The contributors of this book all write in consciousness of and against a background of political change in their own countries and across the world. For some, these changes—for example, the collapse of apartheid in South Africa or of Soviet imperialism in Lithuania and Russia and the progress towards democratic institutions in Taiwan (Republic of China) and Malaysia—have been welcome and much celebrated though, when the immediate celebration has quietened, the political aftermath demands a more sober and complex response. For others, the ‘new medievalism’ in religious zealotry and the internationalisation of the market ideology, for example, are disturbing to in the one case their liberal, in the other their communitarian instincts. For all, however, their philosophical thinking is prompted by political and related educational developments in the world and is intended to inform the future course of those developments.
The chapters represent in this sense essays in applied philosophy, and I make no apology for including elements of history, narrative, politics and sociology among the more strictly philosophical ingredients. Indeed a number of the contributors (Whitty, Terry Phillips, John Phillips, Heathcote and Fogelman, for example) would certainly not identify themselves primarily as philosophers or philosophers of education, even if, as surely any serious academic should, they get drawn, as they do here, into philosophical ideas and reflection. I am pleased to represent in a New International Library of Philosophy of Education a collection of papers that move thus freely across boundaries which are routinely crossed in the intellectual life of continental Europe and many other communities but which are frequently over-nervously or over-zealously defended in the Anglo-American tradition.
Though the volume draws substantially from English contributors and exclusively from those fluent in the English language, it has some real basis for the international perspective which is a feature of the series in which it is published. Its contributors are drawn from every continent, though it makes no claims to reflect the full cultural or political diversity of the international community. Significant among the contributors are writers from the newly emerging democracies in South Africa, the Asian Pacific and the former