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01 November 2021
Humility in Educational Philosophy and Theory
Humility is regarded as beneficial for individuals, relationships, and society. It is believed to increase personal well-being and tolerance of difference, and enhance interpersonal relationships. Scholars recommend that schools educate young people for “cultural humility”, “democratic/civic humility”, and “intellectual humility”. Cultural humility involves self-reflection when interacting with individuals from different cultural backgrounds (Haynes-Mendez & Engelsmeier, 2020). Button (2016) recommends democratic humility as “recognition that we are in need of ethical dispositions in accordance with which we can live within the multiple and increasingly heightened tensions of our ontological-historical condition” (p. 855). Intellectual humility refers to accurate and sincere recognition of epistemic limitations of oneself and others (Pritchard, 2020; Spiegel, 2012; Tanesini, 2018).
Educating for humility could be regarded as an important element and goal of education as it helps students realise their limitations and consider different (even opposite) perspectives (Pritchard, 2020; Spiegel, 2012). However, as with other virtues, humility may be conceptualised and expressed differently across diverse cultural communities. In relation, how to educate for humility may look different in schools around the world. Meanwhile, some evidence suggests that education actually decreases people’s level of humility, particularly in western societies, at odds with the goals of those interested in moral and values education.
In western philosophy, humility is seen to have two components, as inwardly and outwardly directed: as a personal state, and a disposition toward others. Before the late nineteenth century, many western philosophers, such as Spinoza, Nietzsche, Kant, Sidgwick, and others following Aristotelian and liberal traditions, saw humility as a lack of rational understanding, self-abasement, or underestimation of moral worth. Since the last few decades, more scholars identify humility with non-overestimation of moral self-worth. In view of human vulnerabilities, they state that it is important to recognise human imperfections and develop a realistic sense of self.
Similar to western ideas, humility in Confucianism is an inner virtue and outward demeanour (Rushing, 2013). The fundamental ideas concerning human life purposes start with self-cultivation (修身) (Tu, 1985). With a view that “the self is both the seeker and the impeder” (Li, 2016, p. 153) in self-cultivation, Confucianism contends that self-conceit (自大), hubris (自负), arrogance (傲慢), and complacence (自以为是/洋洋得意) impede this process (Li, 2016; Rushing, 2013). These feelings are dangerous as they lead people to become self-satisfied, overestimate themselves, and make mistakes that can lead to moral and other kinds of failure.
Few researchers have comparatively examined philosophies of humility, and while many recommend its benefits, how to teach for humility within a particular cultural context, in light of the political challenges it may pose (e.g., political submission), has also not yet been systematically explored.
This call for papers invites explorations of the philosophical and theoretical roots underpinning different conceptions of humility, and their implications for education. We particularly invite contributions which:
- Compare the role of humility across different philosophical traditions (for example, East and West, or different religious and metaphysical views)
- Develop critical analyses of the political implications of promoting humility in education in different cultural and social contexts
- Trace how distinctive philosophical and political views of humility link to educational models and practices
- Consider humility in connection to views of self-other relations and amidst other complementary or competing virtues (for instance, vulnerability, courage, openness, prudence, and gratitude)
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Final papers for peer review should be no more than 6,000 words in length, including references. A guide for authors, sample issues, and other relevant information is available on the EPAT website https://pesa.org.au/our-publications.
In the first instance, please send abstracts to Liz Jackson at [email protected] by July 1st, 2021. Full papers are due by November 1st 2021.
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