Towards a renewed flourishing of humanistic education?

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Humanism has always been constructed out of an historical context. Despite the differences in the notions of humanism mediated by historical particularity, there has nevertheless been continuity in the tradition. This article argues that an orientation towards the ‘good life’ animates the various humanisms in modern Western history, and that a similarly oriented humanistic education is desirable today. After briefly introducing some of Said's thoughts regarding humanism, I provide a short account of humanistic education in the modern era. Here, I provide necessarily brief interpretations on the classical humanism of Plato and Kant before considering the naturalistic approaches of Rousseau and Dewey. Next, I will explore the focus on the development of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in existentialist approaches and the political critique of society through critical-radicals pedagogues such as Freire. Arising from the argument that the critical nature of Said's democratic humanism provides an ethically desirable basis for contemporary education, the paper will conclude by posing questions around how humanism and humanistic education might be imagined in the future. Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-94
Issue number1
Early online date06 Sep 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Chatelier, S. (2015). Towards a renewed flourishing of humanistic education? Discourse, 36(1), 81-94. doi: 10.1080/01596306.2013.834635


  • Humanism
  • Posthumanism
  • Humanistic education
  • Edward Said
  • Ethics
  • Future of education


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