Philosophy, Tragedy and Education: Thinking After Nihilism


  • Nick Peim University of Birmingham


Educational alternatives, progressive education, alternative education, difference, educational theory, educational philosophy, home education, education policy


This paper proposes a reclaiming of tragedy—in the sense implicit in Nietzsche’s first book Birth of Tragedy (1872/1956)—as a mode of thinking that offers a philosophical attitude in tune with deconstruction. Deconstruction in the sense used here signifies a mode of thinking which both acknowledges its debt to the philosophical heritage yet seeks to problematize both debt and heritage. Deconstruction aligned with tragedy offers ways of thinking that enable us to confront the challenge of nihilism, in all its guises, without having to reach for ready to hand ontotheological principles: principles such as those informing almost all contemporary educational research and which certainly govern the dominant modes of philosophy of education. The proper challenge of nihilism, then, this paper claims—understood as the proper challenge of philosophy and thinking—is yet to be met by the philosophy of education. Its recent celebrations of its own very limited rationalist heritage confirm this. Rethinking education in terms of its ontotheological status the paper claims is possible through the confrontation with nihilism.


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