JEducSci_12_23.pdf 9.39 MB
Some philosophical issues relating to identity, personhood, ethics, knowledge, language, culture, and education
In this paper, I discuss some philosophical issues that fall within the intersection of analytic philosophy and education, arising out of my long-standing involvement in Philosophy for Children and Community of Inquiry. I begin with an important point of clarification over the concept of identity which has been appropriated by the social sciences and media to defend the idea that our identities are given by our affiliation with various "identity groups" (nations, religions, ethnicities, cultures...). I argue that this idea is confused and has led to the politicization of identity and support for a destructive "us and them" mentality. I reject both a "collectivist" and an "individualist" sense of what being a person means, in favor of a relational conception by each person sees her/himself as one among others. I then move to consider the ethical, epistemological, linguistic, cultural, educational and socio-political dimensions of this conception of personhood, and offer a brief defence of several theses, including: the Principle of Personal Worth (persons are morally superior to non-persons including so-called "identity groups"); persons are members of language communities that underpin our own subjective awareness; the skills and dispositions that constitute what I call "powerful thinking" depend upon internalizing overt forms of communication, most notably dialogue,' thus understood, the imperative to engage children in dialogue is universal rather than culturally-relative (a point of specific significance in "Confucian Heritage Countries" such as Japan); and powerful thinking and dialogue play a key role in a democratic society that is not dominated by "populist" forces.
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