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Title: 'Bringing me more than I contain' : Levinas, ethical subjectivity and the infinite demands of education
Author: Strhan, Anna Harriet Block
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 5194
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Emmanuel Levinas' s reorientation of ethics as preceding ontology and his radical presentation of responsibility, justice, consciousness and knowledge are of clear relevance for education. It is therefore not surprising that in the last decade we have seen a number of studies ofLevinas by educational theorists. Much of this work has focused on Levinas's relevance for issues of ethics, social justice, multiculturalism and moral education. This thesis draws on this previous research, but aims to take educational readings of Levinas in another direction through considering how his presentation of discourse, language and subjectivity, as dependent on an infinite ethical demand, troubles several dominant orientations within educational discourse that treat education in ways that can become totalising and instrumentalist. I begin by offering a philosophical analysis of how Levinas describes the scene of teaching and the nature of subjectivity. I then interrogate how this reading of Levinas disturbs some current understandings of education: first, the way that, within liberalism, education can be conceived instrumentally as the site for the development of a certain kind of individual (a rationally autonomous chooser, etc.), and second, the way that neoliberal educational ideologies have privileged managerialism, performance and the market, with Religious Education providing a case study of the implications of Levinas's interruption. I then consider how this leads to new understandings of community and political subjectivity within education. In this way, I explore how responding to Levinas, and reading his work together with criticisms addressed by Badiou and others, leads us not just to a richer vision of the meaning of education, but also to a more motivating understanding of the ethical subjectivity of both students and teachers, which is dependent on a deepening and anarchic responsibility, and which invites us to work for a better education extending beyond the straight line ofthe law.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available