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Smoothing It: Some Aristotelian misgivings about the phronesis-praxis perspective on education

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A kind of ‘neo-Aristotelianism’ that connects educational reasoning and reflection to phronesis, and education itself to praxis, has gained considerable following in recent educational discourse. The author identifies four cardinal claims of this phronesis-praxis perspective: that a) Aristotle's epistemology and methodology imply a stance that is essentially, with regard to practical philosophy, anti-method and anti-theory; b) ‘producing’, under the rubric of techné, as opposed to ‘acting’ under the rubric of phronesis, is an unproblematically codifiable process; c) phronesis must be given a particularist interpretation; and d) teaching is best understood as praxis in the Aristotelian sense, guided by phronesis. The author argues that these claims have insufficient grounding in Aristotle's own writings, and that none of them stands up to scrutiny.

Keywords: Aristotle; anti-theory; moral particularism; phronesis; teaching as praxis

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-5812.2005.00135.x

Affiliations: University of Akureyri, Iceland

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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