Educational Philosophy and Theory Special Issue Book Series

Series Editor: Michael A. Peters

The Educational Philosophy and Theory journal publishes articles concerned with all aspects of educational philosophy. Their themed special issues are also available to buy in book format and cover subjects ranging from curriculum theory, educational administration, the politics of education, educational history, educational policy, and higher education.

Titles in the series include:

Thinking Education Through Alain Badiou

Edited by Kent den Heyer

Toleration, Respect and Recognition in Education

Edited by Mitja Sardoc.jpg

Gramsci and Educational Thought

Edited by Peter Mayo

Patriotism and Citizenship Education

Edited by Bruce Haynes

Exploring Education Through Phenomenology: Diverse Approaches

Edited by Gloria Dall’Alba

Academic Writing, Philosophy and Genre

Edited by Michael A. Peters

Complexity Theory and the Philosophy of Education

Edited by Mark Mason

Critical Thinking and Learning

Edited by Mark Mason

Philosophy of Early Childhood Education: Transforming Narratives

Edited by Sandy Farquhar and Peter Fitzsimons

The Learning Society from the Perspective of Governmentality

Edited by Jan Masschelein, Maarten Simons, Ulrich Bröckling and Ludwig Pongratz

Citizenship, Inclusion and Democracy: A Symposium on Iris Marion Young

Edited by Mitja Sardoc

Postfoundationalist Themes In The Philosophy of Education: Festschrift for James D. Marshall

Edited by Paul Smeyers (Editor), Michael A. Peters

Music Education for the New Millennium: Theory and Practice Futures for Music Teaching and Learning

Edited by David Lines

Critical Pedagogy and Race

Edited by Zeus Leonardo

Derrida, Deconstruction and Education: Ethics of Pedagogy and Research

Edited by Peter Pericles Trifonas and Michael A. Peters


Notes on Contributors

Charles Barbour is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and a member of the Centre for Citizenship and Public and Policy; email: . Along with a number of book chapters, he has published on social and political theory in journals such as Theory, Culture and Society,Philosophy and Social Criticism, Law, Culture and the Humanities,Telos, and The Journal of Classical Sociology. Most recently, he co-edited, with George Pavlich, a book entitled After Sovereignty: On the question of political beginnings (Routledge-Cavendish).

Kent den Heyer is an Associate Professor of social studies and curriculum studies in the Department of Secondary Education, University of Alberta; email: . His recent work exploring the implications of Badiou’s work for education includes ‘Education as an Affirmative Invention: Alain Badiou and the purpose of teaching and curriculum’ in Educational Theory, 59.4, pp. 441–463 and ‘What if Curriculum (of a Certain Kind) Doesn’t Matter?’ in Curriculum Inquiry, 39.1, pp. 27–40.

jan jagodzinski is a Professor in the Department of Secondary Education, University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where he teaches visual art and media education and curricular issues as they relate to postmodern concerns of gender politics, cultural studies, and media (film and television); email: . He is a founding member of the Caucus on Social Theory in Art Education (NAEA), past editor of The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education (JSTAE), past president of SIG Media, Culture and Curriculum, Editorial Board Member for Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society (PCS), on the Editorial Advisory Board of Studies in Art Education (SAE), Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT), Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education (JCRAE), and the Korean Journal of Art Education, reviewer for Visual Culture & Gender, Associate Editor of Journal of Lacanian Studies (JLS); and Co-series editor with Mark Bracher of the book series Pedagogy, Psychoanalysis,Transformation (Palgrave Press). He is the author of The Anamorphic I/i (Duval House Publishing Inc, 1996); Postmodern Dilemmas: Outrageous essays in art & art education (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997); Pun(k) Deconstruction: Experifigural writings in art & art education (Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997); Editor of Pedagogical Desire: Transference, seduction and the question of ethics (Bergin & Garvey, 2002); Youth Fantasies: The perverse landscape of the media (Palgrave, 2004); Musical Fantasies: A Lacanian approach (Palgrave, 2005); Television and Youth: Televised paranoia (Palgrave, 2008); and Art and its Education in an era of Designer Capitalism: The deconstruction of the oral eye (2010).

James G. Henderson is Professor of Curriculum at Kent State University, where he teaches courses in Curriculum Theory, Research, and Leadership; email: . He is the coordinator of the college’s C&I Master’s Degree and PhD programs and co-editor of the Jou rnal of Curriculum and Pedagogy. His scholarly interests focus on democratic curriculum wisdom and its implications for professional development, reflective practice, and curriculum leadership, and he has authored, co-authored and co-edited four books on these topics, two of which are currently in their third editions. Currently, he is working with curriculum leaders in Ohio on the creation of an online Curriculum Leadership Institute.

Kathleen R. Kesson is Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University, where she teaches courses in the foundations of education and teacher research and coordinates the Childhood Urban Education program; email: She is co-author, with Jim Henderson, of Curriculum Wisdom: Educational decisions in democratic societies (Prentice Hall, 2004) and Understanding Democratic Curriculum Leadership (Teachers College Press, 1999), and editor, with Wayne Ross, of Defending Public Schools:Teaching for a Democratic Society (Praeger, 2004). She is also the author of numerous book chapters, book reviews, and academic articles in such journals as Educational Researcher, Teachers College Record, Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, the Journal of Critical Education Policy Studies, English Education, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Curriculum Inquiry, and the Holistic Education Review. Her interests are in the areas of democracy in education, critical pedagogy, aesthetics and education, and teacher inquiry and reflection.

Thomas E. Peterson is Professor of Italian at the University of Georgia; His primary research interests are in the areas of Italian lyric and epic poetry (Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, Leopardi, Pascoli, the poets of the 20th century) and the Italian novel. His research in educational philosophy has its origins in his study of Vico and Whitehead and the process philosophy tradition; current research seeks to connect that tradition to the work of (among others) Dewey, Peirce, Cassirer, Gregory and Mary Catherine Bateson, Francisco Varela and Heinz von Foerster.

Anna Strhan is in the process of completing a PhD at the Institute of Education, London, on conceptualisations of subjectivity and its relation to teaching in the writings of Emmanuel Levinas and Alain Badiou; email: She has worked as a teacher of Religious Studies and Philosophy in a range of secondary schools, and will shortly begin an ethnographic study exploring the formation of Evangelical lifeworlds in London.

Peter Taubman is a Professor of education in the School of Education at Brooklyn College; email: . His articles on curriculum, autobiography, teacher identity, classroom teaching, psychoanalysis and the problems with standards and accountability have appeared in a range of scholarly journals. He is the co-author of Understanding Curriculum (Peter Lang, 1995) and the author of Teaching by Numbers: Deconstructing the discourse of standards and accountability (Routledge, 2009). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and teaching.



Alain Badiou (1937–)

This special issue on the thought of Alain Badiou edited by Kent den Heyer presents the relevance and significance of one of France’s most distinguished living philosophers: a student of Althusser, formerly chair of philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, author of more than twenty books, and a thinker in the Marxist tradition. As an Athusserian Marxist strongly influenced by Lacan, Badiou engaged in fierce debates with both Deleuze and Lyotard in the 1970s. Badiou’s (2005) Being and Event translated into English seventeen years after its original French publication indicates something of the cultural delay in the reception of his work in the English-speaking world. A work of monumental significance, it has been compared to Heidegger’s Being and Time and Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition in its metaphysical outlook and also its willingness to engage with fundamental ontology on the basis of modern set theory with the famous formulation ‘mathematics = ontology’ (p. 4), which is not a thesis that suggests being is mathematical but rather declares what is expressible of being, and thus is a thesis about discourse. This is also, after structuralism and poststructuralism, some would say a reengagement with the philosophy of the subject and in this sense already a thesis important for politics, art and education, as a number of the contributors to this collection indicate.

As the biography posted on the Faculty Page at the European Graduate School where Badiou teaches notes:

Trained as a mathematician, Alain Badiou is one of the most original French philosophers today. Influenced by Plato, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze, he is an outspoken critic of both the analytic as well as the postmodern schools of thoughts. His philosophy seeks to expose and make sense of the potential of radical innovation (revolution, invention, transfiguration) in every situation.

Unlike many of those schooled in the anti-humanist principles of Louis Pierre Althusser and Jacques Lacan, Alain Badiou has never been tempted to celebrate the apparent end of philosophy, to question the possibility of metaphysics, or to qualify the classical attributes of truth: rigor, clarity, and eternity.

Badiou is someone who positions himself against the tide of anti-Platonism. Johannes Thumfart (2008) helpfully indicates:

Badiou writes that today’s most important political and theoretical values – Becoming (Nietzsche), Language (Wittgenstein), Sociality (Marx), Existence (Sartre), Process (Heidegger) and Political Pluralism (Popper) – can be identified by their differing forms of modern Anti-Platonisms.

The most influential inconsistency is probably the analytical philosophers’ Anti-Platonism. Wittgenstein and Carnap especially attacked Plato because of his granting an eternal and unchangeable status to mathematical objects. Badiou notes that the analytical project of reducing all properties of mathematical and other objects of formal language to mere conventions is still to be debated and that the analytical philosophers too quickly eliminated any idealistic concept of language. The Anti-Platonism of analytical philosophy must, therefore, be re-thought ().

Badiou is also someone who has increasingly found himself surrounded by controversy: for his publication in 2005 of ‘The Uses of the Word “Jew”’ and more recently for his The Meaning of Sarkozy (Badiou, 2008). He appeared recently on the BBC program HardTalk where he was interviewed about his support for ‘communism’ replying that that the mere fact that the ‘first attempts’ to achieve communism ‘failed’ does not in any way amount to a proving of the idea itself to be false or in itself impossible to reach. Ramsey (2009) reviewing his interview positively taking Badiou’s comment—‘Never accept something as legitimate [just] because it is dominant’—as a starting point to suggest:

Badiou has done brilliant work exposing the contradictions, limitations, and hypocrisies that are embedded in dominant modes of contemporary thought, (including electoralism, liberal multiculturalism, and humanitarianism, including the discourse of human rights).

While undoubtedly an important and influential philosopher and certainly one that also belongs in a special issue for this book, it is also the case that Badiou is written little on education. As Thomas Petersen and other contributors acknowledge it is only in the essay ‘Art and Philosophy’ from Handbook of Inaesthetics, that Badiou addresses education directly discussing the link between art and philosophy in terms of the ‘pedagogical theme’, which has collapsed. I shall not repeat the analysis better performed by the contributors except to note that Badiou declares ‘the only education is an education by truths’. As A. J. Bartlett (2006: 53) comments, in this light Badiou invents a threefold analytical schema:

The didactic schema operates a pedagogy of surveillance, the romantic, a pedagogy of authentic identity as alienation, and the classical, a pedagogy of public service or state ethics. Thus, we can say, subtracting from Badiou’s otherwise occupied assessment, that surveillance, identity, and ethics make up, the pedagogical forms inherent to the ‘saturated’ 20th century.

And he goes on to comment:

On Badiou’s terms, education is that which makes the necessary arrangements for the manifestation of truths which are not opinions and which signify therefore the possibility for some other, new (political etc.) configuration. In fact using Badiou’s analysis it is not going to [sic] far to claim that as our democracies are manifestations of the organized rule of opinion then the state system of education for which our democracies are responsible is without truth, without thought, and thus cannot operate other than as either ‘oppressive or perverted’ or indeed as both (p. 54).

Here is a trenchant critique of state education every bit as forceful as Freire’s ‘banking’ concept and one that teaches us that to educate is to transform, as Barlett (2006) remarks:

Thus education amounts to either ‘being’ or, ‘to have been’ transformed. The questions, of course, are: by what, from what, to what? Is it by the state whose goal is perpetuation and whose method thereby is predicated on meiosistic repetition or, in Althusser’s more ‘structural’ terms reproduction (of the relations of production)? Or is it by truths and thus to be transformed without predicate, educated without? (p. 58)

I am grateful to Kent den Heyer for organizing and editing this special and to him and his contributors for gracing the book with the work and analysis of Badiou’s philosophy.


. Photo credit is from the Faculty Page at the European Graduate School which lists his works including online works and also secondary sources at /.

. Badiou trained as a mathematician and he refers and uses Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory with the axiom of choice which is a standard axiomatic and foundation for mathematics, founded on a single primitive ontological notion namely that all individuals in the universe of discourse are sets. Axiom 9 is drawn from axioms 1–8 and is known as the ‘axiom of choice’ formulated by Ernst Zermelo in 1904 roughly to suggest that any collection of bins, each containing at least one object, it is possible to make a selection of exactly one object from each bin, even if there is an infinite number of bins and there is no ‘rule’ for which object to pick from each. See the entry on set theory by Thomas Jech (2002) at /.

. See .

. See .

. See /.


Badiou, Alain (2004) ‘Art and Philosophy’ from Handbook of Inaesthetics, A. Toscano trans. (Stanford, Stanford University Press).

Badiou, Alain (2005) Being and Event, O. Feltham trans. (New York, Continuum). Badiou, Alain (2008) The Meaning of Sarkozy (New York, Verso).

Bartlett, A. J. (2006) Conditional Notes on a New Republic, Cosmos and History, The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 2: 1–2.

Ramsey, J. (2009) Thoughts on Badiou’s HardTalk Interview, Khukuri: Toward a Radical Conception of Revolutionary Theory, at /.

Thumfart, Johannes (2008) Learning from Las Vegas, The Symptom 9, at .

Michael A. Peters

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign