Svensk förskola mellan relationell ontologi och universell moral

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Svensk förskola mellan relationell ontologi och universell moral

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Publication Article, peer reviewed scientific
Title Svensk förskola mellan relationell ontologi och universell moral
Author(s) Dahlbeck, Johan
Date 2014
English abstract
This article deals with a practical problem. The problem is practical insofar as it is actualized in a Swedish policy document aiming to aid preschool teachers and preschool managers in their continuous evaluation and development of preschool practices (Skolverket, 2012). This problem may be broadly described in terms of an appeal to very different notions of subjectivity. To be more precise, within this document there is a perceivable tension between two radically different ways of understanding how human subjectivity is believed to be conditioned and constituted. This tension is interesting to study as it seems to indicate a tension on a more general level, in the context of Swedish educational research as well as in Swedish educational policy at large. On the one hand, the Swedish education system is, by tradition, grounded in a notion of subjectivity as being more or less stable and immutable. Subjectivity, in this sense, is taken to be something always already existing – a kind of trans-historical ability that all humans have access to simply by virtue of being humans (Biesta, 1999). While this ability may be further refined and cultivated through education it is nevertheless treated as a stable instrument through which one may interpret, understand and evaluate the external world adequately. This understanding of subjectivity is firmly rooted in a humanist tradition of thought that makes for the ethical foundation of the Swedish preschool insofar as central humanist values such as the inviolability of human life and the freedom and integrity of the individual are appealed to as foundational values in the curriculum of the Swedish preschool (Skolverket, 2011). These values are intimately connected with the notion of universal human rights and a precondition for the functionality of such values appears to be that what is specifically human may be identified and distinguished from the rest of the world and that, what is more important, the human mind is being granted a unique ontological independence (Melamed, 2011). Parallel to this stable and trans-historical notion of subjectivity, another – competing – notion turns up in the policy document looked at. This competing notion may be described in terms of a relational understanding of subjectivity. Rather than assuming that subjectivity originates in the metaphysical core of the human mind, this relational notion construes subjectivity as the result of concrete encounters between different individuals and between individuals and things. Subjectivity, from this perspective, is taken to be an effect of actual events and it cannot be made sense of independent from these events, which is why this notion of subjectivity is understood to be changeable as well as inherently unstable. In order to understand the problematic implications of this tension between different conceptions of subjectivity, the present article looks into some of the philosophical conditions of the two traditions of thought. Since the first conception entails that subjectivity is stable and autonomous and that it therefore allows for stable ethical evaluations it appears reasonable to approach this by way of the concept of moral universalism. This is so since the values of universal human rights – values that make for the ethical foundation of Swedish education at large – may be understood in terms of a form of moral universalism conditioned by a specific understanding of what it is to be human and of how being human is related to the external world in general. I then ground the second – competing – notion of subjectivity in a relational ontology. This would be an ontology comparable to what Manuel De Landa (2005) labels a flat ontology insofar as it challenges the hierarchical order that moral universalism appears to need to function smoothly. I then turn to the tension between these two traditions of thought as it is manifested in the policy document studied. This leads me to formulate some possible problems with formulating policy based on very different theoretical assumptions about the nature of the world. To sum up I then discuss some practical consequences of this internal inconsistency as well as suggest a continued discussion about how to conceive of the theoretical foundation of Swedish preschool policy – one that does not shy away from the discursive struggle between competing epistemes.
Swedish abstract
I ett aktuellt policydokument som fungerar som stödmaterial till förskolans läroplan kan en inneboende spänning mellan en i grunden humanistisk världsbild och så kallat postkonstruktionistiska inslag utläsas. Samtidigt som dokumentet vilar på en bas av grundläggande humanistiska värden, som bland annat visar sig genom hänvisningar till idén om universella mänskliga rättigheter, så utmanas också idén om att det förment mänskliga överhuvudtaget låter sig avgränsas i någon stabilt ontologisk eller epistemologisk mening. Mer specifikt rör det sig om en spänning mellan att behandla subjektivitet som relationellt konstituerat och att samtidigt underordna sig universella moraliska koder som tycks kräva en viss antagen stabilitet hos det mänskliga subjektet. Genom att inte lyfta och behandla denna underliggande spänning öppnar stödmaterialet upp för en diskursiv kamp där det ena perspektivet riskerar att underordna sig det andra och därmed göra det utmanande perspektivet mer eller mindre verkningslöst. För att undvika en sådan utveckling argumenterar artikeln för att denna spänning bör belysas och diskuteras utifrån en filosofisk förståelse för de olika motstridiga grundantaganden som tycks åberopas samtidigt.
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Publisher Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik, Göteborgs universitet
Host/Issue Pedagogisk forskning i Sverige;2-3
Volume 19
ISSN 1401-6788
Pages 173-192
Language swe (iso)
Subject(s) Förskola
Relationell ontologi
Universell moral
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION
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