Naming the Multiple: Poststructuralism and Education

Naming the Multiple: Poststructuralism and Education

Naming the Multiple: Poststructuralism and Education

Naming the Multiple: Poststructuralism and Education


Poststructuralism--as a name for a mode of thinking, a style of philosophizing, a kind of writing--has exercised a profound influence upon contemporary Western thought and the institution of the university. As a French and predominantly Parisian affair, poststructuralism is inseparable from the intellectual milieu of postwar France, a world dominated by Alexandre Kojeve's and Jean Hyppolite's interpretations of Hegel, Jacques Lacan's reading of Freud, Gaston Bachelard's epistemology, George Canguilhem's studies of science, and Jean-Paul Sartre's existentialism. It is also inseparable from the "structuralist" tradition of linguistics based upon the work of Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jacobson, and the structuralist interpretations of Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Louis Althusser, and the early Michel Foucault. Poststructuralism, considered in terms of contemporary cultural history, can be understood as belonging to the broad movement of European formalism, with explicit historical linksto both Formalist and Futurist linguistics and poetics, and with aspects of the European avant-garde, especially Andre Breton's surrealism. Each essay in this unique collection by and for educators is devoted to the work and educational significance of one of ten major poststructuralist philosophers.


Becoming isn't part of history; history amounts only the set of preconditions, however recent, that one leaves behind in order to "become," that is, to create something new. This is precisely what Nietzsche calls the Untimely.

-- Deleuze, 1995: 171

Assuming one thinks of a philosopher as a great educator, powerful enough to draw up to his lonely height a long chain of generations, then one must also grant him the uncanny privileges of the great educator. An educator never says what he himself thinks, but always only what he thinks of a thing in relation to the requirements of those he educates. He must not be detected in this dissimulation; it is part of his mastery that one believes in his honesty. He must be capable of employing every means of discipline: some he can drive toward the heights only with whips of scorn; others, who are sluggish, irresolute, cowardly, vain, perhaps only with exaggerated praise. Such an educator is beyond good and evil; but no one must know it.

-- Nietzsche, 1968: 512-13


Poststructuralism . . . is not oriented simply toward the negation of theoretical foundations, but rather toward the exploration of new grounds for philosophical and political inquiry; it is involved not simply in the rejection of the tradition of political and philosophical . . .

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