Related people: John Morgan

A new book by WISERD academic Professor W. John Morgan examining nine modern European philosophers was discussed at a recent lunchtime seminar.

Philosophy, Dialogue, and Education: Nine Modern European Philosophers, by Prof Morgan and Alexandre Guilherme, is intended for academics and students in philosophy or the philosophy of education and in educational, cultural, and social studies.

It considers nine key modern European philosophers from the perspective of their thoughts on the relationship of Philosophy, Dialogue, and Education. These are: Martin Buber, Mikhail Bakhtin, Lev Vygotsky, Hannah Arendt, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Simone Weil, Michael Oakeshott, and Jürgen Habermas. The book examines in detail the socio-political views of each philosopher within an European tradition of dialogical philosophy and reflects on the continuing theoretical relevance of each to education generally and to critical pedagogy in particular.

Prof Morgan said of his book: "The discussion in each chapter is informed by materials drawn from various scholarly sources in English and enriched by materials drawn from other languages, particularly French, German, and Russian, thus enhancing the comparative European cultural perspective of the book and connects the work of each philosopher to wider intellectual, political, and social debates. 

"Dialogue has also become a fashionable concept particularly among those who wished to encourage a critical pedagogy or ‘critical skills’ in education, such as is derived from Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony and from educators such as Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich or the feminist bell hooks.  A paradox may be that such dialogue often becomes institutionalised, developed according to ‘correct’ formulae. This did not consider sufficiently complexities such as history and culture with their normative values and power relations. In practice dialogue remains dependent on disposition and on situation and is often difficult to initiate, let alone sustain. Consider its use in conflict resolution.

"Finally, what of dialogue as a social philosophy? The German Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt, considered in the book, provides an example of its use in the public space of civil society. There are limits however, times when dialogue breaks down between individuals and between communities. There comes a point, for instance, when it is necessary to defend one’s humanity and that of others. This is the starting point of the concept of the just war that has a philosophical history dating from St. Augustine of Hippo. It is only by remaining open to or at ‘the disposal of dialogue’ as Buber says, that it continues to be a meaningful possibility."

The book is available direct from publishers Routledge - more information here.


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