) 'virtue ethical' nature of teaching as a form of pre-theoretical and non-technical moral association. The paper concludes by identifying and offering some comment on three such areas of tension. (shrink)
Current conceptions of the nature of education and teaching would appear to be dominated by a generally technicist interpretation of educational enquiry and conduct which has also influenced recent perspectives on professionalism in education. This technicist view, which rests initially on a misreading of the logical character of educational discourse, is further reinforced by certain theories of schooling and pedagogy hailing from the social sciences. It is argued here, however, that since it is the morally normative language of ethical principles (...) and dispositions rather than the instrumentally normative language of techniques which lies at the heart of discourse about education and teaching, the idea of a virtue provides a better model for understanding professional competence than that of a skill. (shrink)
Moral philosophy seems well placed to claim the key role in theorizing about moral education. Indeed, moral philosophers have from antiquity had much to say about psychological and other processes of moral formation. Given this history, it may seem ironic that much systematic latter‐day theorizing about moral education has been social scientific, and that some of the major trends in the field have been led by empirical or other psychologists. Moreover, while acknowledging the influence of such major past philosophers as (...) Plato, Aristotle, and Kant on the primary modern movements of cognitive developmentalism, care ethics, and character education, some recent social scientists have called for the development of a “psychologized morality” in the interests of an even more leading role for psychological research in the theory of moral formation. In this essay, David Carr surveys and critically evaluates these trends in theorizing moral education. (shrink)