Begun in 2008, it's unlikely that I'll regularly make entries to this blog, so do check my main site at

This blog is more likely to include posts of a political nature - and one that requires sisu on the part of many!

Archives dated prior to March 2008 are entries moved across from either LiveJournal or Octant.

Recent Posts


Philosophy Conference (July 2015)

The 2015 COMIUCAP Conference is to be held at the A.C.U. in Melbourne on the 22-22 in July, with the focus:

Philosophy’s Role in a Renewed Understanding of the Meaning of Education

> Conference link

ACU Philosophy Conference

Of especial interest was the description in the call to papers, which I quote at length:

Education has been widely criticised as being too narrowly focused on skills, capacities and the transference of knowledge that can be used in the workplace. As a result of the dominance of economic rationalism and neo-liberalism, it has become commodified and marketed to potential customers. As a consequence, students have become consumers of an educational product and education has become an industry. As Heidegger hypothesised, this has seen a shift in the organisation of educational institutions so that they are now organised along the lines of an industrial corporation. In its extreme form, this leads to
an organisation in which a managerial elite controls the means of production of educational products, develops new products according what to marketing modelling suggests consumers want to buy and discards those that are failing to sell. Tasks are divided amongst product developers and product deliverers. The process is overseen by supervisors whose task is to ensure quality assurance of the product, so that consumers receive what they have paid for. The power of technology has been harnessed to help develop products that can be consumed online, without the need of any interaction between students and teachers. The phenomenon of MOOCs is the ultimate sign of how far and how deep commodification has become entrenched in education.

There is deep dissatisfaction with these neo-liberal developments. What is missing is any conception of education as a formation of human persons so that they develop the virtues and values that they need to not only lead successful lives, but also be responsible members of their communities, working for the common good and acting to transform them into just societies. The notion of human formation as central to education is a hallmark of not only the Catholic intellectual tradition, but also of the Confucian tradition. Religion and culture have a crucial role to play in transmitting the values and beliefs that have underpinned the thought that education is about the initiation of persons into the life of a community and its continuance through the building of just structures and commitment to the common good. It implies a creation of a civil society that can act as a mediator between the power of the State and that of the market. This suggests a much richer notion of education than the neoliberal model. The central question with which the conference will be concerned is the role of philosophy in fostering a renewed understanding of education as the formation of persons and of civil society.

Papers are invited to contribute to the following themes:

  • The place of religion in education;
  • Moral education in a secular society;
  • The transmission of culture as an educational aim;
  • Religious and cultural conceptions of the human person: similarities and differences among cultures;
  • Cultural and religious differences in the aims of education;
  • The market and the State: their role in education;
  • The place of the humanities and the sciences in education;
  • Conceptions of civil society and its formation;
  • The role of the Church in civil society.

Other papers may be accepted at the discretion of the Conference committee.


With such a description it was simply too good to miss an opportunity to participate… and so here is my preliminary abstract to a paper I have yet to complete:

The Practical Role of Philosophy in Teacher Formation: understanding and morality.

Teachers daily face fundamental questions pertaining to both insight and to the moral dimension of actions. In addition, teachers, whether conscious or not, have implicit operational views on the nature of knowledge and ethics. There is also, unfortunately, little doubt that all too many non-philosophers tend to undervalue, if not downright negate, the intrinsic importance of philosophy as well as its intrumental role in bringing to light our own developing sense for what has traditionally been considered under the rubric of ‘the True, the Good and the Beautiful’. I argue that unless the teacher develops an ongoing understanding of their own epistemological, ethical and aesthetic views, judgements remain diminished.

The paper addresses the practical role of philosophy in addressing how to make more explicit and develop a lasting impression on the importance of insights into epistemology, ethics and aesthetic value. The discussion is framed by, and arises out of, considerations taken predominantly from the works of Rudolf Steiner, Bernard Lonergan, and John Deely and systematically developed in a manner that differentiates between four levels: that of experience; of object-formation; of judgement; and of ethical action.

You must be logged in to post a comment.