Ecosocial Philosophy of Education: Ecologizing the Opinionated Self

Jani Pulkki, Jan Varpanen, John Mullen

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9 Scopus citations


While human beings generally act prosocially towards one another — contra a Hobbesian “war of all against all” — this basic social courtesy tends not to be extended to our relations with the more-than-human world. Educational philosophy is largely grounded in a worldview that privileges human-centered conceptions of the self, valuing its own opinions with little regard for the ecological realities undergirding it. This hyper-separation from the ‘society of all beings’ is a foundational cause of our current ecological crises. In this paper, we develop an ecosocial philosophy of education (ESPE) based on the idea of an ecological self. We aspire to consolidate voices from deep ecology and ecofeminism for conceptualizing education in terms of being responsible to and for, a complex web of interdependent relations among human and more-than-human beings. By analyzing the notion of opinions in light of Gilles Deleuze’s critique of the ‘dogmatic image of thought,’ we formulate three aspects of ESPE capable of supporting an ecological as opposed to an egoistic conception of the self: (i) rather than dealing with fixed concepts, ESPE supports adaptable and flexible boundaries between the self and the world; (ii) rather than fixating on correct answers, ESPE focuses on real-life problems shifting our concern from the self to the world; and (iii) rather than supporting arrogance, EPSE cultivates an epistemic humility grounded in our ecological embeddedness in the world. These approaches seek to enable an education that cultivates a sense of self that is less caught up with arbitrary, egoistic opinions of the self and more attuned to the ecological realities constituting our collective life-worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-364
Number of pages18
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Philosophy


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