Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 477–490 | Cite as

Existentialism and Humanism: Humanity—Know Thyself!

Article

Abstract

At times, an individual in modernity can feel dehumanised by work, by administration, by technology, and by political power. This experience of being dehumanised can take the individual to an existential awareness of the priority of existence over essence. But what does this existential experience mean? Are there ways in which this experience can reconnect the individual to her being human, or to her being part of humanity? Any such reconnection is further complicated by the suspicion that universal presuppositions concerning ‘humanity’ or ‘human being’ or ‘humanism’ carry pretensions of imperialist grandeur that must be challenged. How, then, might one proceed to connect existential vertigo with a culture of humanism that, while resisting such pretensions, nevertheless can find meaning for the dehumanised individual? In what follows I argue that a concept of modern metaphysics, with an aporetic (Hegelian) logic of subjective experience, can carry this reconnection of the I and the We, offering meaning not in the resolution of their opposition, but in learning that the meaning of their opposition, and the meaning of humanity, is learning, is our education. I argue that it is only within modern educational metaphysics that humanity and the individual Know Thyself.

Keywords

Existentialism Culture Metaphysics Education Kant Hegel Humanism 

References

  1. Althusser, L. (1984). Essays in ideology. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1984). The complete works of Aristotle. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Benjamin, W. (1994). The origin of German tragic drama. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Caygill, H. (2002). Levinas and the political. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Heidegger, M. (1993). In D. F. Krell (Ed.), Basic writings. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Kant, I. (1968). Critique of pure reason. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Kaufmann, W. (1959). The owl and the nightingale. London: Faber and Faber.Google Scholar
  8. Kierkegaard, S. (1998). The point of view. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Levinas, E. (1969). Totality and infinity. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Levinas, E. (1998). Otherwise than being. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Sartre, J. P. (1969). Being and nothingness. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Sartre, J. P. (2007). Existentialism and humanism. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  13. Tubbs, N. (1997). Contradiction of enlightenment. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  14. Tubbs, N. (2004). Philosophy’s higher education. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  15. Tubbs, N. (2005). Philosophy of the teacher. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Tubbs, N. (2008). Education in Hegel. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  17. Tubbs, N. (2009). History of Western philosophy. Basingstoke: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Zizek, S. (1996). The indivisible remainder. London: Verso.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WinchesterWinchesterUK

Personalised recommendations