The Uncanny Challenge of Self-Cultivation in the Anthropocene

Studies in Philosophy and Education 41 (3):345-362 (2022)
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Self-cultivation—taking pedagogical action to educate oneself—is an integral part of non-formal adult education. Ever since Greek antiquity, it has been a central ingredient in the western philosophical and educational tradition. However, we argue that the global challenges that have emerged in the present era of the ecological crisis call for a new kind of understanding of this basic educational phenomenon. Based in particular on recent work in dark ecology and its central concept of the ‘uncanny’, we outline a few key features of our time in relation to the contemporary challenge of self-cultivation. We then review extant literature on self-cultivation to ascertain whether the theoretical resources that have been used to conceptualise it in the past are capable of addressing these new aspects of self-cultivation. We conclude that each of the theoretical resources analysed here offer valuable insights into the novel challenges facing self-cultivation, though not all important questions can be answered. By specifying the contributions and limitations of these theoretical resources, we pave the way for future work on conceptualising self-cultivation for our times.



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We have never been modern.Bruno Latour - 1993 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things.Jane Bennett - 2010 - Durham: Duke University Press.
The Subject and Power.Michel Foucault - 1982 - Critical Inquiry 8 (4):777-795.
Being and Time: A Translation of Sein Und Zeit.Martin Heidegger - 1996 - State University of New York Press.

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