Preston Branch Virtual Seminar

Nature, Nature and nature.  Problems with the educational metaphor in Rousseau’s Emile via Derrida’s Of Grammatology

Nicholas Stock, PhD student, University of Birmingham

This paper readdresses both Rousseau’s Emile and its treatment by Derrida in Of Grammatology so to consider the problems with the essentiality of the metaphor of nature in educational discourse.  I contend that the metaphor of nature as found in these texts functions as a structural concept that education relies upon, though when interrogated this reveals numerous educational issues.  Nature has several connotations, be it the innate, that which is free from human hands, or the pastoral.  Rousseau draws on all these connotations in his educational treatise, something that Derrida interrogates with an overturning of the nature/culture binary.  What this paper goes on to propose is how these different aspects of the metaphor make claims to reveal the world, but rather, they are actually that of a deworlding.  And yet, what we find is that such metaphors are still embraced with gusto in many areas of educational thought. 
Nick Stock is a postgraduate researcher in Philosophy of Education in his final year of study at University of Birmingham.  He also lectures English Literature at a Sixth Form College.  His interests lie in ironic and radical approaches to educational thinking, particularly poststructuralism.

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