Pedagogies of Non-self as Practices of Freedom

Studies in Philosophy and Education 40 (1):51-65 (2020)
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This paper assumes that educators are now involved in a struggle for their souls and for the souls of their students. The idea of the soul in this case is not the religious one, but the soul invoked by Foucault to name that aspect of self, that ‘exists, or is produced … within the body … or born … out of methods of punishment, supervision and constraint’. Neoliberalising social policy not only aims to transform structures and enact new technologies of control but also involves the transformation of values and cultures, and hence the formation of new subjectivities. With that in mind this paper argues for an education understood as experiments with alternative modalities of self-formation that are responsive to the key challenges of our times. The paper experiments with as aphoristic style and hence is structured through six fragments that provide various takes on this problematic, including: an autobiographical moment; a brief rendering of Foucault’s genealogy of the relationship between truth and the subject; Hadot’s genealogy of philosophy; various definitions of spirituality; and an account of Buddhist epistemology that distinguishes knowing and realization. The paper concludes by arguing for a Buddhist inspired pedagogy that is defined in terms of the relationships between teacher, student and realization. From such a perspective, it is not identity work that is the ethico-political project of our times, but of learning how to quite literally get free of our self.



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Robert Hattam
University of South Australia

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