Edwards R the End of Lifelong Learning Posthumanism Barad Subject vs Entanglement

Education theory educational psychology
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  EBSCO Publishing Citation Format: APA (American Psychological Assoc.): NOTE:   Review the instructions at any necessary corrections before using. Pay special attention to personal names, capitalization,and dates.  Always consult your library resources for the exact formatting and punctuation guidelines. References Edwards, R. (2010). The End of Lifelong Learning: A Post-Human Condition?. Studies In The Education Of  Adults , 42  (1), 5-17.<!--Additional Information:Persistent link to this record (Permalink): AN=EJ891140&site=ehost-liveEnd of citation--> The end of lifelong learning: A post-human condition? This article explores the significance of theories of the post-human for lifelong learning. Drawingupon the works of Karen Barad and Bruno Latour, it suggests that education has focused on thelearning subject as a result of an a priori assumption of a separation of matter from meaning, theobject from the subject. By contrast, a post-human intervention points to the constant materialentanglement of the human and non-human in the enactment of the world, and thus the problematicstatus of subjects and objects as separate from one another. This contrast is examined in relation tothe distinction made by Latour between matters of fact/objects and matters of concern/things. Thearticle suggests that a post-human condition could signal the end of lifelong learning and provide arationale for responsible! experimentation as a way of enacting an educational purpose.The approach I am trying to work for is rigorously committed to testing and attesting. To engage inand understand that this is always an interpretative, engaged, contingent, fallible engagement. It isnever a disengaged account. (Haraway, 2000: 160).The crucial philosophical question pertaining to reality was; how can we be sure? Now, after the turnto practice, we confront another question; how to live with doubt? (Mol, 2002: 165, emphasis insrcinal) Prelude This article is a thing, a gathering around a matter of concern. There is a gathering in the writing of the text, its editing and publication, and its reading. It is therefore a gathering across space and time,a thing that changes, translates and betrays (Latour, 1996) in the process of its gathering. This mayappear a strange beginning for an article on lifelong learning, but this is deliberately so, given that thewriting is intended as a transgressive intervention and not simply to be about something. It is anintervention that may not encourage gathering — you may decide not to read the article preciselybecause of its ’off-putting’ beginning. However, I hope by the end of this writing experiment that theconcerning matter has become a gathering, a thing and you are part of it. EBSCOhost of 12 10/27/2014 6:31 AM  Introduction More conventionally, this article aims to extend the discussion of lifelong learning by outlining someof the post-human positions which have become influential in research elsewhere. It also seeks todraw out some of the possible implications for education of such positions. In the process, I havereflexively attempted to experiment in the writing of this article, drawing upon the post-humanpositions to which I refer. The article aims therefore not to be simply about post-humanism andlifelong learning, but more an experiment in post-humanism and lifelong learning.Freud once wrote that education is an impossible profession, as it is unable to mandate the future.This inability to mandate is now manifested in some of the contemporary discourses of lifelonglearning, where the latter is a constant form of apprenticeship (Edwards, 2008). While, for some,lifelong learning is integrally linked to the now seemingly failed project of neo-liberalism, this articlewill explore lifelong learning as possibly a post-human condition and, with that, I will suggest itsignals its own ending. The question that then emerges is, if lifelong learning is no longer a purposefor education, what is? This then is my matter of concern.The article suggests that while Lyotard (1984) argued that the post-modern condition of knowledgewas one of incredulity to grand narratives, this could be extended to an ontological condition, thelifelong learning condition. Here, even as they continue to be articulated ever more stridently, there isan incredulity to the notion that there are over-arching justifications for human existence. This arisesnot least because of the ecological and material uncertainties to which worldly human andnon-human existence is subject, what Beck (1992) referred to as risk society. What I am suggestingis that Lyotard’s argument for the post-modern condition of knowledge points to the collapse of representationalism as an a priori way of being in the world and signifies a post-human condition of existence with significant implications for education and lifelong learning.Post-humanism has been the subject of much debate in recent decades in many branches of the artsand social sciences. It has become an issue in debates in medicine as the scope of technologicaland genetic manipulation and bodily enhancement has extended. However, it has had little attentionin the discussion of adult education and lifelong learning. I am not using post-humanism here tosimply refer to a gathering after humanism and after the death of the Renaissance human subject.Nor am I using it to refer to those who advocate a dys/u-topian future of genetically modifiedembodied technologies, although both have resonances in what follows. In this article,post-humanism refers to an enactment that deconstructs the separation of subjects and objects and,with that, the focus on the human subject as either a representative of an essentialised human natureor in a state of constant becoming. However, it is also the case that this deconstruction requires asubject and object to deconstruct. It is important then that the ’post-’ is not read as ’anti-’, but that willdepend on what and who are gathered in the writing and reading of this article. As with Lyotard’s(1992) reflections on the post in post-modernism, therefore, the post in post-humanism is constantlyat play with precisely that which it deconstructs. It is not ’after’ in terms of going beyond, but in termsof offering a constant experimentation with or questioning of the human (Badmington, 2003).This argument follows work derived from and which gathers together aspects of pragmatistphilosophy, Heidegger, post-structuralism, actor-network theory and feminism. It is an argument that,in attempting to gather many actants, seeks to engender a solidity to the thing to be enacted. Toosimply, it is an argument that follows from a focus on ontology rather than representation. However,the focus on ontology is not human- or subject-centric, but points to the entanglement of the human EBSCOhost of 12 10/27/2014 6:31 AM  and non-human, as without the non-human, humans would neither exist nor be able to act as part of the world. People are always already in assemblage with(in) worlds. As Harraway (2003, p. 54) putsit, ’humans are already congeries of things that are not us. We are not self-identical’. In our age of ubiquitous digitalisation, this is sometimes referred to as a cyborg condition (Gough, 2004), whichpoints to the entanglement of the fleshy and technical and the materiality of things.I will argue that central to this post-human condition could be (rather than should be) entanglementsin the world that entail practices of conditionality, including fallibility — experimentation and thepossibility of failure (i.e. things falling apart) and responsibility — responding to others and otherness.These are the practices that can be developed as a response to the incredulity there can be towardgrand narratives of human existence. In gathering this discussion, I shall also make the claim that apost-human condition could point to the end of lifelong learning rather than the latter being a part of that condition. If, as has been argued by some (Rose, 1989), the practices of learning and thepsy-disciplines have been integral to the centring of the human subject, I shall argue that apost-human condition may not be one of learning as we have tended to understand it, that is,learning about objects by subjects.This article then is an experiment, itself fraught with conditionality, fallibility and responsibility. It is anattempt at an intervention and interruption into the practices of lifelong learning, including thepractices of representing lifelong learning — that which it is about. It is too simplistic to suggest that itis a shift from epistemology to ontology as each entails the other. What I want to suggest is that thetype of debates that have been going on about lifelong learning arise from positioning it solely withina representational binary that separates matter and meaning, substance and significance, object andsubject, where the latter is grounded in some notion of human nature purified of other matters. I willoutline this argument in the next section. I will then go on to suggest that lifelong learning could bere-positioned within a certain performative, post-human ethico-epistemontology (Barad, 2007),wherein there is an entanglement of things; ’things as question, as provocation, incitement, or enigma’ (Grosz, 2009, p. 125). However, insofar as it is entangled, the practices of learning bysubjects become themselves troubled as a way of theoretically enacting education. This positioningentails approaching what we do differently in order to make a difference. It entails more gathering,less objecting — enacting a post-human condition as a thing. Representing and experimenting There is often a tendency in the discussion of lifelong learning, and in relation to education moregenerally, to have to start from the beginning in everything that is written. Of course, srcins aremyths and any such requirement is itself always already part of the regulatory practices in knowledgeproduction, placing constraints on experimentation on the basis of a rigour that can come close torigor mortis at times. I write this not out of arrogance, but out of frustration that debates in the wider intellectual environment seem mostly to be purified from the discussion of lifelong learning, or to bemarginalised to those with an interest in theory. As a result, lifelong learning largely remains anunder-theorised object. Thus, for this section of the article, while rehearsing some footings for myoverall discussion, I claim little srcinal or seek the srcins to that which I write. I gather words.There has been sustained critique over decades now of the binaries that shape what is positionedcrudely as a Western sensibility. These binaries are held to structure our ways of theorising andintervening, providing the conditions of possibility for how we might act in the world. A criticalphilosophical binary is that between epistemology and ontology, where the former, which focuses on EBSCOhost of 12 10/27/2014 6:31 AM  how we can know something, has been the primary focus of concern. Yet such binaries alreadyassume what they produce, insofar as the focus on knowing already presumes a relationshipbetween matter and meaning, object and subject, which themselves are positioned as separate fromeach other. A number of binaries can be found in the discussions of and research in lifelong learning whichalready assumes an epistemological-ontological separation. For instance, we can distinguish: epistemology ontologymeaning mattersignificance substancesubject objecttheory practiceknowing becomingapparent realreflecting interveningthinking doingrepresenting experimenting Insofar as they are accepted, such binaries establish the terms of debate. In relation to theseparation of matter from meaning, then the question arises over how we can represent the former ina meaningful way. Anthropologists explore these issues in their studies of cultural artefacts and their significance (Henare et al., 2007). However, meaningful is not necessarily truthful in the senses wehave come to associate with the practices of the sciences — natural and social. Much space hasbeen given to pursuing the ways in which humans can establish the truthfulness of the meaningsthrough which we represent matter. This in itself presumes a separation of the subject from the objectwith the associated issue of how to fill the gap. The world is full of attempts at such a filling, yet thegap remains. Objects object, refusing representation, even as it is evoked by human subjects as anecessary condition for knowing. Objects remain the other to the subject, separate.From a range of positions, the assumption of foundational separations has been subject to sustainedcritique. This critique entails not simply an attempt to privilege ontology over epistemology, reversingthe binary, but to reframe our whole entanglements within the world. Writers associated with thesemoves that I wish to draw upon include Judith Butler, Donna Harraway, Ian Hacking, Bruno Latour and Karen Barad. Yet these are unfamiliar names in the writings of lifelong learning. Their works aredistinctive if overlapping. They contribute to what I am calling a post-human condition insofar as theknowing human subject is decentred by a concern for ways of enacting within the material world.Barad (2007, p. 137), a quantum physicist turned feminist philosopher, provides a succinct critique of the problem with a representationalist epistemology:Representationalism takes the notion of separation as foundational. It separates the world into theontologically disjunct domains of words and things, leaving itself with the dilemma of their linkagesuch that knowledge is possible… representationalism is a prisoner of the problematic metaphysics itpostulates.She is drawing upon a distinction previously made by Hacking (1983) betweenrepresenting/theorising and intervening/experimenting as general orientations in the world. It isargued that the former has been separated out and given primacy over the latter, thereby positioning EBSCOhost of 12 10/27/2014 6:31 AM


Jul 23, 2017
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