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3. Abstract on: Philosophy & Education [Dr. Müller, The Netherlands]

Start Date:
11. October 2017, 11:00
Finish date:
11. October 2017, 12:00
École Dotorale Lille 3 University



Greek Tragedy: a Paideia in Hybris and Failure



Paideia is a pedagogical approach that has its origin in Ancient Greek thought and is developed by Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835) through the concept of Bildung wherein philosophy and education are linked in a manner that refers to a process of both personal and cultural maturation. This maturation is described as a harmonization of the individual’s mind and soul and in a unification of selfhood and identity within the broader society. Nowadays humanists reclaim the need of applying the ideas of the Bildung movement in our educational system. The Dutch philosopher Joep van Dohmen (1949) considers that the welfare of young people is threatened by the neoliberal society and that without a renewed integral education they are doomed to depressions and burnouts. Their self-perception is based on the idea of an infinite will power free from every determination and uniquely responsible for the actions it commands. In this megalomaniac projection of self-realization adversity and failure has no place. Dohmen observes that nowadays young generation ignores destiny as an integral part of life. Youngsters become weak and resistless in situations of crisis. In the Netherlands the Bildung movement is promoting a renovation of academic teaching wherein students are schooled in self-knowledge and social consciousness. The initiator of the Bildung Academy, Koen Wessels (1988), considers that scientific knowledge is useless without the cultivation of the soul. We can observe a general tendency of revaluation of the classical conception of education. In this lecture I would like to contemplate the origins of the concept of integral education (paideia) in Ancient Greek society. My focus will be the attic tragedy and its educational and therapeutic function. Aristotle (384-322 BC) conceives in his Poietika that the spectator of Greek Drama educates his practical intelligence (phrónesis) and moral capacities. The classicist Werner Jaeger (1888-1961) considers in his multivolume work Paideia (an extensive consideration of both the earliest practices and later philosophical reflections on the cultural nature of education in Ancient Greece) that attic tragedy constitutes an essential element in the education of the citizen of the polis. The tragic play provokes in the observer a deep emotional and cognitive engagement in which the hero on stage stops being an objective problem and becomes a personal one, confronting each individual with his own subjectivity. The drama invites to an inner-dialogue in which selfhood, society, past, present, emotions, thoughts, believes and metaphysical assumptions are questioned. It educates the spectator in his humanity, giving him a deep insight in the metaphysics of the limits and infinitive possibilities of the human culture. The tragic poets had a deep awareness of the ambiguity of the human existence: to live an endurable life one should know its limits but to develop life one must transgress these limits. Self-overestimation (hybris) entails failure and suffering of the hero, but at the same time it constitutes a positive impulse towards transformation and wisdom.  In this lecture we will analyze the trilogy Oresteia from Aeschylus (c. 524-455 BC) as a paradigmatic case study with the objective to see in which way reading tragedy can add something to an integral education of Bildung.



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