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Unsettling Knowledge: Irony and Education

Smith, Richard

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Philosophy is sometimes thought of as having two principal dimensions: one that aims to build systems and doctrines, and another that is concerned to unsettle fixed ways of thinking. Richard Peters seems to position himself in both camps. I suggest that education in the UK today increasingly bears the marks of rigid thinking, largely as a result of the domination of neoliberal fundamentalism, and is in particular need of unsettling. This, I argue, was a major part of western philosophy's mission at what we think of as its birth in the work of Socrates and Plato's dialogues. In these texts too we see depicted the arrogance and complacency of characters who may sometimes remind us of our contemporaries. The Socratic irony that is evident everywhere in the dialogues is their undoing.


Smith, R. (2020). Unsettling Knowledge: Irony and Education. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 54(3), 757-771.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 2, 2020
Publication Date 2020-07
Deposit Date Jul 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 22, 2020
Journal Journal of Philosophy of Education
Print ISSN 0309-8249
Electronic ISSN 1467-9752
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 3
Pages 757-771


Published Journal Article (152 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
© 2020 The Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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