BSP Podcast: Emma Williams – Epistemology, Phenomenology and Education

podcast update

Season one of our podcast continues with another panel presentation from the British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference in 2016.

Season 1 episode 11: 28 April 2017

This recording is of Emma Williams’s presentation ‘The Ways We Think: Epistemology, Phenomenology and Education’. You can listen to this episode on the BSP’s Podbean site, and you can also find it on iTunes and all good podcasting apps by searching ‘BSP Podcast’.

Abstract: “The significance of phenomenology for the field of education has been demonstrated in a number of ways (e.g. Shaun Gallaghar, 2016; Michael Peters, 2009; Paul Standish, 2002). My paper, which forms part of a wider research project (Williams, 2016), aims to apply a phenomenological perspective to the educational question of critical thinking.  Affirmed as an indispensable feature of Western education (c.f. Martha Nussbaum, 2010), the development of critical thinking today forms an essential part of the learning objectives of many courses and qualifications across school and higher education. Yet educational theorizations of critical thinking – the question of what it is, or should, amount to – remain contentious. My paper aims to show how a phenomenology of thinking opens up a richer and more robust conception of critical thinking that than which currently dominates educational discussion. My paper will take, as its point of departure, the influential, ‘epistemological conception’ of critical thinking developed by Harvey Siegel. Siegel (1998) has claimed, in response to Charles Taylor, that phenomenology leaves his account of critical thinking ‘pretty much as it is’; yet my paper will argue that Siegel’s dismissal of phenomenology is too hasty. By extending Taylor’s discussion, and in particular his appeal to the Heideggerian tropes of the ‘background’ and the Lichtung, I will argue that phenomenology affords a conception of the ways we think – and the human being who thinks – which radically exceed the epistemological. Key to this will be the claim that Heidegger’s philosophy moves us beyond a representational model of thinking and towards a new view of thought as receptivity and responsiveness. My paper will end by examining the educational implications of this phenomenologically inspired conception – both in terms of what is called, and what calls for, thinking in education today.”

The British Society for Phenomenology’s Annual Conference took place at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK during September, 2016. It gathered together philosophers, literary scholars, phenomenologists, and practitioners exploring phenomenological theory and its practical application. It covered a broad range of areas and issues including the arts, ethics, medical humanities, mental health, education, technology, feminism, politics and political governance, with contributions throwing a new light on both traditional phenomenological thinkers and the themes associated with classical phenomenology. More information about the conference can be found here.