Higher Education and Democracy’s Promise: Jacques Derrida’s Pedagogy of Uncertainty

  • Henry A. Giroux


During the last two decades Jacques Derrida has made a number of important and crucial interventions regarding the relationship between democracy and the purpose and meaning of higher education. Democracy, for Derrida, is not merely a social—historical creation, but also contains a promise of what is to come. And it is precisely in the tension between the dream and the reality of democracy that a space of agency, critique, and education opens up, which signals both the normative and political character of democracy. But, as Derrida is well aware, democracy also demands a pedagogical intervention organized around the need to create the conditions for educating citizens who have the knowledge and skills to participate in public life, question institutional authority, and engage the contradiction between the reality and promise of democracy. Pedagogy, in this sense, is central to democracy because it represents an essential dimension of justice, offering the conditions necessary for individuals to become autonomous in order to make choices, participate in and shape public life, and develop a socially committed notion of justice.


High Education Social Contract Public Sphere Public Life Critical Pedagogy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Peter Pericles Trifonas and Michael A. Peters 2005

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  • Henry A. Giroux

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