Learning from Levinas: A Response
- Gert Biesta
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In this paper I explore the question of how toapproach the writings of Emmanuel Levinas fromthe point of view of education. I argue thatLevinas has challenged the modern conception ofsubjectivity which underpins modern education.Instead of providing a new conception ofsubjectivity, his work should be understood asan attempt to account for the awakening of theuniqueness of the subject in ethical terms. Thecentral idea is that we come into presencethrough responding, through taking up – or notdenying – the undeniable responsibility whichprecedes our subjectivity. Levinas not onlyprovides us with a new way to `understand'subjectivity. `Responding' also suggests a wayto approach Levinas's writings that goes beyondthe simple application of his `truths' toeducational practice. Levinas's writingschallenge their reader to articulate a unique,unprecedented response. It is argued that thepapers to which this paper is a response alldisplay this approach to Levinas's writings. Itis further argued that `responding' is not onlya way to read Levinas, but ultimately a way tothink about education itself. To learn (fromLevinas) is to respond (to Levinas).
- Biesta, G.J.J. (1998a). Pedagogy without humanism. Foucault and the subject of education. Interchange, 29(1), 1–16.
- Biesta, G.J.J. (1998b). Say you want a revolution.' suggestions for the impossible future of critical pedagogy', Educational Theory, 48, 499–510. See also
- Biesta, G.J.J. (1999a). Radical intersubjectivity. Reflections on the 'different' foundation of education. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 18, 203–220.
- Biesta, G.J.J. (1999b). Where are you? Where am I? Education, identity and the question of education. In Carl Anders Säfström (Ed), Identity: Questioning the logic of identity within educational theory (pp. 21–46). Lund: Studentlitteratur.
- Levinas, E. (1981). Otherwise than being or beyond essence (trans. A. Lingis). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
- Levinas, E. (1989). Ethics as first philosophy. In S. Hand (Ed), The Levinas reader (pp. 75–87). Oxford: Blackwell.
- Levinas, E. (1998). Entre-nous: On thinking of the other. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Llewelyn, J. (1995). Emmanuel Levinas. The genealogy of ethics. London/New York: Routledge.
- Rancière, J. (1991). The ignorant schoolmaster. Five lessons in intellectual emancipation. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
- Usher, R. & Edwards, R. (1994). Postmodernism and education. New York/London: Routledge.
- Wimmer, M. (2001). The gift of bildung. Reflections on the relationship between singularity and justice in the concept of bildung. In G.J.J. Biesta & D. Egéa-Kuehne (Eds), Derrida & Education (pp. 150–175). London/New York: Routledge.
- Learning from Levinas: A Response
Studies in Philosophy and Education
Volume 22, Issue 1 , pp 61-68
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- Kluwer Academic Publishers
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- Gert Biesta (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. School of Education, University of Exeter, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU, UK