Towards Immanence in Education: From Emancipation to Responsibility

  • Joris Vlieghe
  • Piotr Zamojski
Part of the Contemporary Philosophies and Theories in Education book series (COPT, volume 11)


In this chapter we develop further the shift from a transcendent to an immanent approach towards education introduced in Chap.  5. We take the dominant logic of emancipation as a clear example of a transcendent approach, and the much less obvious logic of responsibility as the example of an immanent approach. The logic of emancipation is reconstructed in reference to the origin of the notion of emancipatio in Roman Law, and to its use in critical pedagogy. This logic is based on the assumption that there exists oppression in the present order of things and that this should be overcome in the future. In this way, the logic of emancipation engenders a relation with the world under the form of a double struggle: a fight against the present world of oppression, injustice, and inequality which is simultaneously a struggle for the desired world to come. In that case education is regarded as a means for a political aim. Contrary to this, one can also follow a logic of responsibility. This offers the possibility to take a relation to the world that is immanent to education. We reconstruct this logic with reference to the philosophy of Hans Jonas and Georg Picht. Responsibility stems from the assumption that human beings always have a particular and limited room for free action, and that one is responsible precisely for what is in the range of this power to act. Jonas and Picht argue that it is the sheer existence of an entity being in the range of this power that makes us responsible. Hence, responsibility is an ontological – and not a normative – relation between humans and the world. It regards a relation of care and attention.


  1. Adorno, T. W. (2003). Theorie der Halbbildung. In T. W. Adorno (Ed.), Gesammelte Schriften (Vol. 8). Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  2. Agamben, G. (2016). The use of bodies (A. Kotzko, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Arendt, H. (1961). The crisis in education. InBetween past and future: Eight exercises in political thought. New York: The Viking Press.Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle. (1921). Politica (B. Jowett, Trans.). In W. D. Ross (Ed.), The works of Aristotle (Vol. X). Oxford: University of Oxford Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bacon, F. (2003 [1620]). In L. Jardine & M. Silverthorne (Eds.), The new organon. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Benner, D. (2008). Reflexive versus affirmative emanzipation. Kwartalnik Pedagogiczny, 209(3), 59–68.Google Scholar
  7. Berger, A. (1953). Encyclopedic dictionary of Roman law. Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Biesta, G. J. J. (2010b). A new logic of emancipation. In C. Bingam, G. J. J. Biesta, & J. Rancière (Eds.), Jacques Rancière: Education, truth, emancipation. London/New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
  9. Bukland, W. W. (1928). A manual of Roman private law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Filek, J. (1996). Ontologizacja odpowiedzialności. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Baran i Suszczyński.Google Scholar
  11. Freire, P. (2005a). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Continuum: New York/London.Google Scholar
  12. Freire, P. (2005b). Education for critical consciousness. New York/London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  13. Giroux, H. A. (1983). Theory and resistance in education. A pedagogy for the opposition. South Hadley: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  14. Giroux, H. A. (1988). Teachers as intellectuals. Towards a critical pedagogy of learning. Westport/London: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar
  15. Giroux, H. A. (1997). Pedagogy and the politics of hope. Theory, culture and schooling. A critical reader. Boulder/Oxford: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  16. Giroux, H. A. (2011). On critical pedagogy. New York/London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  17. Gur-Ze’ev, I. (1998). Toward a nonrepressive critical pedagogy. Educational Theory, 48(4), 463–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Habermas, J. (1972). Knowledge and human interest (J. J. Shapiro, Trans.). Boston: Bacon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hartmann, N. (1932). Ethics. Volume II: Moral values (S. Coit, Trans.). London/New York: Macmillan Company/George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  20. Horkheimer, M., & Adorno, T. W. (2002). Dialectic of enlightenment (E. Jephcott, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Illich, I. (1995). Deschooling society. New York: Marion Boyars Publishers.Google Scholar
  22. Jonas, H. (1984). The imperative of responsibility. In search of an ethics for the technological age (H. Jonas & D. Herr, Trans.). Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kant, I. (1970). An answer to the question: ‘What is enlightenment? In H. S. Reiss (Ed.), Kant political writings (pp. 54–60) (H.B. Nisbet, Trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Laclau, E. (2007). Emancipation(s). London/New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  25. Levinas, E. (1994). Otherwise than being or beyond essence (A. Lingis, Trans.). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.Google Scholar
  26. Lewis, A. (2015a). Slavery, family and status. In D. Johnston (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Roman law. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Lewis, T. (2015b). On study: Giorgio Agamben and educational potentiality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. Maddock, T. (1999). The nature and limits of critical theory in education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 31(1), 43–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mollenhauer, K. (1968). Erziehung und Emanzipation. Polemische Skizzen. München: Juventa.Google Scholar
  30. Mousourakis, G. (2012). Fundaments of Roman private law. Heidelberg/New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Picht, G. (1969). Der Begriff der Verantwortung. In G. Picht (Ed.), Warheit, Vernuft, Verantwortung. Philosophische Studien. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.Google Scholar
  32. Picht, G. (1998). The concept of responsibility (W. Davis, Trans.). Religion 28(2), 185–203. Scholar
  33. Rancière, J. (1991). The ignorant schoolmaster (K. Ross, Trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Weiler, K. (1987). Women teaching for change: Gender, class and power. South Hadley: Bergin & Garvey.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joris Vlieghe
    • 1
  • Piotr Zamojski
    • 2
  1. 1.KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.University of GdańskGdańskPoland

Personalised recommendations