Tradition, Authority and Dialogue: Arendt and Alexander on Education

Foro de Educación 16 (24):21-40 (2018)
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In this paper I discuss two attempts to challenge mainstream liberal education, by Hannah Arendt and by contemporary Israeli philosopher Hanan Alexander. Arendt and Alexander both identify problems in liberal-secular modern politics and present alternatives based on reconnecting politics and education to tradition. I analyze their positions and bring them into a dialogue that suggests a complex conception of education that avoids many of the pitfalls of modern liberal thought. First, I outline Arendt and Alexander’s educational views and discuss their similarities, arguing that both may be understood as opposed to the modern attempt to adopt a «view from nowhere» at the world. Next, I suggest that Alexander’s view may benefit from adopting Arendt’s conceptions of tradition and authority. In the consecutive section, I argue that Alexander sheds light on significant problems in Arendt’s approach to education, problems his understanding of critical dialogue can help solve. The succeeding section joins the two views together to form an approach I call «critical traditionalism», and examines it against prevailing approaches to political education. I conclude by pointing to an important point overlooked by both Arendt and Alexander, namely the need for internal political struggle within each tradition.
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