Tuesday, October 26

Like flies in the bottle: education without philosophy

However, although life is not going to do it, even if we are able to think and act correctly without ever having studied philosophy, there is something that this discipline does that differentiates it from the others: it offers us the possibility of distancing ourselves from ourselves, of our own thoughts, of the beliefs that we acquire throughout our lives, of those that our environment transmits to us and that we absorb with ease. Studying the theories of different philosophers and philosophers is not filling one’s head with absurd content, with often contradictory theories to be thrown up on the exam to be positively evaluated. If it were so, philosophy would have no other value than that of any other cultural manifestation (although this would be enough, some will say). But studying philosophy is doing philosophy (You already said it Side by affirming that philosophy is not learned but to philosophize). Studying philosophy is putting distance between me and myself, between my being and my beliefs, it is giving permission for a space of lucidity to open up inside me, to stop being attached to what I believe and rethink everything if necessary. So after meeting Nietzsche We will inevitably ask ourselves how we want to live life if it were repeated over and over again. Or after studying Simone de Beauvoir We will ask ourselves what are the social and political conditions that make it possible for a human being to be a subject, capable of transcending himself without being reduced to an object in immanence. Philosophical theories can transform us if we let ourselves be traversed by them.

Putting distance between myself and my beliefs means questioning what is given, expanding my own limits, becoming an autonomous being, being able to question any approach and doing it from rationality. To be the fly that gets out of the bottle, according to the expression of Wittgenstein. It is thinking as Hanna Arendt conceived it, as that ability to establish a dialogue with oneself to let the wind of thought enter and carry away ideologies.

This distancing, this open sky, can be considered dangerous, because in that moment of questioning, of letting the content of the belief no longer have all the presence and it is the very act of thinking that is situated in the center, and nothing it can be controlled, conditioned, directed. There is no external agent to mark what is correct and what is not. There is no possible authority other than the inner authority of reason itself.

Therefore, it would be convenient to ask ourselves: is this what the authorities want for their citizens? What are the competencies that you really want the individuals who will be future voters to develop? Is this what compulsory education should offer?

Because it is possible that it is not.

That transformation that philosophy is capable of operating in us occurs slowly, silently, smoothly. It takes time and a certain journey. It takes some effort and passion to want to know more, aspects that the new education law does not pose as necessary. Reducing the presence of philosophy exclusively to a high school course is not allowing it to do its work and be able to bear fruit. And above all, it is to deprive those who do not study high school of access to this type of tools, which makes this type of human experiences possible. That is why perhaps, and only perhaps, it may be that all that inner freedom that can lead to equally free acts is not what we want to offer to the young people of this country.

Perhaps it is that the priority now is to make the bottle comfortable, easy, affordable, that it seems that you cannot be better in any other place than inside that bottle, that we all have the right -even- to live inside that bottle , that it cannot be better than having those beliefs, those attitudes, those speeches on the label of the bottle. And even that you want to convey that there is nothing beyond the bottle. It is not going to be that some fly succumbs to the temptation of wanting to get out of it and explore freedom.

November 19, 2020: world philosophy day

For an education with philosophy.

Elena Martínez Navarro is Professor of Philosophy at IES Fco. Figueras Pacheco.


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