Education is the Art of Making Humanity Ethical

In Diversity in Perspective. Bologna: Italian University Press. pp. 209-235 (2020)
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Abstract

Beginning from Hegel's notion of ethical life (Sittlichkeit) as a mode of consciousness governed by the norms of a historical community, this essay examines the role of education in shaping contemporary communities of autonomous people. It does so by defending a version of the idea that an educator has, among her other tasks, the role of helping her students appreciate the values that are shared across her community. In the course of the examination I relate this idea to trends in the European Enlightenment, and I draw on research concerning political polarization in Europe and North America today and its impact on the academy. In the process I argue that the modern university educator has the task of cultivating in her students an attitude of critical inquiry whose results are not coerced by the social conditions under which that inquiry takes place, and I offer some pedagogical proposals for the university educator facing the situation we are today.

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