Traversing the fields of pedagogy, philosophy, and political theory, this book develops a marxist theory of education that will be useful for academics and activists alike. The second edition includes two additional chapters as well as a new preface and revisions throughout.
In the first monograph on Lyotard and education, Derek R. Ford approaches Lyotard's thought as pedagogical in itself. The result is a novel, soft, and accessible study of Lyotard organized around two inhuman educations: that of "the system" and that of "the human." The former enforces an interminable process of development, dialogue and exchange, while the latter finds its force in the mute, secret, opaque, and inarticulable. Threading together a range of Lyotard's work through four pedagogical processes-reading, writing, voicing, and (...) listening-the author insists on the distinct educational logics that can uphold or interrupt different ways of being-together in the world, touching on a range of topics from literacy and aesthetics to time and political-economy. While Inhuman Educations can serve as an introduction to Lyotard's philosophy, it also constitutes a singular, provocative, and fresh take on his thought. (shrink)
In an effort to theorize educational logics that are oppositional to capitalism, this article explores what it means to study like a communist. I begin by drawing out the tight connection between learning and capitalism, demonstrating that education is not a subset but a motor of political-economic relations. Next, I turn to the concept of study, which is being developed as an educational alternative to learning. While studying represents an educational challenge to capitalism, I argue that there are political limitations (...) to studying for which we need to account. Specifically, studying is not in itself political, but only represents the possibility of politics. To make this claim and to address these limitations, I turn to Jodi Dean’s work on the communist Party. Dean posits the Party not as a master, director, or prophet, but as an infrastructure of affective intensity that maintains a gap in the order of things. I show that the Party is one way to organize and to defend study. Throughout the article, I illuminate the ways in which educational philosophers can contribute to political movement building by showing, developing, and refining the educational components of politics that many organizers and theorists neglect. (shrink)
This book is the first to articulate and challenge the consensus on the right and left that knowledge is the key to any problem, demonstrating how the left’s embrace of knowledge productivity keeps it trapped within capital’s circuits. As the knowledge economy has forced questions of education to the forefront, the book engages pedagogy as an underlying yet neglected motor of capitalism and its forms of oppression. Most importantly, it assembles new pedagogical resources for responding to the range of injustices (...) that permeate our world. Building on yet critiquing the Marxist notion of the general intellect, Derek R. Ford theorizes stupidity as a necessary alternative pedagogical logic, an anti-value that is infinitely mute and unproductive. (shrink)
Air is an immersive substance that envelopes us and binds us together, yet it has dominantly been taken for granted and left out of educational and other theorizations. This article develops a conceptualization of the pneumatic common in order to address this gap. The specific intervention staged is within recent educational literature on the common by Noah De Lissovoy, Tyson E. Lewis, and Alexander Means. This literature is surveyed and analyzed in relation to educational theory, curriculum, pedagogy, and policy. Claiming (...) that the air is a central feature of and paradigm for the common, I then concentrate on making the air conditions of the educational common explicit. I do this through a theoretical, historical, and sociological reading of air conditioning. While this explicitation is itself educational, I return to the educational common at the end of the article to ask how and what we can learn in, with, and from the air. (shrink)
This paper reads Marx’s distinction between the method of inquiry and presentation as distinct and Marxist pedagogical logics that take the form of learning and studying. After articulating the differences and their current conceptualizations in educational theory, I turn to different interpretations of the Grundrisse and Capital. While I note the differences, I maintain these result from Marx’s alternation between learning and studying, to the different weights Marx gives to both. Marx sought to understand, articulate, learn, and relay the precise (...) logics of capital, of its contradictions, and of how the working class has and can seize on these contradictions to institute the revolutionary transition to communism. At the same time, he knew he couldn’t do this because no one can fully delineate and learn about capitalism so long as it exists, as capital is by definition a dynamic social relation. I show how readings of both books are products and productive of Marx’s own pedagogical constellation through their content and form of presentation. The argument is that this is a political and constellational pedagogy that’s contingent and singular rather than resolvable and unifiable. (shrink)
It’s not uncommon for people to make reference to atmospheres, including in relationship with educational spaces. In this article, we investigate educational atmospheres by turning to Western and Chinese literature on the air and wind. We pursue this task in three phases. First, we examine the Western literature to see the possible strings of thought that would help us reinvigorate the element of air/atmosphere as a foundational component of an educational sphere. Second, we historicize the Chinese notion of wind as (...) a style of reasoning which structures ancient Chinese cosmology, tempo-spatiality, teaching, and governing into a grid of intelligibility. Third, we argue for a bracketing of a trap of philology and a signifier-signified representational logic through reconceptualizing the atmosphere as a thing that blurs the material-figural boundary and that pushes into a new genre of educational life. (shrink)
In this article I bring Giorgio Agamben’s notion of ‘whatever singularity’ into critical pedagogy. I take as my starting point the role of identity within critical pedagogy. I call upon Butler to sketch the debates around the mobilization of identity for political purposes and, conceding the contingent necessity of identity, then suggest that whatever singularity can be helpful in moving critical pedagogy from an emancipatory to a liberatory project. To articulate whatever singularity I situate the concept within the work in (...) which it appears, and then take a detour into Agamben’s general philosophical project. I propose that, for critical pedagogy to take whatever singularity seriously, it must uphold a respect for the ineffability of being, which entails in part the suspension of dialogue. To help flesh out what I mean by this proposal, I turn to a fragment of Lyotard’s philosophy and his critique of democracy. I conclude by addressing a pressing ontological critique of Agamben, which leads me to argue for a materialist appropriation of the figure of whatever singularity, one that is held in tension with ontological concerns of identity. (shrink)
Within educational philosophy and theory there has recently been a re-turn to the concept and practices of studying as an alternative or oppositional educational logic to push back against learning as the predominant mode of educational engagement. While promising, we believe that this research on studying has been limited in a few ways. First, while the ontological aspects of studying have been examined in a thorough manner, the affective dimension of studying has not yet been investigated. Second, while a diverse (...) range of theorists have been called upon to articulate studying, the philosophical resources out of which studying has been shaped have remained trapped within the western canon. We seek to address these limitations in this article by turning to some literature on affect theory, Daoist wind-stories, as well as the Yijing–Daoist Yin–Yang movement. In doing so, not only do we make contributions to research on studying, but we also contribute an educational understanding to affect theory and draw out important affinities between affective study and Daoist windstories. In other words, this paper moves to both articulate the affective dimensions of studying and illuminate a particular pedagogy of affect. More important, we move one step further to re-conceptualize learning and study, figuring them not merely as alternative or oppositional orderings, but as a Daoist Yin–Yang movement wherewith learning and studying, analogous to the Yin–Yang elements, always happen together, mutually informing, confronting, and transforming each other. (shrink)
In this volume, critical scholars and educational activists explore the intricate dynamics between the enclosure of global commons and radical visions of a common social future that breaks through the logics of privatization, ecological degradation, and dehumanizing social hierarchies in education. In its institutional and informal configurations alike, education has been identified as perhaps the key stake in this struggle. Insisting on the urgency of an education that breaks free of the bonds of enclosure, the essays included in this volume (...) weave together bright threads of radical thought into a vivid tapestry illustrating a critical framework for enacting a global educational commons. (shrink)
While there was a flurry of articles throughout the 1990s in philosophy of education on Lyotard, there are still several key concepts in his oeuvre that have import for but remain largely underdeveloped or absent in the field. One of the most interesting of these absent concepts is Lyotard’s notion of the figural. In this paper, I take the figural as an educational problematic and ask what new educational insights it can generate in regard to the existing literature. As such, (...) this article begins with a survey and synthesis of educational literature on Lyotard and the primary work on which most of it is based, exploring the relationship between knowledge, performativity, the differend, and “the system.” I then examine conceptions of education oriented toward defending the differend and disrupting the system and claim that, while helpful, these conceptions are limited in that they do not mention how educators and students might engage the alterity that the system seeks to repress. I believe that it is here that Lyotard’s notion of the figural can be productively engaged. The next section of the paper performs a partial and educationally partisan reading of Discourse, Figure. After this reading I move to formulate a figural education, which is composed of three educational processes and modes of engagement: reading, seeing, and blindness. A figural education, I argue, holds each of these practices in an uncertain and unsettling relation and, in so doing, can help educators defend the figural and the differend against the discursive demands of the system. (shrink)
In her review of my book, Weili Zhao sheds a new light on what it means to study like a communist, particularly by focusing on the concept of the encounter and the dao movement. In this response, I build on her insights by proposing that the binary and the planar be heterogeneously blocked together. Rather than critical pedagogy, critical education, liberal education, and postmodern education, we need to see pedagogy and politics as hanging together in a confrontational negotiation.
Through an educational reading of Édouard Glissant and Peter Sloterdijk, this article draws out and develops latent pedagogical philosophies that bear distinct relationships to colonialism and struggles against and beyond colonialism. In particular, it identifies two related educational philosophies that propel colonization and, in turn, proposes a theory of errant learning that might undergird decolonization. It focuses on Glissant’s minor remarks about different conceptions of understanding in order to identify the grasping drive as the educational foundation of the colonizing apparatus. (...) After articulating the other form of understanding he offers, giving-on-and-with, I point to a potential contradiction in this division as it relates to his overall project. By freeing grasping from the grasping drive, I reconfigure the relationship between grasping and giving-on-and-with in a way that allows for certain kinds of enclosures. This introduces the question of pedagogical form, a question explored in Sloterdijk’s sphereological investigations. Reading the colonizing phase of globalization through Sloterdijk’s notion of lordly imagining—which I link with the grasping drive—the article draws out how different educational processes produce different kinds of spheres. Finally, it articulates errant learning as a pneumatic process of grasping and giving-on-and-with that values opacity over transparency to produce foam formations with attention to the history of inequality and injury through immune deprivation. (shrink)
In response to contagion, competing and contradictory movements emerge that engender openness to new modes of life and reactionary defenses of old ones, that acknowledge mutual dependency and vulnerability and that heighten the policing and surveillance of borders. Through reading the Empire project, this article articulates these as struggles over measure that unfold on the terrain of sovereignty and biopolitical economy. We show that the passage from modern to imperial sovereignty hinges on the former’s inability to adequately impose calculatory regimes, (...) to which the latter’s flexibility and fluidity responds. This accompanies the passage from industrial to biopolitical command, from regulation through the wage to rearbitration through extractivism. Having articulated the contemporary coordinates within which the multitude finds itself, we then propose an educational weapon for the struggle against sovereignty and capital: stupidity. Turning to Jean-François Lyotard, we demonstrate just how fundamentally the rule of Empire depends on the outside of measure for its continual reproduction, and how Empire frames the communicative networks of biopolitical labor, a framing from which Hardt and Negri haven’t adequately broken. As the other of thought, as that which can’t be articulated, commanded, or absorbed by capital, stupidity remains totally useless and unproductive for Empire, which is exactly where its potency lies for the multitude. By critically engaging stupidity, we can refrain from reducing the pandemic to a need for heightened immunity and enclosure achieved through articulation. (shrink)