PESGB Annual Conference location:Oxford date:28-30 July 2007
In this paper I discuss some thoughts Judith Butler presents regarding corporeal vulnerability. This might help to elucidate the problem whether critical education is still possible today. I first explain why precisely the possibility of critique within education is a problem for us today. This is because the traditional means to enhance a critical attitude within pupils, stimulating their self-reflective capacities, contributes to the continued existence and strengthening of the current societal and political regime. A way out of this deadlock is offered from within a foucaultian perspective. Criticality here refers to an experience of exposure and expropriation of the self. This kind of limit-experience is also of a central importance in the most recent work of Judith Butler. She links this experience to the corporeal condition of susceptibility. Our bodies have a public dimension as we are inescapable exposed to one another. The main argument of my paper has to do with the question whether this appeal to corporeal vulnerability might grant a new way to think about the public realm and about the possibility of critique, especially within he field of education. I conclude this paper by showing the originality of Butler’s concept and the possibilities it opens to think in a radical new way about critical pedagogy.