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date: 02 December 2021

Bildung from Paideia to the Modern Subjectlocked

Bildung from Paideia to the Modern Subjectlocked

  • Ingerid StraumeIngerid StraumeUniversity of Oslo

Summary

The concept of bildung plays a central role in the history of European philosophy of education. Broadly speaking, the concept refers to the interplay between cultural, personal, and educational processes whose concrete contents vary with time and place but with an enduring interest in the self-formation of the subject. From the paideia of Greek antiquity via European modernization and beyond, bildung has been viewed as the true goal of educational processes, more essential than the fostering of skills and competences. Bildung ideals vary with cultural and social imaginaries. Along with the general bildung ideals that exist in all cultures, a more emphatic interest in the question of bildung—what it means and what it ought to mean—can be traced in the Graeco-Western tradition. In various languages and forms, notably as paideia, Bildung, and danning, this self-reflexive and sometimes contested notion can be seen as a catalyst for these societies’ capacity for self-reflection. Three historical phases of bildung theory stand out in this respect: the Greek polis democracy, 508–322 bce, Germany in the period 1770–1830, and the Scandinavian nation-building period, 1850–1900. In these very different historical contexts, the question of bildung, what it means, and what it ought to mean, can be seen to have stimulated self-reflection and self-formation at the individual, sociohistorical, and institutional levels of the societies in question. This complexity of the concept of bildung and its related paradoxes makes it an enduring source of philosophical and practical inquiry, as well as a focus point for social transformation.

Subjects

  • Educational Theories and Philosophies

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