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The End of Education

The End of Education: Toward Posthumanism

William V. Spanos
Volume: 1
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The End of Education
    Book Description:

    “A powerful argument against and brilliant analysis of the liberal humanist project.” --Peter McLaren

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8385-7
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    The basic claim of this book is that the crisis of contemporary higher education is a symptom of what Martin Heidegger has called “the end of philosophy.” To be more historically specific, my argument holds that the events culminating in the Vietnam War revealed the essential contradiction inhering in the discourse and institutional practices of humanism: that its principle of disinterested inquiry is in fact an agency of disguised power. As a synecdochical instance of this disclosure, I wish to invoke the testimony of the protest movement of the late 1960s, when students representing blacks, women, ethnic minorities, and other...

  5. One Humanistic Understanding and the Onto-theo-logical Tradition: The Ideology of Vision
    (pp. 1-24)

    In 1974 at the behest of Derek Bok, the new president of Harvard University, a faculty committee chaired by the new dean of arts and sciences, Henry Rosovsky, undertook a “major review of the goals and strategies of undergraduate education at Harvard.”¹ In 1978, when it had become clear that “there was wide agreement that the proliferation of courses [in the previous decade] had eroded the purpose of the existing General Education Program” (RCC, p. 1), the task force submitted its Report on the Core Curriculum to the Harvard faculty. This report, the members of the committee believed, was grounded...

  6. Two Humanistic Inquiry and the Politics of the Gaze
    (pp. 25-64)

    In the preceding chapter, I situated my inquiry into the pedagogy of humanism at the site of ontology in order to suggest the continuity between the various historically specific representations of reality (and the educational discourses transmitting them) in the ontotheological tradition, the tradition, in more familiar terms, that has come to be called “the West.” To put it another way, my ontological focus was intended to thematize the metaphysics that “worldly” critics all too insistently overlook or minimize in their interrogation of the dominant culture of the present historical conjuncture: the hegemony of what has been variously called humanism,...

  7. Three The Apollonian Investment of Modern Humanist Educational Theory: The Examples of Matthew Arnold, Irving Babbitt, and I. A. Richards
    (pp. 65-117)

    I have suggested in the previous chapters that a destructive genealogy of humanism discloses its discourse of deliverance to be, in fact, a logocentrism that precipitates a binary logic—being/time, identity/difference, order/chaos, and so on—in which the first term is not simply privileged over the second, but is endowed with the authority and power to colonize the latter or to relegate it, in Thomas Pynchon’s resonant term, to preterition. Far from being a mode of disinterested inquiry, humanism was discovered to be a naturalized version of the supernaturalLogos.Its discourse is governed by a center, beyond the reach...

  8. Four The Violence of Disinterestedness: A Genealogy of the Educational “Reform” Initiative in the 1980s
    (pp. 118-161)

    The destructive reading of the exemplary discourses of Matthew Arnold, Irving Babbitt, and I.A. Richards in the foregoing chapter has discovered the history of modern humanistic educational theory that these three writers exemplify to be a history that has naturalized and covered up its ideological origins. This history is characterized not by disinterested inquiry but by a recurrent call for the recuperation of a logocentric pedagogy in the face of historical ruptures that betrayed the complicity of humanistic discourse with an essentially reactionary bourgeois ideology and its discreetly repressive capitalist state apparatuses, which have dominated the vision and practices of...

  9. Five The University in the Vietnam Decade: The “Crisis of Command” and the “Refusal of Spontaneous Consent”
    (pp. 162-186)

    Throughout this book, I have tried to convey a sense of the crisis of education in the contemporary Western world, particularly in North America, by thematizing the contradictory will to power inscribed in the humanistic rhetoric of deliverance and the institutions of learning this rhetoric has legitimized. My reasons for this largely critical opposition are not restricted to disclosing the complicity of these institutions with the ideology of the various privileged hierarchical oppositions—identity/difference, subject/object, space/time, male/female, black/white, culture/anarchy, high culture/low culture, maturity/youth, and so on—intended to guarantee the hegemony of the dominant sociopolitical order. Indeed, my destructive discourse...

  10. Six The Intellectual and the Posthumanist Occasion: Toward a Decentered Paideia
    (pp. 187-222)

    The oppositional discourse and practice of the protest movement during the decade of the Vietnam War were symptomatic gestures and, as such, were both productive in revealing the contradictions of the idea of the humanistic university and futile in their failure to enable a praxis commensurable with their symbolic function. What, then, are the educational imperatives disclosed by the irruption of repressed or accommodated historical subjects in the late 1960s and early 1970s? Despite the self-destruction of humanistic practice and the postmodern theoretical demystification of the discourse of deliverance, the vast majority of professors of the humanities and the custodians...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 223-270)
  12. Index
    (pp. 271-278)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 279-279)