Wednesday 12 June 2019

The nihilism of education 1

Ontological analysis of knowledge in education might begin by distinguishing between knowledge and the determining force that defines knowledge as significant or otherwise. Under the pressure of this division “knowledge itself” eludes any grasp. And without the ballast of a determinant knowledge, what becomes of education—except to be a technology of the self?

Fundamental conditions of possibility for knowledge are implicitly elaborated in Being and Time (1927/1962). In What is Metaphysics? (1935/1993) Heidegger rehearses some of the themes of Being and Time but gives attention to what he calls the “nothing” that lies beyond the attention of science or practical knowledge. This metaphysical analysis has implications for understanding the foundations of knowledge—its ontological conditions. This is a dimension of understanding—a dimension of knowledge also, of course—that is effectively foreclosed in dominant accounts of education, and in particular, in what passes for the philosophy of education. It is hardly surprising given that this dimension of knowledge necessarily addresses and foregrounds the “nothing” that attends knowledge. This nothing oddly doesn’t negate. On the contrary, it is its driving force.
Such foreclosures—cutting out significant elements before they ever enter to trouble the scene—are necessary for educational knowledge as we know it. And for academic educational discourses.

Philosophy of education has foreclosed any account of the fundamental ontological significance of the apparatuses of education, as though knowledge, learning and all the favoured “concepts” for analysis in establishment philosophy of education could exist outside of the institutional technologies of education and could float in some ideal space that would be innocent of history and uncontaminated by the social forces and structures that frame them (Blake, Smeyers, Smith & Standish, 2002; Hirst and Peters, 1971; Peters, 1966; Pring, 2000) ...