Learning to See with Different Eyes – A Nietzschean Challenge to Multicultural Dialogue

Empathy is a necessity in our multicultural world. Modern democratic societies are home to communities with the most diverse religious, political, and moral convictions, and these convictions often directly, even perilously, contradict one another. Educational theorists differ on how empathy can be taught in the face of these contradictions. Does proper pedagogical action entail an attempt to teach students to understand the other, to see their world through the eyes of the other? Or is such an attempt doomed to fail, a vain and presumptuous striving to surpass the epistemologically preordained limits of subjectivity? While theorists who promote mutual understanding traditionally look to some form of dialogue to establish their empathic pedagogies, those who doubt the possibility of mutual understanding formulate critical, often monological pedagogies in which students are encouraged to ‘‘talk back’’ to their others about their idiosyncratic perspectives. Theorists have thus had choose: dialogue or relativism? Using the robust educational philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, Douglas Yacek demonstrates that this is a most unsatisfactory choice, one that ignores the pedagogical complexity needed to teach students genuine empathy. He argues that Nietzsche’s educational writings yield a tripartite empathic pedagogy founded on self-knowledge, foreign language learning, and experimentalism. Upon these three pedagogical pillars, Yacek problematizes Megan Laverty’s recent attempt to formulate an empathic pedagogy as dialogical philosophical inquiry. Although Nietzsche would endorse much of Laverty’s pedagogy, Yacek concludes that Nietzsche’s pedagogy requires engagement with perspectives across the democratic curriculum and, indeed, beyond.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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