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Individualization, singularization and e-ducation (between indifference and responsibility)

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It is commonly supposed that acting and judging ought to rest on a community-wide, binding definition of what is right and respectable, that is, a substantial consensus. Such consensus is thought possible only when we engage shared values and criteria, when we use knowledge and abilities appropriated through education. On this view, education deals with the reproduction of consensus and, hence, with the passing on of traditions and norms. On my view, we need to question the framework in which the debate over social erosion takes place. I take a cue from remarks of Hannah Arendt and question the presupposition that acting and judging in a right way requires both common values and the appropriation of what we call ‘knowledge’ of criteria and principles. I do not suggest that ‘knowledge’ has nothing to do with acting and judging. Rather, I wish to draw attention to (Arendt's concept of) thinking as a condition for acting and judging. Here, thinking has nothing to do with knowledge or with appropriation. Rather, it has to do with living-together with somebody. Educa-tion for thinking is, then, a ‘public thinking’ which leads out of the serf and into communal responsibility. On this treatment, the educator is to be a ‘faithful guardian’ of this calling out into responsibility.

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Masschelein, J. Individualization, singularization and e-ducation (between indifference and responsibility). Studies in Philosophy and Education 15, 97–105 (1996).

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