Myths of Humanity: Cha(lle)nging the Future of Education

By Marta Nunes da Costa.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Education is one, if not the most, vital and pressing problems of contemporary western societies. On the one hand, the educational system claims to fulfill certain tasks,namely to prepare future citizens for an optimal integration and full participation in society. On the other hand, this system lacks to provide the minimum conditions that would make each individual’s integration and participation possible. In this paper I address some of the cha(lle)nges of education via the concept of humanity. My goal is to identify the role the category of Humanity plays (or should play) in Education today.
My paper has three moments. First, I address the question of the meaning(s) of ‘humanity’. Can ‘humanity’ be equated with human nature, is it (part of) the human condition, or is it a myth and/or ideal? If ‘humanity’ is a fact, i.e., (part of) the human condition, what role does it play in designing the future education? If, on the contrary, ‘humanity’ it is a myth and/or ideal, is it worth retaining it? Having the Kantian notes on education as starting point I provide an account of the role played by the concept of humanity in the emergence and establishment of the contemporary social philosophy and the art of education. I show how this establishment relied upon the concept of humanity, which created the precedent for an optimistic construction of the human destiny, as exemplified in the Kantian Critical philosophy. Second, after exposing some of the reasons which support the necessity attributed by Kant to (the postulate of) ‘humanity’, I argue that this concept should be retained and that it can play a determining role in building the education of the future. Finally, I advance some of the principles according to which contemporary challenges in education can be addressed and therefore changed.

Keywords: Education, Humanity, Kant, Cosmopolitanism, Equality, Freedom, Morality, Politics, Private Sphere, Public Sphere, Participation

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 9, pp.251-258. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 549.362KB).

Marta Nunes da Costa

Post Doctoral Fellow, Universidade de Lisboa, Faculdade de Letras, Centro de Filosofia, Cascais, Cascais, Portugal

I did my Ph.D. in Political Science with a dissertation entitled: ‘Redefining Individuality - reflections on Kant, Adorno and Foucault.’ My M.A. was in Philososophy with thesis entitled: ‘Moral autonomy and political freedom in Kant.’ Both degrees were at the New School for Social Research. My field of expertise is moral and political philosophy and I develop a personal research agenda governed by the concern of individual autonomy in its several aspects. Currently I am doing my Post-Doctoral Degree in Political Science-Philosophy, and I explore the multiple manifestations of autonomy in the social and politicum spectrum. I am particularly interested by questions on democracy, education,multiculturalism, identity, culture, globalization, new technologies, among others.

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