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Philosophical anthropology in education : essays on bildung, magic, and citizenship González, Juanita 2020

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PHILOSOPHICAL ANTHROPOLOGY IN EDUCATION:  ESSAYS ON BILDUNG, MAGIC, AND CITIZENSHIP  by  Juanita González  B.A., Universidad de los Andes, 2013  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Educational Studies)   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  August 2020  © Juanita González, 2020 ii   The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the thesis entitled:  Philosophical Anthropology in Education: Essays on Bildung, Magic, and Citizenship  submitted by Juanita González  in partial fulfillment of the requirements for  the degree of Master of Arts   in Educational Studies  Examining Committee: Samuel D. Rocha, Educational Studies, UBC  Supervisor  Deirdre M. Kelly, Educational Studies, UBC  Supervisory Committee Member  Claudia W. Ruitenberg, Educational Studies, UBC Additional Examiner   iii  Abstract  This thesis is a study on philosophical anthropology in education. It addresses the question of being and becoming human beings through a collection of three essays in which the concepts of Bildung, fundamental equality, freedom, reality, magic, personhood, and democratic citizenship are analyzed. The emergence and transformation of one’s sense of self is the subject matter of the first essay. This topic is addressed by responding to a paper on fundamental equality and Bildung by Gad Marcus. Moving on from the question of the person exclusively, the main concern of the second essay is how this person grapples and accounts for its reality. This is carried through by exploring the literary genre of magical realism as a framework that contributes to expanding our understanding of the nature of reality. Finally, the third essay is a reflection on how humans interact and present themselves to others in the context of a democratic nation-state. This reflection is developed by analyzing two concrete examples drawn from the Venezuela-Colombia migration case that illuminate the lived experiences of forced migration and resettlement. The opening and concluding remarks included in the introductory and conclusion chapters address the style, method, commonalities, differences, and themes of this collection of essays. These are intended to provide a sense of integrity and wholeness to the thesis.   iv  Lay Summary  This thesis contributes to the broader study of education around the questions of philosophical anthropology. By reflecting on the being and becoming of human beings through concepts like Bildung, fundamental equality, freedom, reality, magic, personhood, and democratic citizenship, it seeks to contribute to the understanding of education as a primordial component of the human condition.    v  Preface  The following thesis is original, unpublished, independent work by the author, Juanita González.   vi  Table of Contents  Abstract ......................................................................................................................................... iii	Lay Summary ............................................................................................................................... iv	Preface .............................................................................................................................................v	Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... vi	List of Figures ............................................................................................................................. viii	Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................................... ix	Dedication .......................................................................................................................................x	Chapter 1: First thoughts ..............................................................................................................1	1.1	 Essayer ............................................................................................................................ 1	1.2	 Geisteswissenschaft, education and philosophical anthropology ................................... 5	1.3	 Overview of chapters .................................................................................................... 15	Chapter 2: Who am I, the one who is being taught? ................................................................17	2.1	 The spirit of Bildung ..................................................................................................... 17	2.2	 What is fundamental about equality ............................................................................. 24	2.3	 Freedom as beginning ................................................................................................... 29	2.4	 Who am I, the one who is being taught? ....................................................................... 36	Chapter 3: Between reality and magic .......................................................................................38	3.1	 What is real? ................................................................................................................. 38	3.2	 A thread of blood .......................................................................................................... 42	3.3	 The colonialism of the postcolonial interpretation ....................................................... 45	3.4	 The subjectivity of objectivity ...................................................................................... 50	vii  3.5	 ‘There haven’t been any dead here’ .............................................................................. 53	3.6	 Magical realism and education ..................................................................................... 57	Chapter 4: When they were told to stop giving birth ...............................................................60	4.1	 The act of appearing before others ................................................................................ 60	4.2	 When the poor migrated ................................................................................................ 62	4.3	 Competing responses .................................................................................................... 69	4.4	 Who appears? ................................................................................................................ 73	4.5	 Broadening citizenship .................................................................................................. 76	4.6	 The Hellenistic notion of citizen as person ................................................................... 81	Chapter 5: The parts and the whole ...........................................................................................84	5.1	 The origin of the parts ................................................................................................... 84	5.2	 The whole: movement, human person, and togetherness ............................................. 91	5.3	 Returning home ............................................................................................................. 94	Bibliography .................................................................................................................................96	   viii  List of Figures  Figure 1 ‘Todos Somos Migrantes’ .............................................................................................. 72	Figure 2 ‘Nunca Nos Fuimos Siempre Resistimos’  ..................................................................... 79	 ix  Acknowledgements  During the past two years I have lived both the hardest and happiest moments of my life. I have been blessed with the care and support of many people throughout this journey. First, I am thankful to my mom and dad for being my anchor and support without exception since as long as I can remember. To my friends, both my new friends in Canada and my life-long friends from home who have cheered for me and held my hand with empathy and patience throughout this journey. At UBC, I am thankful to Dr. Diedre Kelly for trusting my work and for all your insightful comments and questions. To Dr. Claudia Ruitenberg, for all the conversations that pushed me to think deeply and challenge my ideas. I admire you greatly. And finally, to my teacher, Dr. Samuel Rocha. Taking this study journey with you as my guide has inspired me and stirred my soul. I am forever thankful to you for encouraging me to find the desires of my heart. Thank you. Last but not least, to Juan Antonio, the love of my life, my refuge and bastion. I could not have done this without your love, generosity, and tireless encouragement. Your trust in my abilities carried me all the way through today, and for that I will always be thankful. Te amo, por siempre.       x  Dedication          To dad and mom. Para papá y mamá.  1  Chapter 1: First thoughts  1.1 Essayer  In one of my oldest memories, I am sitting in a bed with my legs crossed thinking about a reason for having acted in a particular way. I am wearing a green overall, and the air in the room is heavy. It was right after lunch, and I had been sent to this room to think, literally. This was my parents’ standard methodology for whenever I did something wrong: I was sent somewhere to sit by myself and think about what I had done, why, and how it could have been different. “Porque si” or “porque no” (Spanish for “no reason” or “just because”) were not acceptable answers. I was allowed to move on with my day only once my parents considered that I had properly reflected on the event and had provided an alternative scenario describing how I could have acted differently. Of course, this was a nightmare for me. In my old memory, I am desperately trying to find something that would satisfy my parents so that I can go back to the pool. Adulthood, however, has made me aware of what my parents were trying to do: they were teaching me how to think. Not what to think, but how to do it. They were showing me that the act of thinking requires time and sometimes isolation and that articulating thoughts into words can sometimes be as challenging as thinking itself. But perhaps more importantly, my parents were teaching me that the act of imagining something different is only born out of careful consideration of how things are. All my life, I have tried to live up to this teaching; I have both succeeded and failed at various times, but I have always tried to pay attention to thoughts. My reader might already know that a thought does not necessarily amount to a sound argument or a lucid point of view. At least that is not how my thoughts are. My thoughts look more like a brief image or soft breeze 2  that crosses my mind and needs the aid of language and more thinking to become an idea or coherent proposition, or at the very least, to be transformed into something that resembles a question. Thinking for me is a process in which different thoughts connect, disconnect, complement each other, and so forth. The reason I bring this up is because the following document is a thinking exercise. To be clear, my writing is not the product of my thinking, my writing is the thinking itself. This exercise in thought became my thesis, which I am submitting in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Faculty of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia, located in the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.  This type of writing, an attempt to organize thoughts, is one of the oldest definitions of what an essay is. This thesis is a collection of essays. Together, these essays constitute a set of ways of thinking through the complexities of the human condition as it refers to education. In short, it is a study on philosophical anthropology in education, conducted with the methods of humanities-based research. This introductory chapter is intended to familiarize my reader with the style and structure of this document and to provide context on the traditions in which I carry out my work. Before I fully turn to this, I would like to offer some remarks on the essay as a form of writing, because I need to ask for my reader’s generosity, as I will explain below. Essays offer the possibility to speculate, explore, and revisit one’s thoughts in a relatively free scheme. In French, as well as in Spanish, the word “essay” comes from the verb essayer or ensayo, which in both languages means “to try something out.” Arguably, trying something out requires a certain attitude of openness to the new or unexpected. At the very least, it requires a disposition to consider something thoroughly before making a judgment. To essayer, or to write an essay, calls on the writer to be open and honest about emerging connections and digressions, 3  and even to be willing to retrace the steps and begin anew, all in the same space of writing. Similarly, such amplitude of possibilities asks for an equivalent generosity and patience from the reader. The essay presents itself as an invitation to dive into the text without expecting anything particular, seeing where the thinking leads to.  This form of writing can be traced back to Michel de Montaigne. He characterized his work as an attempt to write his thoughts down. He wrote on many topics ranging from sleep, smells, and the custom of wearing clothes, to friendship, pedantry and death.1 Interestingly, in the preface to his book of essays he explicitly says goodbye to the reader. There are several ways to look at the significance of this move. Perhaps it means that his writing was supposed to be a thinking exercise with himself and himself only. There is arguably great value and courage in this, considering that writing is indeed a lonely task, and that only the writer knows the secrets of their mind. However, at the same time, one could also say that the nature of the act of writing fundamentally prevents it from remaining a completely private endeavor. It seems that once something is written it is offered to the world and its readers. But perhaps more importantly, what bewilders me about Montaigne’s farewell to his readers is that writing for others is a way of thinking with others, which might, in turn, enrich one’s own thinking. Whatever the case may be, scholarly writing, be it in the form of an academic essay, article, or book, requires some engagement and dialogue with the reader. Considering this, even if the essays in this collection reflect the speculative and exploratory nature of this form of writing, I have intended for them to enjoy some lucidity that can contribute to the discussions of the field of educational research. If this was my intention, someone could reasonably ask why not write an article or develop a claim                                                 1 Michel de Montaigne, The Essayes of Montaigne (New York: Modern Library, 1933).  4  through procedural argument instead. I acknowledge that academic writing is often associated with conclusiveness and certainty, particularly pieces written within the self-legitimizing space of the sciences. However, it seems to me that this is an illusion. Conducting research is always already an attempt, an ensayo. Approaching academic writing as a form of speculation is also a way of admitting that even after a great deal of thinking and working, there are things that require several attempts to be understood.  Having said this, a thesis composed of essays can have some limitations. The most apparent one is that it does not allow for a systematic treatment of an issue from beginning to end. In the case of my thesis, for example, while philosophical anthropology is the axis of my writing and thinking, I do not necessarily refer to the question of the being and becoming of human beings explicitly in each essay. Although essays are pieces of writing that can stand alone, a thesis constituted by a collection of essays requires some sense of progression and wholeness that brings these individual pieces of writing together. I will attempt to provide this sense of integrity in two ways. First, the order in which I have arranged my essays is not aleatory. The order aims to carry the reader in an expanding progression. I do this starting from the formation of the person (through the concept of Bildung), to its existence in the world (by exploring the concept of magical realism), and finally to its interaction with others (through the idea of democratic citizenship). Secondly, in the last chapter, I reflect on my work as a whole. I revisit the commonalities and differences of each essay, and offer some concluding remarks for further paths of research. Now that I have introduced some aspects around the form of this thesis, I will turn to the context and traditions in which the content of my work develops.    5  1.2 Geisteswissenschaft, education and philosophical anthropology  As is often the case in the German language, the word Wissenschaft2 is formed by the union of two other words. In this case, Wissen, which means knowledge and schafft, which roughly means making or creating. If we take this simple explanation, Wissenschaft in English would mean something like “creation of knowledge.” However, in English, Wissenschaft is translated as “research” or “science.” These words provoke an immediate association with the natural, applied, and social sciences that does not seem to correspond with the seemingly agnostic term Wissenschaft in German. It is also true that by briefly looking at the history of ideas, one realizes that Wissenschaft also has its own complexities and biases. However, what remains clear is that the common English translation of this word raises the need for a closer look to its original meaning, and by extension, to the idea of research itself.  There is a saying in German, “Das ist eine Wissenschaft für sich.” It is used whenever something is inherently complicated or requires some expertise to be understood. A close translation would be “that is a science in itself”, but I have already suggested that there might be something inaccurate about using the word science as a substitution for Wissenschaft. The second sense of this phrase will perhaps be more helpful. “Das ist eine Wissenschaft für sich” is also used to talk about complex things that others have done or “researched” that are hard to retrace. My reading of the second sense of the saying is that doing Wissenschaft involves some degree of contribution to a common bulk of knowledge that is not depleted with one single person. Rather, it carries on in a continuous creation of knowledge.                                                  2 In German, nouns are written with a capital letter. I will observe that grammar convention in this essay, considering I will refer to several concepts using the original German word.  6  It is precisely under this broad understanding of Wissenschaft that the idea of the Prussian university was founded in the 19th century. Wissenschaft was the proper means towards the formation of the human person, and this task was coextensive to the formation of human culture, which explains the distinctive place of Geisteswissenschaft within this tradition.3 Geisteswissenschaft is the study of Geist, which is a word that simultaneously means mind, spirit, or soul. It bears noting that Geisteswissenschaft differs from Naturwissenschaften. The study of Geist seeks to understand the existence of human beings in their unique manifestation in the world, while the study of Natur (nature) seeks to explain the empirical world that surrounds us based on its eternal laws. This radical difference got lost at some point in history due to the difficulties associated with translation, as well as the particularities of the development of higher educational institutions around the world. This resulted in the occlusion of much of the German original notion of Wissenschaft in the Anglophone version of the University as an institution, and a very narrow place for Geisteswissenschaft or “the humanities” in the 21st century research-oriented university.  I bring all this up because this master’s thesis is scholarship that belongs to the tradition of Geisteswissenschaft, or “the humanities.” My use of the word scholarship (as opposed to “research”) is deliberate: it is an attempt to make up for what I believe has been lost in the English version of Wissenschaft. Preferring to call my thesis scholarship instead of research simply means that I have learned to study in a particular way that involves engaging with other thinkers and scholars, and develop a dialogue around concepts, ideas, and theories. We might                                                 3 Samuel D. Rocha, “Philosophical Research in Education. Introduction to a Phenomenological Approach to the Philosophical Study of Education” (unpublished manuscript, May 9th, 2019), typescript. 	7  call this approach a pre-qualitative study within the tradition of the humanities simply to differentiate this type of work from other methods that are common in the field of educational studies in our universities today.  The significance of a humanities-based approach in a thesis about education stems precisely from the conviction that human beings are complex, unique, and extraordinary creatures, as well as the fact that education, for all intents and purposes, seems to deal with human beings. Questions such as what is education, how do people learn, what can be taught, how do we come to be educated, etc. are hardly isolatable from our existence as humans in the world. But how, exactly, are these issues related? For example, one could say that concerns around our existence as humans in the world are concerns about our Being, while concerns around education are related to our becoming. How, then, does the question of Being relate to the question of becoming? I first thought about it as an intersection between the fields of philosophical anthropology and education. However, the metaphor of an intersection assumes that these things share some common ground but are fundamentally different in others. Although this might not be entirely mistaken (these are, in fact, different things for a reason), the metaphor of an intersection is not fully appropriate in this case because it does not allow for much fluidity. It seems to me that the relationship between philosophical anthropology and education is more complex. These two things seem to be individual threads that meet in multiple intersections, only to go about their separate ways and meet again within an entangled web. As I will try to show through my thesis, the way in which philosophical anthropology and education relate constitutes a set of ways of asking very similar questions all over again. Before I turn to explore this entanglement in full, I must make an important clarification: education is what brought me into this program and is what this thesis is about.  8  What first prompted my interest was the apparent ubiquity of education. Before graduate studies, I worked in an organization where education was seen as the sole structural solution to the challenges of our communities. Regardless of the issue, be it poverty, corruption, violence, lack of community engagement, or global warming, if we were ever to overcome it, it was through education, and specifically through schooling.4 At that point, I did not know that I was allowed to use the word education for more than what happened within the walls of an institution. My job was to design education projects and coordinate their implementation with other institutions. People would attend these institutions to acquire what they supposedly needed to overcome the perceived problems of their communities. For example, if the problem were domestic violence rates, I would design a project involving conflict resolution skills, or if the issue were too much garbage on the streets, I would come up with an environmental education program, and so on. I enjoyed my work, and I believe we did some important things. However, at the general level, it was clear that something was wrong about the input-output formula of schooling. There had to be something else about education.  Through my studies, I later came to understand that the conflation between schooling and education stems partly from confusion between process and substance. Ivan Illich makes this distinction in the early pages of his book Deschooling Society. He argues for the dismantlement of the institution of the school, as learning is not always the product of formalities such as curriculum, classrooms, or even teachers. Instead, Illich claims, the substance of learning can happen regardless of the process of schooling.5 I find this distinction particularly helpful because                                                 4 The word “schooling” refers to the institutionalized context of K-12 schools as well as formal postsecondary institutions.  5 Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society, [1st]., vol. 44;44.; (New York: Harper & Row, 1971).  9  it does not suggest that schools are useless, which may or may not be true, but rather points to the fact that much of what we know, we learn outside of a formal institution.6 It could perhaps be said to be obvious that a learning moment can happen at any time, which suggests that the act of living can be educational in itself. This is not to say that being alive satisfies all the conditions needed for learning, but that educational opportunities can appear in unexpected ways. By this I am referring to the ever-present educational opportunity of learning, which presents itself in mundane tasks such as engaging in conversation with another person, traveling, reading a book, or observing the behavior of a bird.7 When I say that this thesis is about education, this is the type of “education” I am referring to. However, I am aware that this is a loose clarification, but please bear with me; education seems to be an elusive concept. The question “what is education” has been taken up by thinkers from every corner of academia since the age before Christ, and sure enough somebody somewhere is writing a book right now on the same topic, which makes conclusive claims on the topic suspicious. Being so, I do not intend to provide a definition of                                                 6 Readers of Illich may say that I am missing his point, as he is radical on the view that schools do not serve any educational purpose. This is true, that is his argument in his Deschooling Society. My point, however, is that schools are not inherently good or bad. Schooling can be educative or miseducative, and so is de-schooling. Determining the conditions under which either constitutes a good education requires other considerations, such as those laid out by Illich further in his book.   7 Somebody could reasonably say that although is true that living presents us every day with learning opportunities this does not necessarily mean that all learning is educational. For example, in his article ‘Giving Teaching Back to Education’ Gert Biesta argues that “(…) the point of education is never that that children or students learn, but that they learn something, that they learn this for particular purposes, and that they learn this from someone. The problem with the language of learning and with the wider 'learnification' of educational discourse is that it makes it far more difficult, if not impossible, to ask the crucial educational questions about content, purpose and relationships”. On this account, it seems, education is something entirely instrumental: a means to achieve one or multiple ends. However, a question that emerges is whether there is something desirable about education in itself. Although it is not my purpose in this thesis to provide a definition of education, I would like to consider that education can simultaneously be both a means and an end in itself if we broadly take education to be the process of transformation of the person through the acquisition of new insights. Education can have a very specific purpose and serve to achieve a particular end (for example, educating for environmental sustainability). However, there seems to be something inherently desirable about the idea of constant movement and transformation related to understanding education as an end in itself. I will expand more on this idea of constant “becoming” in Chapter 4 through the concept of Bildung.  10  education in this thesis. Rather, I expect to contribute to a more robust description of the concept by thinking through fundamental questions of education, such as how do people learn, how do we come to be educated, what can be educational, etc. This does not mean that I will have an answer to each of those concerns, but that these will guide my thinking. In my previous job, I would have looked for a very technical and univocal answer to these fundamental questions. For example, to the question “how do people learn” I would have looked for something resembling a cooking recipe. However, through my study journey, I have realized that these questions are everything but rudimentary or technical. In fact, they encompass an existential dimension, which brings me back to the relationship between education and philosophical anthropology.  It seems that every time an educational question is asked, a question is asked about the human person. For example, asking “how do people learn” implies accepting the burden of clarifying what do we mean by “people.” Similarly, asking “how do we come to be educated” quickly raises the question of who is exactly the “we” that we are referring to? What I am trying to point out is that educational questions only make sense with reference to the one who is being educated, i.e., a human being. Theories of education, at least those worthwhile studying, are underpinned by a very particular understanding of “human being.” In other words, every theory of education is always already a theory on the human condition. A simple empirical test of this claim could be useful. For example, take from Rousseau’s Emile his assumptions on the inherent goodness of human beings and little sense will his theory of education (whatever it may be) make. Miss Paulo Freire’s point on the historical and ontological vocation to be more and soon your understanding of the banking model of education will likely be incomplete.8 Try to make                                                 8  This point is carefully elaborated by Samuel Rocha in a paper presented at a Philosophy of Education Society Conference. See: Samuel Rocha D., “Ser Mais’: The Personalism of Paulo Freire” in: Philosophy of Education 11  sense of the education of the guardians in Plato’s Republic without reading the myth of metals, and you will soon be in trouble. And so on. Although people are free to interpret books however they want, it is clear that the understanding of what is meant by “human” is central to a rigorous approach to these theories of education. Even if somebody said that concerns on the human condition are subsidiary, or that they exist only in tangential relation to theories of education, the fact that so much is said about human nature when talking about education speaks of the prevalence of this issue and calls us to attend to the intersection between education and philosophical anthropology.  In its most literal sense, philosophical anthropology deals with the human phenomenon through philosophical thinking. When I say philosophical thinking, I am referring to the tools and methods of philosophy, such as engaging in dialogue with other scholars, making claims, anticipating objections, and elucidating distinctions. When I say the human phenomenon, I refer to the Being of the human, or in other words, that what makes us distinctively human. Somebody might say that anthropology, without the need of philosophy, already asks the question of the human by attempting to provide a unified and systematic account of “man” in its medium, i.e., culture. After all, since Malinowski traveled to the Trobriand Islands, the concern of anthropologists has been to observe people, record their life, and try to make sense of it all.9 If this is not inquiring about human nature, then what is? Why not conduct an ethnography then?                                                 2018, edited by Megan Laverty. Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, in press. (74th Annual Meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society, March 22-26): 371–84.  9 Obviously, this is a rough account of anthropology as a discipline. Considerations about ethnography as a method, the history of anthropology as a field, or the colonial origin of anthropology are all valid and important questions, but fall out of the scope of this thesis.   12  Some questions are indeed overlapping. Yet, I would say that the way of advancing towards the answers is somewhat different. I can think of at least two cases in which this is true.  First, the perspective of philosophical anthropology differs from anthropology in its relation to universals and particulars. Anthropologists are trained to go about culture trying to the best of their abilities not to interpret their findings against the parameters of their own culture. Anthropological accounts refer to the particularities of the group of people being studied. In fact, one of my earliest understandings of anthropology is that it is an inquiry into what makes people different; it is about alterity. All things considered, it is an account of the particulars, and anthropology is distinctively allergic to claims of universality. Although there is not much I can dispute about the axiom of cultural relativism is at the sociological level, the “philosophical” in philosophical anthropology calls for a commitment with a unified, systematic and universal account of the human.10 Such commitment, however, does not mean that philosophical anthropology has resolved the problem of universals and particulars all the way. Quite the contrary, it might even complicate it further. For example, performance artist Marina Abramović writes “an artist should look deep inside themselves for inspiration. The deeper they look inside themselves, the more universal they become.”11 Her last sentence subtly captures Martin Heidegger’s hints on our chance of grasping the universal: we must begin with the innermost sense that each one of us has of our existence. This was his way of returning to the question of                                                 10 Somebody may say that biological anthropology, in its concern with our physical origins, has a claim of universality. While this is true, I am sympathetic to the view that what makes us human transcends the physical dimension. This claim alone could occupy an entire dissertation, and it is not my central argument, although I will elaborate briefly on this point in the essay Who am I, the one who is being taught? What is important to bear in mind is that in general terms, my claims operate under the basic premise of the human condition transcending the physical dimension.   11 Marina Abramović. The Cleaner, (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2017): 265.   13  Being, which he claims had been forgotten, and thence his famous Dasein.12 What this teaches us is that in order to push for universality, one must start by utmost particularity, which is to say the irreducible and indivisible unit of the human person. Secondly, the distinctiveness of philosophical anthropology is not only that it is constituted around the human phenomenon, which is to say the Being of the human condition, but rather that it prioritizes this concern above any other. The primacy of the question is of no small importance. Benjamin and Malpas claim that “in an age that is supposedly ‘post-human’, the question of the human remains – indeed, the very idea of the post-human invokes the human at the same time as it seems to move beyond it.”13 I would say, however, that one can hardly “move beyond” the question of the human. It seems to me that there is no escape from the continuous state of becoming that characterizes our existence as humans. Therefore, the question of the human renews itself every time it is asked. Hence its primacy, and the core of the entangled web between education (which deals with our becoming) and philosophical                                                 12 It is worth mentioning that in the first chapter of Division 1 of his Being and Time, Heidegger dedicates an exclusive section to distinguishing his project of Dasein from anthropology, psychology and biology. Heidegger clarifies that “if we posit an ‘I’ or subject as that which is proximally given, we shall completely miss the phenomenal content of Dasein.” On my reading, he means that the mere idea of a subject cannot be understood positively before a thorough ontological explanation since this refers to a specific phenomenon that fails to inquire about the Being of the subject. This is why, Heidegger continues, he does not use the words ‘life’ or ‘man’ to designate the entities that he is studying, but rather ‘being’ and ‘Dasein.’ If we consider this, returning to the question of Being through Dasein is in some sense distinct from philosophical anthropology, which is the project of Max Scheler (Heidegger’s teacher). Heidegger claims that Scheler’s project is distinct from his own because “for Scheler, the person is never to be thought of as a Thing or a substance: the person is rather the unity of living-through [Er-lebens] which is immediately experienced in and with our experiences, not a Thing merely thought of behind and outside what is immediately experienced.” Although I appreciate Heidegger’s preoccupation around the reduction of the question of man’s Being to the being of its components (body, soul and spirit), I am inclined to think that there is not such danger, as I will try to show in these essays, because inquiring about the human person is always already an attempt to account for its ontological wholeness. Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (Oxford: Blackwell, 1962): 72-75.  13 Andrew Benjamin and Jeff Malpas “Special Issue: Rethinking Philosophical Anthropology”, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 25:3, (2017): 318.   14  anthropology (which deals with our being). In short, there is no point in asking “what is it then, the human phenomenon or education?” The honest answer to this is both.  In his Folk Phenomenology, Samuel Rocha writes that the question of “who am I” is not entirely different from the question “what is education.”14 Although he did not elaborate his point further, one way of interpreting this is that one needs to confront oneself in order to study education. For instance, the study of education often begins by asking “how have I been educated?” Indeed, I do not think we need to go too far to test the idea that questions about education and questions about what it means to be human are closely related. In fact, how my study journey unfolded in this program is a testimony of that.  As a result of my previous work in education and my broad interest in the subject, I first applied to the Master of Education in Society, Culture and Politics in Education (MEd in SCPE), which does not have a thesis requirement. I did not have a particular research topic in mind at that time: I was only interested in education. I listened to my friends whose research interests varied from reconciliation with Indigenous peoples to studies on school districts, policy analysis, and curriculum theory. The richness of possibilities was immense and intimidating. Through coursework, I read theories of education and encountered a great variety of ways to approach the same subject matter. I learned how the notion of education had changed in time and had served different nation-building and political purposes in Canada and the world. In sum, having entered the program with a very loose sense of what I would get from it, I was given the freedom to think, read, and engage in dialogue with thinkers and writers from all corners of life and time. I learned that this is what being a scholar means. Even if my interests remained very broad, I                                                 14 Samuel D. Rocha, Folk Phenomenology: Education, Study, and the Human Person (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2015).  15  decided to transfer to the Master of Arts (MA) in Educational Studies. I was inspired by the possibility of using my research journey to make sense of my own thinking and interests. At that point, the task became distilling what was being presented to me, and trying to figure out my own thinking in the midst of these ideas. In sum, my study journey forced me to step out of myself and enter into dialogue with other scholars, which, in turn, has led to asking anew the same old questions: who am I, what do I think, how could it be different. It seems that I am no different than the little girl in the green overall, and yet I am arguably different.  To summarize, philosophical anthropology and education come together in the questions of who am I, and how I came to be who I am. This is what I mean when I say that this thesis is on philosophical anthropology in education: it is about the being and the becoming of human beings. In the following thesis, I do this by addressing concepts that I believe pierce through our human existence and inform my main concern such as Bildung, fundamental equality, freedom, reality, magic, personhood, and democratic citizenship.   1.3 Overview of chapters The essays collected in this thesis constitute different ways of responding to the question of the human and its becoming. They all share a common engagement with other thinkers who have helped me to think through the complexities of this entangled relationship. Scholars of philosophical anthropology and education have been dealing with many of the questions and topics that are included in this collection for a long time, and being so, this collection does not promise conclusive answers to any of these questions. What it does, however, is extend an invitation to think through these matters anew, making space for imagination and speculation.  16  The question of the emergence and transformation of one’s sense of self is the subject matter of the first essay, titled “Who am I, the one who is being taught?” I do this by thinking through Gad Marcus’ paper on Bildung and fundamental equality. I move on from the question of the person exclusively, and more explicitly into how this person perceives and accounts for its medium in the next essay, which bears the title “Between reality and magic.” There, I explore the literary genre of magical realism as a framework that contributes to the expansion of our understanding of the nature of reality. In my third essay titled “When they were told to stop giving birth”, I reflect on the ways in which humans interact with others in the context of our contemporary world. I do this by exploring the concepts of personhood, democratic citizenship, and education through the lens of two concrete examples that illuminate the lived experiences of those involved in the struggles of forced migration. The fourth and final chapter, titled “The parts and the whole” is intended to provide a sense of integrity and account for my work as a whole. There, I restate the main points of each essay included in this collection, and discuss their commonalities, differences, and themes, ending with a discussion on further paths of inquiry. 17  Chapter 2: Who am I, the one who is being taught?  2.1  The spirit of Bildung In the English-speaking world, the word “education” seems to convey some kind of conceptual unity.15 Although there are multiple theories of education, and few agree on a definition of education as such, there seems to be little doubt regarding the term itself: education. However, this is not the case in every language. In German, for example, there are at least two different terms to refer to education, namely Bildung and Erziehung, and the same is also true for other northern European languages. Although not fully unrelated, Bildung and Erziehung do appear to constitute different educational projects. In this essay, I focus on Bildung. The word Bildung has been translated as formation, self-cultivation, shaping, edification, and has even been equated to the term “culture”, which makes an accurate translation nearly impossible.16 In very broad terms, Bildung has come to mean today something like the formation of the self, or the process through which one becomes somebody. It differs from Erziehung, which can refer to training or instruction, and is closer to the way we would think about the education of young children, for example. Generally, the concept of Bildung “brings together the aspirations of all those who acknowledge –or hope– that education is more than the simple acquisition of knowledge and skills, (…) but that it also has to do with nurturing the human person.”17 In a                                                 15 Gert Biesta, “Disciplines and Theory in the Academic Study of Education: A Comparative Analysis of the Anglo-American and Continental Construction of the Field,” Pedagogy, Culture and  Society 19, no. 2 (July 2011): 175–92.  16Andrew Huddleston, “The Uses and Disadvantages of Bildung for Culture,” in Nietzsche on the Decadence and Flourishing of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2019), 28–44.  17 Gert Biesta, “Bildung and Modernity: The Future of Bildung in a World of Difference,” Studies in Philosophy and Education 21, no. 4 (2002): 343. 18  comprehensive historical study of the term, Rebekka Horlacher stresses that Bildung is an old concept that has occupied the pen of scholars for more than nine centuries.18 In the field of education today, Bildung often comes up in conversations about schooling, learning, and teaching. Such widespread use of Bildung allows for its multiple interpretations and applications, and more importantly, raises the question of what Bildung actually is, and for what purposes is it useful to reflect on it in today’s world. While this is not the central question of this essay, it is indeed a much-needed starting point of any piece of writing that addresses such a fuzzy concept. My suggestion is that perhaps to understand Bildung today it is not entirely useful to think of it as an idea or notion that exists fixed in pure abstraction. It seems that whenever we account for Bildung throughout time and within the history of ideas, the full complexity of the term becomes more bearable. In other words, it appears that a univocal account of Bildung is elusive, but maybe if we approach this notion by looking at its progression in history we might come to a slightly better understanding of what it is.19  Although there is arguably not a single history of Bildung, we do know that it first appeared in the writings of German theologian Meister Eckhart (1260-1328), who adopted it as a neologism to reflect on the influence of the divine upon the soul. From that point we can trace its usage to Kant’s famous essay Was ist Aufklärung? (What is the Enlightenment?), where he shifted attention to the role of subjectivity through his call to “have the courage to use your own understanding.” Following Horlacher, Kant’s question was also picked up by Moses                                                 18 Rebekka Horlacher, “What Is Bildung? The Everlasting Attractiveness of a Fuzzy Concept in German Educational Theory,” Pensamiento Educativo 51, no. 1 (April 30, 2014): 35–45.  19 Doing a full archaeology of the term Bildung falls out of the scope of this thesis. I will only provide some brief notes on context. For a comprehensive history of Bildung as a concept, see Rebekka Horlacher, The Educated Subject and the German Concept of Bildung: A Comparative Cultural History (Routledge, 2016). 19  Mendelssohn, who referred to both the enlightenment and culture as “separate but equal parts of Bildung” thus reflecting much of what the German intellectuals at the end of the eighteenth century believed about what it meant to be gebildet (educated). As explained by Rocha, the conceptual imbrication between Bildung and culture is particularly evident in Hegel, for whom “the formation of the human person is coextensive to the emergence of culture and this cultural education is itself constitutive of the conditions for the human person’s becoming.”20 What the widespread use of Bildung by German scholars suggests is that the history of this notion needs to be further understood in the political context of Germany as a nation state during the nineteenth century. This, in turn, illuminates the circumstances under which Wilhelm von Humboldt, a public servant, first formulated a comprehensive “theory of Bildung” and conceived an institution –the Prussian university– to enact his idea.  Horlacher goes on to identify other uses and interpretations of Bildung in time. For example, she explains how by the end of the nineteenth century the original notion of accessibility associated with Bildung became more nuanced, and Bildung acquired a sense of social differentiation. It was then, she continues, that Bildung was pushed aside as an illusory idea of liberal education for the sake of other purposes more aligned with productivity, technology and the industrial mindset. It was not until after the Second World War that Bildung reappeared as the possibility of liberation from external constrains, particularly from illegitimate structures of power. To a great extent, this sense of Bildung influenced the understanding that it has acquired today both in the field of educational studies and in the discourse of policymakers                                                 20 Samuel D. Rocha, “Philosophical Research in Education. Introduction to a Phenomenological Approach to the Philosophical Study of Education.”  20  and advocates who often rely on it as an argument against standardized testing and quantitative assessments.21 I hope that my reader does not take this too brief and incomplete history of Bildung as a comprehensive list of the different understandings of the concept through time. This would be an oversimplification of both historical analysis and the concept itself. The only purpose of this hurried reconstruction is to show that there is something particular about the evolution of this concept through time. It is evident that the spirit of Eckhart’s initial use of the term in the middle ages continues to permeate its meaning. What I mean by this is that Bildung has never stopped moving, and this is precisely the point. In other words, the concept of Bildung has moved and grown, and the essence of Bildung today seems to be identical as it was in the 13th century, except that it is totally different.22  Douglas Hedley argues that the key point of Eckhart’s conception of Bildung is its dynamic dimension: “the shaping of the self that emerges from the recognition of its true identity and vocation. Education in its proper sense is to lead out of. To begin the process of knowledge,                                                 21 It is worth mentioning that there are a number of political critiques of Bildung. Particularly, those studying critical pedagogy emphasize the relationship between Bildung and the birth of the modern subject (because of its emphasis on self-determination and self-development). In this critical perspective, the idea of Bildung is associated with a strategic device of power that is fundamentally paradoxical in nature: while it focuses on the individual, critiques claim, it remains strongly related to the ideal of homogenization, totalization and ultimately oppression. Even when some of the critiques acknowledge that “premodern Bildung” was not intended to fulfill this role, they maintain that the concept today manifests itself as an “unkept promise” that has lost its potential to meaningfully elicit a reflection around how to lead our life and how others have control of this process. Although I coincide with some of the remarks around individualization, particularly in our world today, through this essay I will propose an understanding of Bildung that reveals the inter-subjective dimension in which its full potential and current relevance unfolds.   22 Originally this idea belongs to Jason Ellis, who opened the first lecture of his course Constructing Citizens: Canada and the Educational Past class by inviting us to think about the study of events of the past considering that “people in the past are exactly like us, except they are totally different.” I interpreted Dr. Ellis’ point as an invitation to reflect on the perspective that time provides to study an event, but without forgetting that people are people. We are the same as people in the past, but they are different because of the circumstances that they faced. I believe that the same basic principle is applicable to the study of Bildung, in the sense that the concept of Bildung has moved through time, and yet its spirit endures.   21  one must turn, not as the empiricist claims without, but within.”23 One can hardly miss the Platonic influence over Eckhart’s use of Bildung: at the core of his notion is the idea that the self –the soul– is embarking on a journey, and gesturing towards something pure. Following Eckhart’s repetition of these Platonic themes, it becomes evident that since its inception, Bildung has been related to movement and transformation. This is true not only at the level of conceptual definition but also in the transformation and movement of Bildung throughout time, as if Bildung itself was the character of Bildungsroman.24  Somebody might object that claiming an ever-changing, yet tantamount nature of Bildung is not useful or practical to understand what Bildung actually is: its definition appears to take flight from us every time we try to pin it down. However, the objection misses the point: precisely what I am saying is that perhaps we are not supposed to account for Bildung in positive, fixed or static terms. Note that is not to say that there are multiple definitions of Bildung to account for. In Rocha’s words, movement does not necessarily entail multiplicity. If we accept that a concept has moved and transformed through time, and even continues to do so as we write and live, we might indeed have a somehow broader sense of the concept to account for. This, however, does not mean that there are multiple versions of Bildung.25 The concept remains one, albeit somewhat amplified by this approach.                                                  23 Douglas Hedley, “Bild, Bildung and the ‘Romance of the Soul’, Educational Philosophy and Theory 50, no. 6–7 (2018): 616.  24 In literature, Bildungsroman is a genre in which the author tells the story of a character who grows and develops through time from childhood to adulthood. The term is frequently translated to the English language as “coming of age stories.”   25 Samuel D. Rocha, “Philosophical Research in Education. Introduction to a Phenomenological Approach to the Philosophical Study of Education.” 22  Although it may be frustrating sometimes, I would suggest that thinking about Bildung this way is generative in the sense that it might position us to talk about education differently. While it may not be entirely obvious how we can do this, this way of engaging with a concept is not unprecedented. Accounting for the way in which a concept moves and its true nature thus emanates through description is not an approach I came up with: such is precisely the Hegelian idea of spirit. In the preface to his Phenomenology of Spirit, the reader constantly faces the frustration of not being able to pin down what the author is actually saying due to Hegel’s demanding style and method, which works through negations. Reading his preface was a very discouraging experience for me: it was like being forced to understand something that escaped my grasp every time I thought I had it. Only after revisiting the text several times, hours of lectures, and consulting secondary sources did I come to understand that this is precisely Hegel’s point: one is not supposed to pin anything down. His rendition of spirit is its movement. The subject constitutes the basis in which the content is bound and on the basis of which the movement runs back and forth. (…) While the concept is the object’s own self, or the self which exhibits itself as the object’s coming-to-be, it is not a motionless subject tranquilly supporting the accidents; rather, it is the self-moving concept which takes its determinations back into itself. In this movement, the motionless subject itself breaks down; it enters into the differences and the content and constitutes the determinateness, which is to say, the distinguished content as well as the content’s movement, instead of continuing simply to confront that movement. The solid basis which merely clever argumentation had found in the motionless subject thus begin to totter, and it is only this movement itself which becomes the object. (…) The content is thereby in fact no longer the predicate of the subject; rather, it is the substance, the essence, and it is the concept of what it is which is being spoken of.26                                                    26 Georg Wilhelm Fredrich Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: The Phenomenology of Spirit, vol. 55 (Cambridge University Press, 2018): 38  23  So far in this lengthy introduction, I have taken the risk of suggesting a particular reading of Bildung with the intention of priming the ground to address a specific aspect of this concept, namely its relationship with fundamental equality and freedom, which will occupy me in the next sections. However, before I fully turn to this task, I would like to make one final remark: one that is perhaps the most significant to my own understanding of Bildung.  Scholars can make many efforts to write things that are meaningful about Bildung. However, it seems that the paradox –and beauty– of this concept is that it is not really something one writes about. Writing about Bildung is itself a form of Bildung, if what we mean by it is a kind of becoming: a journey of the soul that engages with the inner world while at the same time it steps out of it. In other words, the act of studying the concept of Bildung seems to encompass a simultaneous inwardness and outwardness, making it a deeply personal task that emerges in dialogue with the world. I hope to return to this point in section 2.5 of this essay, but for now, it is important to note that I attempt to carry this understanding of Bildung into the form, structure, and content of this essay. The following sections are an account of my journey into understanding some aspects of Bildung in light of Gad Marcus’ paper “Education as Formation: Bildung, Equality and the Book of Genesis.” For this reason, I have not made any significant effort to occlude how my reactions to his paper emerged, were transformed, and in some cases even disappeared as I worked through my understanding of his text.  My commentary on Marcus’ paper is divided into two sections. First, I address the idea of fundamental equality by reflecting on some ways to better understand what is meant by this. Second, I focus on the idea of the Vorbild, which is central to Marcus’ argument, and consider how this notion limits –or rather enhances– the ways in which the human person is free to 24  determine themselves. I end this second section by providing some final remarks on the possibilities of the old idea of Bildung today.   2.2 What is fundamental about equality Marcus sets out to expand our understanding of Bildung by showing that the concept has a meaning that goes far beyond the idea of formation. Marcus offers a much more radical sense of Bildung: one that has the potential of affirming fundamental equality among human beings. He does this by relying on Martin Heidegger, Martin Buber and Jewish thought, and shows how Bildung is essentially rooted in the fact of primordial equality. Before I fully turn to the connection that Marcus makes between these two concepts, I will briefly comment on the idea of fundamental equality itself. I consider this necessary for two reasons. First, although Marcus’ paper deals essentially with education (it was presented in 2018 at a conference about education), a full understanding of the parallel he makes between Bildung and fundamental equality greatly benefits from a minimum degree of literacy on some theological concepts. This is not to say that to understand or even agree with his paper one needs to be familiar with scripture. I am not, for example, and I do coincide with most of Marcus’ points. My point is that a reader who is not entirely familiar with Judeo-Christian concepts (but remains interested in education and his argument on Bildung) could benefit from an analogical reading of what Marcus says about equality to fully comprehend his point. Hence my offering in this section: my understanding of what is actually fundamental about equality. My second reason has to do with the fact that fundamental equality is far from trivial, or even “fundamental” if by fundamental we mean too basic. I agree with Marcus’ commentators when they say that he is too quick in his 25  opening remarks to dismiss the importance of such an argument by taking its obviousness as a given. 27 It is indeed always a good time to attend to what seems obvious.  As I am writing these words, the streets of Bogotá (my hometown) are crowded with protesters whose speeches and banners often display the word “equality.” They demand equality in terms of equal distribution of resources and opportunities across the Colombian society, which means that they are fighting for equality as a social and economic ambition. However, this is not the sense of equality that occupies neither Marcus nor me. Rather, it is an ontological sense of equality for which the word “fundamental” is the key: it suggests a sense of equality that is more primordial. In short, fundamental equality means that humans share a preceding sameness that is fundamental in the sense that it comes before any other consideration. Somebody might object that fundamental equality does not take precedence over the considerations of our differences, given that the latter manifest themselves in a very tangible way for many people. In other words, that idea of fundamental equality has little use to somebody who experiences continuous discrimination due to skin color, gender, ethnicity etc. Although I am sensitive to the tragic ways in which people experience social injustices in relation to their intersecting identities, it is precisely because of this that a reflection around the ontological conditions that make up equality among human beings is a priority.  For Marcus, such preceding sameness that determines the mark of equality among human beings is God, specifically, the image of God that dwells within human beings. In the context of relating the idea of Bildung as the formation of an image with this common first cause, he relies                                                 27 See Rocha’s response to Marcus paper: Samuel D. Rocha, “The Humility of God, the Creator Who Educates” in Philosophy of Education 2018, edited by Megan Laverty. Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, in press. (74th Annual Meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society, March 22-26): 734-38.  26  on the passage of the Book of Genesis that reads, “human was created in the image of God.” Considering that in monotheistic religions “an image of God cannot exist, since God cannot be seen.”28 Marcus quotes Rashi, a Jewish scholar of the eleventh century who in his commentary of the bible sheds clarity into what it might mean to be created in the image of God. In short, Marcus writes that being created in the image of God presupposes human beings have a godly imprint that lives within them. He uses Rashi’s metaphor of a coin, which illustrates the primordial dimension of equality, thereby revealing the implication of his argument: considering that all human beings share a divine imprint, everybody is equal, regardless of apparent differences like race, ethnicity, gender, etc.  I struggled for some time to understand what was meant by the “divine imprint”. This is likely due to my unfamiliarity with the Jewish tradition and the study of scripture, but mainly, I believe, this is because Marcus moves too fast and does not fully reveal the implications of being created in the image of God. Somebody might say that elaborating on this point this was not entirely within his scope, considering that his argument is not on fundamental equality itself, but rather on Bildung and the source of the archetype towards which the self is to be formed. However, it is my contention that precisely because his educational argument is premised upon the idea of a shared godly imprint, this last point deserves detailed attention and explanation. In other words, I see enormous value in making a point about education using myth, analogy, story, and ultimately theological concepts, but failing to carefully spell out these concepts risks being                                                 28 Gad Marcus, “Education as Formation: Bildung, Equality and the Book of Genesis” in Philosophy of Education 2018, edited by Megan Laverty. Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, in press. (74th Annual Meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society, March 22-26), 729. 27  misunderstood or too easily dismissed by others who remain interested in education, but might not feel so comfortable discussing matters related to God.  Concretely, Marcus establishes the need for a Vorbild in the process of Bildung through his understanding of Heidegger and Buber, and this is the preamble to the second portion of his paper where he relies on the Jewish tradition. However, after doing so, Marcus asks the wrong question. He writes that the big question is “how and from where we are supposed to get or receive the image that we aspire to become.”29 If this is not the wrong question, it is indeed a precipitated one. By turning to the source of the image so quickly, Marcus misses the opportunity to reflect on the implications of saying that human beings possess divinity or sacredness within us. This, precisely, is what I consider to be the fundamental point about fundamental equality, but let’s see where his argument takes us.   It could perhaps be said to be true that there is something particular about encountering another person, as opposed to a dog, a tree or a chair. We do not need to like this person, or even feel comfortable around them, but the act of coming into presence with another human being seems to arouse a particular intuition that indicates that we are alike to that being in some radically precedent way. This is not to say that there is anything exceptional about the human form of life. Simply, that human beings seem to be able to recognize in other human creatures some sense of shared substance that makes them akin. For our purposes here, the interesting question that arises from this phenomenon is: what exactly is that human beings recognize in another human creature? What is it that the human person sees in the other? Marcus seems to be suggesting that what we see in the other is sacredness or divinity. He writes “the first cause, or                                                 29 Ibid., 728.  28  Being of being, cannot only be found in our own existence but more so in the existence of others.”30 I suspect he is referring to the possibility of subjectivity and interiority. In other words, our ability to see ourselves and internally observe the presence of the self. I do not know if this intuition of alikeness derived from this possibility is attributable to a first supreme cause that is common to us all, or even if there is something inherently unique about the human form of life that can be called divinity, as Marcus seems to be suggesting. Some post human critical theorists as well as Indigenous scholars would even claim that there is nothing unique about human animals as opposed to non-human animals, and perhaps they are right.31 However, exceptionalism is not what is fundamental about human fundamental equality because the point is not about commensurability in relation to other species nor among human creatures. Rather, it is about dignity. By the end of his essay, Marcus uses the biblical story of Cain and Abel to make a point about what he calls “the infinite value of each human.” Saying that something has infinite value also means that it cannot be measured, and in this sense, fundamental equality acquires a moral dimension: not one of equivalence, worth or value in any other sense of axiom, but rather equality as something that is fixed in the sacredness that dwells within each person.                                                 30 Ibid., 730.  31 For example, by relying on a careful comparison between a North-American Native story of creation and the myth of Genesis, indigenous scholar Thomas King notes that while in Genesis the creative power is centralized in a single entity who has the omnipotent power to create, in native stories of creation deities share the power and decisions that affect the world with other characters. While the two creation stories talk about the creation of the world including human beings, King rightfully points out that Genesis suggests that the universe is governed by an array of hierarches (God, people, animals, plants), whereas in native stories the universe is governed by the cooperation, balance and connection among the four legged, two winged, etc. This radically different approach invites us to think about the uniqueness of the human form of life, but also about its responsibility towards other creatures, and its role in the context of an integrated system. Thomas King, “The Truth about stories is… Stories Are All That We Are” in Read, Listen, Tell: Indigenous stories from Turtle Island, ed. Sophie McCall et al (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2017): 72-77.  29  If one is willing to accept from Marcus the premise that the mark of our equality comes from our ability to perceive ourselves (as I am), it becomes clear that each human person is unique and unrepeatable, given human’s ontological sacredness or dignity, as written by Marcus “each one of us is a whole world in itself.”32 However, it may be counter intuitive to associate equality, which is often associated with the idea of homogeneity, with uniqueness, which seems to convey a sense of multiplicity or lack of uniformity. In fact, the idea of uniqueness as part of the sacredness of the human person raises an important question in light of Marcus’ understanding of Bildung, which he elaborates through his reading of Heidegger and Buber. As I will explain in the section that follows, Marcus expands on the linguistic precision that Bild means image in German, which is why Bildung is commonly referred to as the formation of an image. He thus concludes the process of coming into being is contingent upon an archetype or pre-set image towards which the image of oneself will be formed. However, being a unique and unreplaceable being does not immediately seem compatible with the idea of a predetermined archetype towards which the self is formed. Ultimately, the question that kept coming into my mind as I worked through understanding Marcus argument was: what does it mean to be premised on some metaphysical conditions that fully determine my humanity and yet allow for freedom to follow as a substantial mark of my existence as a unique subject?   2.3 Freedom as beginning  In German, the verb bilden means to form or shape something. Because of this, the process of Bildung has been understood by some as the formation of an image. Marcus underscores this particular meaning of Bildung by pointing out that this process appears to be                                                 32 Marcus, “Education as Formation: Bildung, Equality and the Book of Genesis”, 730. 30  driven towards “an aspiration of a form that one wants to form oneself into.” Marcus relies on his reading of Buber: “Bilden means realizing a seen image into earthly material in order for it to step into the world of things. It is like materializing an idea from the realm of ideas into the material world.”33 In this sense, the Bild (the image) is preceded by an archetype or pre-set image towards which the image of oneself is to be formed, and this archetype or model constitutes the Vorbild.34 Marcus dedicates some time to reflect on the nature of the Vorbild through his reading of Heidegger. He points out that the access to such Vorbild occurs through exposure to a “first cause”, an encounter with the Being of beings. However, note this first cause or image is not static: for Heidegger, Bildung is both coming to know something and creating something, which emphasizes the never-ending nature of Bildung. We are constantly acquiring new insights, and thereby the image is always slightly changing, which then further informs the formation of the self.  To account for the source of the archetype or first cause, Marcus turns to the Jewish tradition. As I discussed in the previous section, I find Marcus’ parallel between Bildung, fundamental equality and the myth of genesis provoking and useful to think about both education and the human condition, provided there is a wider understanding of what it means to possess an inherent sacredness of divinity within oneself. However, Marcus’ remarks on the need for a Vorbild in the process of Bildung suggest –at least at first glance– that the result of a process of becoming oneself can be determined in advance. This is disputable as it seems to directly contradict the idea of uniqueness embedded in the notion of “becoming oneself.” This deeply                                                 33 Ibid., 728.  34 The prefix vor in German implies something that comes before or in front of.  31  personal task implies a sense of self-authorship of one’s life, which is grounded on the notion of persons as subjects who are free to become whoever they want to be. For example, in her essay The Crisis of Education, Hannah Arendt writes:  It is in the very nature of the human condition that each new generation grows into an old world, so that to prepare a new generation for a new world can only mean that one wishes to strike from the newcomers’ hands their own chance at the new.35   From Arendt’s insistence on protecting newcomer’s chance at the new in the world, we can infer that she is referring to the world that conditions our humanity, suggesting that the human condition is not pre-determined, but rather needs to be brought into existence again and again. If that is the case, then freedom is also constitutive of such humanity. It is our possibility to begin something unforeseen and determine how the world is going to be when it is set anew. Arendt’s consideration raises the question of the exact relationship between the archetype and the image that is being formed. In fact, from an Arendtian perspective, it is hard to think of Bildung as the formation of an image that comes into being according to a particular archetype. Preferably, one could argue that instead of the formation of an image, the process of Bildung is rather the renewal of an image. Such renewal would not be realized into a mould. On the contrary, the renewal of the image implies that the person –the child, in this case– is fundamentally free to renew the world in a form that may be unforeseen.  With Arendt in mind, I was ready to dispute Marcus’ understanding of Bildung as something contingent upon an archetype, as this seemed to fundamentally deny the principle of humans being free to determine themselves. As I will explain in what follows, I remain                                                 35 Hannah Arendt, “The Crisis in Education,” in Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought. (New York: Penguin Books, 2006): 174  32  convinced that freedom follows from the metaphysical conditions of equality that I discussed in the previous section, and that as Arendt signals, a constitutive part of the human condition is the possibility to undertake new and unforeseen beginnings. However, as I attempted to build my objection to Marcus’ paper, it became clear that perhaps I had missed something, for what does it actually mean to say that human beings are free to become themselves through Bildung? Exploring this question forces me to consider the idea of freedom in the first place.  The emergence and glorification of the modern ideal of the free rational subject who can self-sufficiently choose and assume control over its destiny has influenced almost every aspect of modern life, and certainly, education has not been the exception. Claudia Ruitenberg identifies the ideal of the rational autonomous subject as one of the most influential ethical frameworks for education.36 At the center of this notion is the idea of the self-sufficient, self-reliant educated person who takes over their life. Ruitenberg quotes Harvey Siegel, who in his article premises his defense of the need to foster critical thinking in the idea that “the self-sufficient person is, moreover, a liberated person; such a person is free from the unwarranted control of unjustified beliefs, unsupportable attitudes, and paucity of abilities which can prevent that person from competently taking charge of his or her own life.”37 Note that this approach to being free presupposes the absence of constraints as the condition for freedom to be the case. This is perhaps the type of freedom that I had in mind when my objection to the Vorbild of Bildung emerged. The archetype came across to me like a prescription of the type of person that one is                                                 36 Claudia Ruitenberg, Unlocking the World: Education in an Ethic of Hospitality (London; Boulde: Paradigm Publishers, 2015).  37 Harvey Siegel, Educating Reason: Rationality, Critical Thinking, and Education (New York: Routledge, 1998): 58. (emphasis added).   33  about to become, which would amount to a constraint on my personal freedom. However, as my understanding of what it meant to be inherently sacred grew (in Marcus words that is to have been created in the image of God), the more it became clear that the relationship between the Bild and the Vorbild is much more complicated, and cannot be dismissed so easily. In other words, it became apparent that it is precisely the nature of our inherent sacredness what makes freedom compatible with the emergence of an unforeseen self that journeys towards the Vorbild. My path to this conclusion involved being reminded of a more positive account of freedom, of which I will try to explain now. Negative freedom is the idea that freedom is an end in itself that is attained in the absence of constrains. In short, it means that any imposition amounts to oppression, and freedom follows from the disappearance of such imposition. Positive freedom, on the other hand, is a broader account of freedom insofar it is not an end in itself, but rather a means towards something else. It is freedom for something that in a way is greater than freedom. This idea resonates with John Dewey’s remarks on the nature of freedom in his Experience and Education:  The commonest mistake made about freedom is, I think, to identify it with freedom of movement, or with the external or physical side of activity. Now, this external and physical side of activity cannot be separated from the internal side of activity; from freedom of thought, desire, and purpose.38  On this account, imprisoning somebody, for instance, does not amount to fully taking away its internal freedom. Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning is an example of this internal dimension of freedom that is deeply personal and remains in some sense inexpungable regardless of any external limitation.39 What is important about the distinction between positive and                                                 38 John Dewey, “Experience and Education,” The Educational Forum 50, no. 3 (September 30, 1986): 61.   39 In his book Frankl narrates his experience as a prisoner in diverse Nazi concentration camps. He argues that even in terrible conditions of physical and mental stress, human beings remain capable of preserving their spiritual 34  negative freedom is not its political or empirical implications, but rather the existential dimension that is revealed by a broadened account of freedom, a task for which Maxine Greene’s Dialectic of Freedom is particularity well positioned to do. As pointed out by Rocha, Greene’s admirable use of American literature shows a deeper dimension of freedom that goes beyond the political dimension of liberation.40 Greene writes:  It must be clear enough that the mere assertion of freedom as a natural right or independence guarantees little when it comes to finding a space for personal becoming. (…) To overthrow tyranny or authoritarian controls, in other words, is not to bring freedom into being; it is only to allow for the search.41  Now, the question that this passage raises is where does such search lead to? In other words, what is freedom attained for if freedom itself is not the end? There are multiple ways to answer this question, and Greene herself emphasizes early on in her book that the consequences of free action are unpredictable to a large degree, thereby coinciding with Arendt’s remarks. However, one can hardly miss Greene’s point on the impossibility of attaining freedom in isolation, which suggests that a person’s full potential only emerges in the act of coming together with others: “[freedom is] developed by human beings who have acted to make a space for themselves in the presence of others (…).”42 Exactly this is the interpretative key that finally illuminated my reading of Marcus and brought me to my initial objection to his paper.                                                  freedom and independence of mind. He writes that even when everything else is taken, one can still choose one’s attitude. See: Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning (Boston: Beacon Press, 2006).  40 Sam Rocha, (Class Lecture, EDST 597 – Educational Theories: Equality, Democracy, and Justice, 03/26/2019, University of British Columbia).    41 Maxine Greene, The Dialectic of Freedom (New York: Teachers College Press, 1988: 79-80.  42 Ibid., 56.  35  In all respects, the freedom that follows from the mark of equality makes an ethical demand on the human person. In other words, the inherent sacredness of the human person is not only something that is given by virtue of being born, but it also demands the person to respond to such humanity. If I am now correctly interpreting Marcus’ paper, this means that the Vorbild (which simultaneously dwells within the person and functions as the archetype for Bildung) makes a constant call on my humanity to be-in-the world (or better to become-in-the-world) for others. This is, I suspect, the most radical implication of Marcus’ broadened sense of Bildung:  What is asked of us as individuals is to find this sort of Being or Godly spark in ourselves in order to see it in every other human too. This is especially important because, as we have seen, the needed Vor-Bild emerges from an encounter that is not present in our own being. We are in need of the other and an encounter with its being for our Bildung to occur.43  A reasonable criticism of my reading of Marcus, and by extension to Marcus’ point itself, would be to ask whether this means that somebody who fails to respond to the call of their humanity by harming others is somehow less of a human person. Put differently, is an assassin less capable of Bildung? I do not believe this to be the case. Rather, I would argue that the key to understanding this is provided both by Marcus through his reading of Heidegger, and by the original sense of Bildung that I proposed in the introduction to this essay. It is precisely its movement. At the core of the notion of Bildung since its inception in the writings of Meister Eckhart is the idea of a never-ending process of becoming. It seems that whenever a person fails to take responsibility for the ethical demand of its inherent sacredness there is a sort of alienation, but what remains true is that the unceasing nature of the process of Bildung allows for redemption. Always. In this sense, transformation, or more precisely the possibility of it lies at the core of the relevance of                                                 43 Marcus, “Education as Formation: Bildung, Equality and the Book of Genesis”, 736.  36  Bildung today. Pushing further, this person may agree on the relevance of this notion for existential or metaphysical concerns but may still claim that this does not mean that Bildung is explicitly important for the field of educational studies. My intuitive answer to this is that education is always already existential and metaphysical in nature, but this claim alone may not convince my reader. The alternative is to stress yet again the idea of education as an ever-expanding unfolding of the human person, which cannot be separated from its social life (that is, the human person’s ontological condition of relationality). This point deserves one brief consideration that I will address in the next and final section.   2.4 Who am I, the one who is being taught? Marcus writes “Directed or triggered by the other, one comes to understand and find one’s very own Godly imprint, which, even though shared with everyone, stays one’s very own personal treasure.”44 The suggestion here is that even if the possibility of Bildung is premised on our inherent condition of relationality, it still remains a deeply personal task: a discipline of the self. What is interesting about this is that Bildung encompasses a simultaneous inwardness and outwardness, therefore the self can only look inside as it steps outside of itself.  To conclude, one could think of this sense of Bildung as a bidirectional journey. Take Plato’s allegory of the cave as an example, and note the direction of the journey of the one who steps out of the cave. This person is moving into the unknown, which in turn confronts him with themselves. In other words, the more the self enters into dialogue with the world, the more it is forced to look inside: it is not possible to create oneself in isolation. The one who is being taught                                                 44 Ibid., 731  37  –whether by an inner Vorbild or by a teacher other than themselves– always returns to the question who am I, thus entering into a constant dialogue with the world. I can think of many reasons why this would be desirable, but for somebody who is less naive, the inherent value of this might not be entirely obvious at first glance. In a short article that reflects on modernity and the possibility of Bildung today Gert Biesta writes “Bildung should actually make such an encounter with what is other, with was is different possible. Being in such a situation can put a challenge to our own certainties which in turn can lead us to reconsider our own position.”45 If education today has any hope of contributing to promote a way of being/becoming in the world that is less individualistic and less convinced of the idea that we can live our lives without reaching out to the other, the old notion of Bildung is more relevant now than it has ever been.                                                   45 Gert Biesta, “Bildung and Modernity: The Future of Bildung in a World of Difference”, 350.  38  Chapter 3: Between reality and magic   3.1 What is real? In a previous essay, I wrote about the complexities of the emergence of subjectivity or “the self” as part of the educational process. However, human beings do not seem to emerge into a vacuum. Rather, humans emerge into the world. A basic feature of that world seems to be that it is something, instead of nothing. In other words, it is within Being, and it exists in a way that might not be immediately revealed to us, but we assume it to be a thing. It also seems true that within the world, things exist. Things like lilies, books, whales and parents who welcome us into the world are concrete entities that constitute that world by existing in a particular space-time dimension. Whether this dimension resides in our mind or independently of it is another question, but that we are born into a world constituted by things that exist appears to be true. In general, people tend to agree that material entities like lilies or books exist: these are things we can touch, smell, and apprehend in the physical world through our senses. When it comes to things like gravity, time, or even love, it becomes less obvious, but there also seems to be a widespread agreement that even though we cannot see gravity, it is a real thing.  In his Folk Phenomenology Rocha proposed a conceptual lens —the trinitarian lens— that provides order and clarity to what I have described. According to him, Being is the largest, all-encompassing category of things. This wide category is “the antecedent something that sits behind everything.”46 It is the whole that encompasses the parts, and everything of our interest dwells within Being, insofar as it is something, instead of nothing. Within Being, Rocha                                                 46 Samuel D. Rocha, Folk Phenomenology, 11. 39  continues, there is a second category of things: the things that do not necessarily exist (in the sense that we cannot see them), but that are nonetheless real such as gravity or time. These are the things that subsist, and they are real because we sense them as immaterial forces. Things that subsist are important, Rocha writes, because they reveal the vitality of Being, that is: the desire to be alive within Being. The third and final category of his conceptual lens are things that exist: material entities such as lilies, books or our bodies, which are nested both within Being and subsistence, but also exist in a particular embodied, material manifestation.47  Note that Rocha’s lens does not reduce “the real” to the limit of immediate experience. His distinction between existence and subsistence widens the notion of the real by attending to things that one can perceive, yet are not graspable through the senses. According to him, these things exist to drive our existence, revealing the vitality of Being. Following his ontological claim, one could say that emotions like love, fear, or gratitude are as real as the force of gravity, since they play a role in our existence and all lie below the level of the senses  An issue that arises from this suggestion is the burden that this imposes on the act of perception. If one accepts that the things that are real are not be exclusively accessible through the senses, how can we know (and agree on) what is real? For example, does this mean that all my intuitions are real? How can I be sure? And if I cannot be sure, then does it mean that the revelation of the real always presupposes faith? I do not claim to have found a satisfactory answer to these questions. What appears to be true, however, is that the manifestation of reality seems to require something of the subject. For Rocha, this something is imagination. In other words, the question “what is real” is a two-sided one for him. The question itself provokes                                                 47 Rocha argues education as a way of being within Being, study as a way of subsisting, and the human person as a way of existing. Rocha, Folk Phenomenology, 40-41.  40  imagination to answer it, or even to understand what is meant by it. To be clear, asking about the real is as much an imaginative task as it is a realist one. Rocha writes:  The purpose of the trinitarian lens I have presented is to use the categories together, as a single and irreducible whole but in different focuses, in order to seek Being, sense subsistence, and see existence (…) The more radical task and challenge is to live and act with harmony and fidelity to that trinitarian reality, but that task cannot be done without taking seriously the rigor of imagining it.48  On my reading, the task of imagining the real implies opening up a space for a dance between the person in their unique subjectivity, and reality in its over-arching objectivity. Somebody may object that one thing is to ask about the real and another thing is to talk about the all-encompassing concept of reality. It is true that Rocha’s question is very specific: it is about “the real”, which seems to be a way of conferring spatial characteristics to the concept of reality. Although this specified sense of reality allows us to classify real things like lilies, gravity, and even love as concrete entities that are graspable in everyday life without the constraints of the requisite of materiality, it is true that the question of reality does not end there. Arguably, “reality” carries a heavier metaphysical connotation in the sense that it is ubiquitous and wide-ranging. However, it is also clear that our possibility to grapple with reality is ignited by our grasp of the real, which is manifested to us through experience. Thus, Rocha’s invitation to adopt the disposition to seek, sense, and see in order to imagine the real seems to be a fertile starting point.  It is my contention that few people have taken more seriously the task of imagining the real than magical realism writers, as I will show in this essay. While I started reading magical realism books a long time ago, it was just recently that I was able to point at the reason for my                                                 48 Rocha, Folk Phenomenology, 14-15 (emphasis added). 41  fascination. My intuition is that the literary devices within magical realism allow for a representation of phenomena that is heavily objective in the sense that it attempts to depict reality as-such, but at the same time, is able to capture the full array of subjectivity embedded in the experience of an event. In other words, magical realism captures very closely the dance between subject and object, or what I will refer to as “insideness” and “outsideness” that seems to be at the core of the manifestation of reality. Interestingly, magical realism resorts to nothing less than magic to aim for an account of the real: magic is not presented as the limit situation of the real, but rather as a constitutive part of it. In this sense, magic functions as the imaginative device that allows the person to grapple with reality.  I develop my discussion in this essay in three parts. In the first part, I describe magical realism as a literary genre and address the term itself by discussing its apparent contradictions. I explain how these contradictions, alongside the Latin-American origins of the genre, have led scholars to interpret magical realism as a type of postcolonial literature in which a cultural worldview is presented. In the second part, I depart from that interpretation and suggest that although a postcolonial reading provides a model to understand the juxtaposition of magical and real elements, their coexistence rather reveals that oftentimes things that happen in life are surpassed by conventional means of representation, and turning to magical elements is the only possible way to account for the whole extent of a phenomenon. What this suggests, in turn, is that reality does not have an inherently rigid structure that excludes the extraordinary or magical, but rather that the mysterious nature of magical elements sits at the core of reality and its manifestations. In the third part, I offer a reading of a passage of One Hundred Years of Solitude that I believe clearly illustrates this point, and finally, I reflect on the role of education in 42  fostering a particular disposition towards reality that allows the person to be attuned with the human person’s possibility to mediate between what is real and what is imagined.   3.2 A thread of blood  As soon as José Arcadio closed the bedroom door the sound of a pistol shot echoed through the house. A trickle of blood came out under the door, crossed the living-room, went out into the street, continued on in a straight line across the uneven terraces, went down steps and climbed over curbs, passed along the Street of the Turks, turned a corner to the right and another to the left, made a right angle at the Buendía house, went in under the closed door, crossed through the parlor, hugging the walls so as not to stain the rugs… and came out in the kitchen, where Úrsula was getting ready to crack 36 eggs to make bread. 'Holy Mother of God!’ Úrsula shouted.49   In this passage of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, a mother (Úrsula) is learning about the death of her son (José Arcadio). This book is often seen as the canonical book of magical realism, and a classical piece of Latin American literature. It tells the story of seven generations of the Buendía family who live in the imaginary town of Macondo. The town was founded by a member of the Buendías alongside twelve other families. It started as a small village, grew to become a town of merchants and artisans until it was economically colonized by a North American banana company, and later experienced a debacle that led to its final cataclysm. In this passage, García Márquez presents us with a rather strange image: blood that is moving autonomously through the streets of Macondo. While a trickle of blood that has the                                                 49 Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Harper Collins (New York, 2003): 68-69. “Tan pronto como José Arcadio cerró la puerta el dormitorio, el estampido de un pistoletazo retumbó en la casa. Un hilo de sangre salió por debajo de la puerta, atravesó la sala, salió a la calle, siguió en un curso directo por los andenes disparejos, descendió escalinatas y subió pretiles, pasó de largo por la calle de los turcos, dobló una esquina a la derecha y otra a la izquierda, volteó en ángulo recto frente a la casa de los Buendía, pasó por debajo de la puerta cerrada, atravesó la sala de visitas pegado a las paredes para no manchar los tapices, siguió por la otra sala, eludió en una curva ancha la mesa del comedor, avanzó por el corredor de las begonias y pasó sin ser visto por debajo de la silla de Amaranta que daba una lección de aritmética a Aureliano José, y se metió por el granero y apareció en la cocina donde Úrsula se disponía a partir treinta y seis huevos para el pan. - ¡Ave María Purísima! -gritó Úrsula.”   43  faculty of moving autonomously may seem implausible or unreal, there is no indication in this passage that this is anything extraordinary that should elicit a feeling of surprise or even suspiciousness. On the contrary, the autonomous movement of blood appears to be something ordinary, plausible and real: something that is happening in reality. Presenting otherwise supernatural events in a matter-of-fact way is a key narrative technique of the literary genre of magical realism.50 Through a highly detailed description of the path followed by the blood, the reader can picture the situation accurately, and the magical is accepted and accommodated naturally as part of the normal course of events. At this point, my reader might think that this passage is no different from a scene of a fantasy book where the characters are also unsurprised by the existence of dragons or elves. There is, however, an important difference. Tzvetan Todorov’s definition of fantasy is useful to understand how magical realism differs. Writers of fantasy books invent alternate worlds where fantastic beings such as fairies or hobbits exist, and they invite the reader to enter into their fictitious creation, which is internally consistent throughout. This is not hard for the reader, who accepts the premise of an alternate world that operates under its own conditions, thus eliminating the contradictions that might arise.51 What this means is that the plausibility of a fantastic creature like a dragon is given by the hypothetical and self-contained existence of the invented world.  Contrastingly, in magical realism things do not happen in an alternate world: Úrsula’s son is being killed in our world. Thence the incongruences (such as blood moving autonomously),                                                 50 Along with juxtaposition of elements, themes and facts, and the disruptive use of chronological time and objective space.  51 Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre (Cleveland: Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1973).  44  apparent contradictions (such as a mother being able to know that something had happened to her son before actually seeing his dead body), and strange situations (such as the blood not willing to stain the carpets). These incongruences, contradictions and strangeness are not presented as a distortion of reality, but rather as a natural part of it. In short, as put by Gloria Bautista in her historiography of the genre, the power of magical realism lies in its presentation of reality as magical, as opposed to presenting magic as real, which is what fantasy does.52 Instead of inventing an alternative world, magical realist writers pierce through the reality of the world (our world), and by doing so, they reveal its magical character. On this account, the magic is not found outside of reality, but precisely at the core of it. I will return to this point, but for now let me briefly consider the word magic and the contradiction embedded in the term magical realism.  There is little regard in academia for the concept of magic. Pioneer ethnologists in the late nineteenth century used the term magic to describe the religious beliefs of the people they were studying, which were unbelievable to Europeans (in the literal sense of the word). Magic was used instrumentally to distance the observer from the supernatural events that were being described, thus maintaining a Eurocentric perspective.53 In general, we might say that this sense of the word has been carried through until today, suggesting that the idea of magic is loaded with a particular understanding of what is natural and what is not, and these two appear to be mutually exclusive. However, it seems that the term magical realism does not abide by this condition of exclusiveness. Quite the contrary: it presents us with a metaphysical contradiction noticeable as                                                 52 Gloria Bautista, “El Realismo Mágico: Historiografía y Características,” Verba Hispánica 1, no. 1 (1991).  53 Roberto González Echevarría, “Isla a Su Vuelo Fugitiva: Carpentier y El Realismo Mágico,” Revista Iberoamericana 40, no. 86 (1974).  45  soon as we think about the term itself. The words “magical realism” extend an invitation to consider some degree of coexistence between magic and reality. A way to account for this contradiction–and arguably the most popular reading of magical realism– has been to resolve the conflicting juxtaposition of the magical and the real by explaining it as a Weltanschauung (world-view). What this means is that the presence of magic has been resolved by attributing it to a cultural point of view that is internally consistent and valid only in reference to a particular group of people. In the case of magical realism, this interpretation is grounded on Latin America’s post-colonial search for an authentic national identity and the political tensions arising from the disparities between the west and the non-west. In the next section, I will briefly consider this approach and explore how a postcolonial reading may or may not be useful to expand our understanding of reality.   3.3 The colonialism of the postcolonial interpretation  The term magical realism was first used in 1925 by Germany’s art critic Franz Roh as a response to what he thought to be an exaggerated distortion of reality caused by expressionist painters, who, on his view, over-determined the emphasis on the subject.54 Roh introduced the idea of magical realism as the middle ground in which impressionism and expressionism could meet. While the former aimed to accurately describe the world by placing the object in the center, the latter privileged painter’s subjectivity, which was imposed over the object.55 As an alternative, Roh proposed magical realist art, through which objects would be created anew by                                                 54 Roberto González Echevarría, “Cien Años de Soledad: The Novel as Myth and Archive,” MLN 99, no. 2 (1984): 358–80.  55 Franz Roh and Juliane Roh, German Art in the 20th Century (Greenwich, Conn: New York Graphic Society, 1968).  46  unraveling the mystery that he thought was hidden in the world, yet remaining faithful to reality as such. His idea suggested that perhaps the uncanny and the real did not need to be in opposition, but could rather function as complements.56 Ironically though, Roh barely used the term magical realism in his book, and it was rapidly substituted in the world of arts by the term Neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity).57 Although there appears to be some controversy over the influence of Roh’s first use of the term magical realism on its later adoption by Latin American writers, it is evident that Roh’s original intention to go beyond the magic-real dichotomy had some influence over the attitude that Latin American writers adopted towards their stories and their correspondence with the world in which they lived.58 The adoption of magical realism by Latin American writers arguably began in 1948, when Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier published an essay that would later become the prologue to his book The Kingdom of this World. There, he characterized the American reality as inherently mysterious and marvelous. His famous rhetorical question at the end of his prologue “but what is the history of America if not a chronicle of the marvelous in the real?” 59 proposed a lens through which Hispano-American writers could interpret their reality and portray it in their novels. By claiming a singular essence of the American world, Carpentier endowed his literary expression                                                 56 González Echevarría, “Isla a Su Vuelo Fugitiva: Carpentier y El Realismo Mágico.”  57 As per González Echevarría, this translation has often been disputed, and the term “new matter-of factness” has claimed its place as a more accurate description of the post-expressionist movement. What we can infer from this this debate is the emphasis placed on remaining faithful to objective reality as such. This is precisely the sense of magical realism that has arguably been carried through today, as I will explain in what follows.   58 For example, Miguel Ángel Asturias’ novel El Señor Presidente (Mister President) is an example of the adoption of the techniques of magical realism to problematize the effects of authoritarian regimes in Guatemala. Likewise, Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga used similar techniques in his short stories to show men’s interaction with the natural world in Latin America.   59 Alejo Carpentier, El Reino de Este Mundo, 11th ed. (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1997).  47  with an emancipatory dimension in the context of post-colonialism: no longer were European means of interpretation suitable to interpret the American reality. This point would be later taken up by García Márquez in his Nobel Prize Lecture. There, he identified colonization as the moment when Latin America was invented as an exceptional place of fantasy, and he referred to the Crónicas de Indias60 as the first written account of this invention. I do not think he meant this as a compliment. On my reading, he was commenting on the tragedy of colonization and how a different reality (the radical alterity encountered in the New World) was misinterpreted to the point it was deemed fantastic or unreal. Paradoxically, García Márquez continues, the encounter pushed America to a place of solitude: “the interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.”61 Independence, he writes, “did not put us beyond the reach of madness.” 62 To expand on what he means, he proceeds to list a series of historical occurrences that have taken place in Latin America that appear so extraordinary that they are hardly believable: a dictator who held a massive funeral for his right leg, a general who used a pendulum to detect poison in his food, the absurdity of a statue to a prominent public figure in Tegucigalpa purchased at an European warehouse of second-hand sculptures. García Márquez writes:  I dare to think that it is this outsized reality, and not just its literary expression, that has deserved the attention of the Swedish Academy of Letters. A reality not of paper, but one that lives within us and determines each instant of our countless daily deaths, and that nourishes a source of insatiable creativity, full of sorrow and beauty, (…) Poets and beggars, musicians                                                 60 The Crónicas de Indias are a compilation of historical texts written by Spanish colonizers who were tasked by the Spanish crown to register life in the so-called “New World.”   61 Gabriel García Márquez, “The Solitude of Latin America” - Nobel Lecture, December 8th 1982,” The Georgia Review 49, no. 1 (1995): 135. “La interpretación de nuestra realidad con esquemas ajenos sólo contribuye a hacernos cada vez más desconocidos, cada vez menos libres, cada vez más solitarios.”  62 Ibid., 133. “La independencia del dominio español no nos puso a salvo de la demencia”  48  and prophets, warriors and scoundrels, all creatures of that unbridled reality, we have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable. This, my friends, is the crux of our solitude.63  This passage deserves special attention because it reveals a crucial distinction that has often been dismissed by the postcolonial reading of magical realism. Note that although García Márquez is referring to political reality, and his intentions are well alighted with the search of an authentic national identity, he simultaneously characterizes reality as unbridled, and emphasizes that he has not imagined this in his works. To be clear, he is clarifying that his work also makes metaphysical claims. Saying that reality is unbridled could mean that there is something exceptionally large or hardly containable about it, and García Márquez seems to be suggesting that the extraordinariness embedded in reality surpasses conventional means of representation. However, whenever the introduction of these magical or extraordinary elements is attributed to a cultural worldview, scholars not only occlude the metaphysical sense of magical realism, but also premise the entire approach on a fundamental fallacy. The postcolonial reading is fully dependent on a sharp distinction between what is considered magical and what is considered real, meaning that it is premised on the hegemonic, rational, and empirical understanding of what is real and what is not. In short, a postcolonial reading of magical realism remains, arguably, somewhat colonial.  This critique should not be confused with a critique of postcolonialism itself. After all, dismissing the place that books and stories occupy in the history of the world is a kind of                                                 63 Ibid., 135 (emphasis added). “Me atrevo a pensar que es esta realidad descomunal, y no sólo su expresión literaria, la que este año ha merecido la atención de la Academia Sueca de las Letras. Una realidad que no es la del papel, sino que vive con nosotros y determina cada instante de nuestras incontables muertes cotidianas, y que sustenta un manantial de creación insaciable, pleno de desdicha y de belleza (…) Poetas y mendigos, músicos y profetas, guerreros y malandrines, todas las criaturas de aquella realidad desaforada hemos tenido que pedirle muy poco a la imaginación, porque el desafío mayor para nosotros ha sido la insuficiencia de los recursos convencionales para hacer creíble nuestra vida. Este es, amigos, el nudo de nuestra soledad.”  49  unhealthy provincialism. As a Latin American woman, I am sensitive to any effort aimed at grappling with the devastating legacy of colonialism, and it would be foolish to ignore the valuable place that magical realism occupies as an authentic expression of Latin American literature in the context of the search for a shared identity.64 More than anything, I appreciate the value of any collective effort to find a voice in the struggle against an uneven distribution of power and justice in the world. This is as important now as it has ever been. However, my point is that the reduction of magical realism and its metaphysical claims to a worldview not only completely misses the point about reality, but also undermines the political project of magical realism. By confining their metaphysical claims to a cultural point of view, this approach suggests that reality is entirely subject-dependent. The pure relativism of this notion is fundamentally ambiguous, and such ambiguity negates the possibility of common ground. In other words, it negates the possibility of incorporating Latin America’s contribution to a shared understanding of reality.  There is much more to say about the ways in which the political project of magical realism is undermined by the postcolonial reading, but this is not the place to do so. For our purposes in this essay, what is important about my objection to the postcolonial reading of magical realism are its metaphysical implications. I briefly turn to this point in the next section, and then move on to expand on what I consider to be the contribution of magical realism to this                                                 64 For example, see José Martí’s Nuestra América (Our America), a philosophical essay that claims that provincialism is the existential condition of Latin Americans. Although this essay predates Carpentier’s Kingdom of this World (it was written in 1891), is an important piece of literature that bears testimony of the early attempts to establish a strong sense of shared identity apart from the hegemonic powers of colonialism. It is interesting to note that Martí lived in New York when he wrote this essay, which raises the question of his perspective and legitimacy as a representative voice of the struggles of Latin Americans.  50  discussion. I do this by offering what I believe to be a more productive interpretation of the juxtaposition of magic and reality.   3.4 The subjectivity of objectivity It should be clear by now that the task of discerning what is real and what is not is closely paired with making claims about existing things and their characteristics. For example, categorizing existing things through Rocha’s trinitarian lens is precisely a way of doing this. Yet, there is a difference between claims about existing things and claims about the independence of those things.65 The issue of independence comes down to whether things as they are exist independently of the subject, or if such things are a construct of the mind.  If we take this question seriously, inviting somebody to “imagine the real” does not seem to make much sense, because imagination (which is subjective and arguably something that happens within the mind) cannot simultaneously coexist with reality, which is objective and apparently exists outside of the mind. In short, the question of independence seems to be an either-or situation. There are strong opinions on both sides of the spectrum. In the Platonic account, for example, reality exists independently. In his theory of forms, Plato suggests that the forms constitute what is real, as opposed to their material manifestation. At first, his point on forms is counter-intuitive: how can the idea of a flower be more real than a flower that one can see or smell? For him, however, there is a certain pureness to the abstract idea of a flower that seems capable of rendering some degree of clarity on what a flower is, provided one’s mind can access said flowerness. Such access requires a turn: a turn to seek deeper than what appears to                                                 65 Alexander Miller, “Realism,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed January 11th, 2020, https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2019/entries/realism/. 51  be, trying to see things as they are. Others (notably Immanuel Kant) claim that that the idea of “flowerness” is nothing in itself. “Flowerness” is only real whenever it is summoned by the mind into existence within the borders of consciousness. Therefore, on this view, the idea of a flower does not exist independently of the subject: things only take on reality whenever we think of them, thereby implying dependency between reality and the mind. In short, the debate is about the existence of universals and particulars: is there a universal reality out there, immutable for us to grasp? Or is there nothing generalizable about reality because it is an array of particularities (or worldviews) that can only be accessed to by the individual subject? I would like to suggest that there might be some degree of truth in both sides. I personally find comfort in the thought that there is something real outside of my own mind. Any attempt to say something truthful or meaningful in these essays is born out of that hope: the hope of grasping something that is bigger than me. And apart from my personal expectation, I do not believe that gravity was born the day Newton noticed the phenomenon. Instead, gravity had always been there. However, it is hard not to wonder about the inside that played a part in Newton’s “discovery” of gravity. For example, what kind of attitude did he adopt towards reality to be able to perceive what had always been there? Was the faculty of his intellect related in some way to his capacity to access reality? Although I do not have a definitive answer to these questions, what seems true is that there are some dangers in either over or underdetermining the question of independence. Perhaps it is the case that objective and independent reality manifests itself to us in a way that requires some degree of insideness to make sense of it. This is, I believe, what Rocha meant when he invited us to imagine the real, and what magical realism accomplishes.  52  I mentioned earlier that magical realism presents us with a seemingly implausible arrangement in which the natural and the “supernatural” –reality and magic– coexist. More concretely, magical realist stories seem to ground magic in reality thus preventing either from being subsumed into the other. We could interpret this as a suggestion that there might be something inherently uncanny about reality. Perhaps, that there are some elements of the nature of reality that resist an entirely empiricist explanation. Take as an example a moment in which we experience a premonition, an intuition of a “gut feeling”, or simply whenever we are left without enough means to express causality, which is often the case when something truly horrifying has happened. In these cases, it appears that an objective description of a real event is not enough to fully account for the dimension of such an event. A way of looking at this is that the real has been altered to the point that it resists representation, and thus an unprecedented and amplified dimension of reality has been revealed. However, attending to this seemingly extraordinary dimension comes with its burdens. To start, it requires some degree of surrender to mystery: a suspension of disbelief. I would think that few people attend a magic show hoping to catch the magician in a mistake that reveals its trick. Rather, people attend to witness the mystery. This is, I believe, the invitation that magical realism extends, and the key to its metaphysical claim: such unprecedented revelation of these amplified layers of reality requires the adoption of a particular attitude towards reality. This attitude seems to be one of devotion or wonder: a desire to contemplate and account for its nature with detail and accuracy, even if –or perhaps precisely when– this means turning to the magical to render a rigorous description of how the real is manifested to the person.  I do not expect my reader to take my word without objection at this point. What I will offer in exchange for my reader’s patience in the next section is a reading of a passage of One 53  Hundred Years of Solitude where I believe the necessity to turn to the magical to render an objective description of reality is evident.   3.5 ‘There haven’t been any dead here’ There have been multiple interpretations of both the story of the Buendías and Macondo in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Scholars have identified themes such as incest, solitude, friendship, and nostalgia, among others.66 Likewise, political theorists and historians have also studied this book in their fields, producing multiple interpretations. What most of them seem to agree on, is that One Hundred Years of Solitude offers more than the story it tells. On his commentary of the novel, Mario Vargas Llosa suggests that the great accomplishment of García Márquez is his ability to narrate the story in two axes: a horizontal axis where time and story unfold, and a vertical axis where the various planes of reality are juxtaposed.67 I would even go on to suggest that the interpretative key of the text is precisely the interplay between these two axes, as it resolves the apparent antipathy between the magical and the real. On my reading, the dance between these two axes is particularly evident in the following passage of One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Towards the end of the first half of the book, Macondo was described as a prosperous town that was about to undergo a deep transformation with the arrival of los gringos, who                                                 66 For example, prominent scholars like Roberto González Echavarría, Plinio Apuyelo Mendoza, and Gabriel Welsh have studied One Hundred Years of Solitude offering multiple thematic readings. Also, literary analyses of this book are often included in theses and dissertations on Latin American literature and magical realism.   67 Mario Vargas Llosa, “Cien Años de Soledad, Realidad Total, Novela Total,” in Cien Años de Soledad, Edición Conmemorativa Real Academia Española (Bogotá: Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española, 2007), xxv–lviii.  54  arrived by train with a team of agronomists, topographers, engineers and hydrologists.68 The North-American immigrants built their home in what appeared to be a fenced fortress near Macondo and were set to establish the United Fruit Company, in the context of what García Márquez, as well as Colombian historians, have called “the banana fever.”69 The company’s arrival produced significant changes to a once flourishing and independent Macondo. For example, former merchants became waged workers, and the company’s job market attracted foreigners and entertainment otherwise unseen in the small town. The wave of transformation that came was paired with promises to bring prosperity and wealth to Macondo, but it soon became evident that locals had little to gain from the company’s operation. The unrest brought about by this realization reached a tense point shortly before a union strike where around 3,000 workers gathered in the main station of Macondo to protest for better living and working conditions. By then, Macondo was highly militarized, and the tension had spread everywhere. José Arcadio Segundo Buendía70 was one of the union leaders who attended the protest. After an                                                 68 “(…) Endowed with means that had been reserved for Divine Providence in former times, they changed the pattern of the rams, accelerated the cycle of harvest, and moved the river from where it had always been and put it with its white stones and icy currents on the other side of the town, behind the cemetery.” García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, 113. “Dotados de recursos que en otra época estuvieron reservados a la Divina Providencia modificaron el régimen de lluvias, apresuraron el ciclo de las cosechas y quitaron el río de donde estuvo siempre y lo pusieron con sus piedras blancas y sus corrientes heladas en el otro extremo de la población, detrás del cementerio.”    69 The banana fever references a historical period that started in the late nineteenth century and ended in 1929. In this period, the United States was interested in expanding its political and ideological power in the region and made extensive investments in agriculture through its companies, particularly in banana plantations considering the suitable weather conditions of the tropical countries. In Colombia, the northern regions of Magdalena and Atlántico hosted several banana plantations, most of which were owned by the United Fruit Company. For a historical account of this period and the geopolitical complexities of the banana fever see Leonardo Agudelo Velásquez, “La Industria Bananera y El Inicio de Los Conflictos Sociales Del Siglo XX,” Credencial Historia, June 2011.  70 Note that this is a different José Arcadio from the character of the passage quoted in section 3.2. The repetition of names in One Hundred Years of Solitude is a recurring technique of García Márquez, and it has been related to the theme of time, which García Márquez characterizes as circular.   55  ultimatum by the military to retreat within five minutes, he screamed ¡cabrones! (you bastards!), and his scream ignited a massacre: the military opened fire and started shooting the protesters.  When Jose Arcadio awoke, everything was dark. He soon realized he was lying in a train against dead people: “Those who had put them in the car had had time to pile them up in the same way in which they transported bunches of bananas.”71 He managed to step out of the train, and before running away he looked at the train: “It was the longest one he had ever seen, with almost two hundred freight cars and a locomotive at either end and a third one in the middle.”72 Three hours later, he reached Macondo by foot at dawn, and upon seeing a woman leaning over a stove said: -There must have been three thousand of them, he murmured. -What? -The dead, he clarified. It must have been all of the people who were at the station. The woman measured him with a pitying look. 'There haven’t been any dead here', she said. 'Since the times of your uncle the Colonel, nothing has happened'. 73   “There haven’t been any dead here” became the official version of the story. José Arcadio walked into three different places where he was told the same thing. By the time he reached the station where the slaughter had taken place just the night before, there were no traces of the massacre: the dead, the blood, and the military had disappeared. This story, as narrated in One Hundred Years of Solitude, has a tragic historical correspondence. The Banana Massacre actually                                                 71 García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, 150. “Quienes los habían puesto en el vagón tuvieron tiempo de arrumarlos en el orden y sentido en que se transportaban los racimos de banano”  72 Ibid., 150. “era el más largo que había visto nunca, con casi doscientos vagones de carga”  73 Ibid., 151. “-Debían ser como tres mil—murmuró  -¿Qué?  -Los muertos—aclaró el— Debían ser todos los que estaban en la estación. La mujer lo midió con una mirada de lástima. 'aquí no ha habido muertos', dijo. Desde los tiempos de tu tío, el coronel, no ha pasado nada.”     56  happened in Colombia. It took place in the town of Ciénaga, Magdalena, where workers of the United Fruit Company (which is known today as Chiquita Brands International) were murdered by machine guns under/on orders of the central government.74 For many years, the massacre was swept out of the books of history: it was not reported by the news nor was it noticed by the rest of the country. Three thousand people disappeared. 75 Of course, one needs to be cautious when using a book of fiction as historical evidence, and in fact, there is some debate among historians around the exact correspondences of numbers and factual details.76 Despite this, stories do convey some aspects of the lived conditions under which a historical event took place. In this particular case, whatever the exact correspondences between history and story might be, there is little doubt that in reality there was a massacre, and it was forgotten. The way García Márquez describes the event, by introducing the magical element of disappearance and immediate collective forgetfulness, comes across as the most accurate description of what actually happened: the murder of three thousand people going unnoticed. The event itself (the real) has such an oversized dimension that it has been surpassed by objective means of representation. Reality required a turn to imagination. García Márquez resorts to the magical to convey the full extent of the event, and thereby renders an even more accurate description of the way in which reality manifested itself. In this particular case, on my reading, he accomplishes such an accurate                                                 74 For a full reconstruction of the historical origins and development of the strike that led to the banana massacre see Judith White, Historia de una ignominia: la United Fruit Company en Colombia (Bogota: Editorial Presencia, 1978).   75 García Márquez on the historical correspondence: “What happens is that in Latin America, by decree a thing like three thousand dead people can be forgotten. That what seems fantastic is extracted from the most miserable daily reality” Ernesto González Bermejo, “García Márquez: Ahora Doscientos Años de Soledad,” Revista Triunfo, November 14, 1970.   76 This debate is carefully discussed in: Eduardo Posada Carbó, “Fiction as History: The Bananeras and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Journal of Latin American Studies 30, no. 2 (1998): 395–414. 57  description by contemplating and describing rigorously the interaction between existence and subsistence, which in this case is a reverse interaction. The absence of material evidence –the bodies, or any trace of the massacre– is what is real. The suppression of the massacre from collective memory, which is a historical fact, can also be understood as a force subsisting underneath the plane of materiality. The willingness to forget penetrated into existence so deeply that it modified reality, allowing for “there were no dead here” to become the account of what happened. In this case, the disappearance overtook reality: subsistence took precedence over existence, putting into evidence both the material and immaterial conditions of the story. Notably, “there were no dead here” operates like a magic trick. Some could say that it is a form of escapism from the event, but it might be the exact opposite: it is a turn to the event itself: the expansion of a particular attitude towards reality. Stepping out of the novel and into the world, García Márquez bridges the gap between story and reality by narrating through the magic, and indeed renders a rigorous and accurate picture of the facts. It is perhaps a renewed matter-of-factness that results from a privileged revelation of the dynamism and complexity of the layers of reality. A question that seems to be brewing is: how does such revelation occur? What are the conditions under which the person cuts across the real and is able to glimpse into reality? I argue that this is fundamentally an educational question.   3.6 Magical realism and education Early in this essay I wondered whether the question of the real (as constituted by the things that exist in the world) could help us in the task of discerning reality in its heavier metaphysical sense. I entertained the thought that our grasp of reality requires both insideness and outsideness, and discussed magical realism a literary example of this. Through this literary 58  genre, I claimed that sometimes the real is manifested to us in an excessive or oversized manner that requires a turn to imagination or to the extraordinary to be represented, and thus apprehended.77 I noted that this turn to the extraordinary (i.e. the magical) has been easily dismissed by arguing that there is nothing universal about reality, thereby imposing the burden of creating reality entirely on the subject. I argued that this attitude imposes an arbitrary characterization of the real by confining it to what can be directly verified by the senses and rules of logical causality, thus neglecting the inherent incommensurability and mysteriousness of the overarching concept of reality. This showed that reality is constituted by a dynamic arrangement of layers that resist a flat interpretation, and yet are revealed to the person through the constant manifestation of the real. This means, in turn, that grappling with reality is a task that necessitates a mediator, which is always the person in its unique subjectivity.  An issue that emerges is the particular disposition that the person adopts to be attuned with the interplay between inside and outside that makes a grasp of reality possible. At once, this bears an educational question: is this something that one learns? Is imagining the real something that can be taught? Is the insideness that is needed to discern the inherent otherness of things (which is another way of saying “magicalness”, strangeness or extraordinariness) something that we can foster through education? It seems clear that the primary inspiration required to engage in the task of discerning things is precisely the attention paid to such things. More concretely, the                                                 77 One implication of saying this is that that the act of describing the real is a constitutive part of making sense of it. This is in itself a fertile topic of discussion, but my aim here remains observing the way in which accounting for the real can inform the person about reality. However, it seems unavoidable that that the act of describing the world is a necessary condition for making it apprehensible. In this sense, the role of story becomes crucial. García Márquez devoted considerable attention to this in his essay Cuánto Cuesta Hacer un Escritor (‘What does it take to make a writer’), as well as in the early pages of his autobiography Vivir para Contarla. See: Gabriel García Márquez, Vivir Para Contarla, 1st. (Buenos Aires: Editorial Sudamericana, 2002).  59  disposition to study the real and account in full for the whole array of layers of reality, which more often than not appears to the person as unbridled or oversized. The issue, then, is whether this deliberate attentiveness is a desirable outcome of education. If we can agree that education aims for reality, I believe the answer to this question is a resounding yes.  It is often the case that people refer to education interchangeably with schooling. Schools seem to be particularly interested in children learning about reality. We see boards of education, schools and teachers —who are acting in good faith and with the best interest of their students in mind—working to foster critical thinking skills, help children master the scientific method, and understand the rules of logic so that they are able to perceive “reality.” In science class, students learn that bodies are made of cells, and cells have certain functions and so on. Historically, progressive education, with its emphasis on experiential learning and interaction with the “real” world contributed in great measure to amplify education’s commitment to reality, and from there we have seen the growing emphasis on science, logic, technology, etc. While all this is useful and hopefully provides some foundations for the use of our intellect, I remain concerned that this might not be enough to cultivate the inner disposition needed to contemplate the real, which is perhaps the only way in which we can imagine it and understand it in its full extent. It may be the case that education involves honoring the appearance of the real, but also cultivating the pursue of an attitude that allows the student to go further and pierce through it and wonder about reality as such. What is even more important, and this is my last remark, is that the attitude and disposition to devote careful consideration to how things are is a necessary condition to form a hypothetical representation of another version of reality. In other words, it is only through the act of imagining the real that we become aware of our possibility to transform it.    60  Chapter 4: When they were told to stop giving birth  4.1 The act of appearing before others In her book The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt pointed to the public sphere, “der oefentliche Raum” not only as a place in which ideas are debated and decided upon, but also as a place in which individuals appear to one another. As a space of appearance, the public sphere is not inevitably a “place” in the physical or institutional sense of the word. It is neither the Agora in Ancient Greece, nor necessarily the plaza before parliament in a modern city. Rather, the Arendtian public sphere can emerge wherever and whenever people come together to act together, discuss their commonalities and differences, and search for collective agreements to live in the common world.78 However, it is worth noting that we do not “disclose some kind of preexisting identity” in the act of appearing before one another, as noted by Biesta.79 Paraphrasing Arendt, he writes “nobody knows whom he reveals when he discloses himself in deed or word.” In this sense, the act of coming together to act together in the space of appearance (i.e., the public sphere) is a performative act. In other words, it has the capacity of shaping and sustaining the subjectivity of those who appear before one another through its enactment. On my reading, what this means is that the sense of self results (at least to some degree) from interacting with others and taking part in public life.80 It should be evident that this runs counter to the                                                 78 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998).  79 Gert Biesta, “How to Exist Politically and Learn from It: Hannah Arendt and the Problem of Democratic Education,” Teachers College Record (1970) 112, no. 2 (2010): 556.  80 Note that what is meant by participation in public life, as per Arendt’s idea of the public sphere, is not limited to physical interaction (i.e. face-to-face). In today’s world, such interaction can emerge online, for example.  61  common idea that the construction of identity is something that happens entirely in the intimacy of one’s private world. Still, while the private world has a part to play, Arendt invites us to consider that interacting with others in the public realm has the capacity to both disclose and define who we are.  If education also has something to do with the constitution of who we are, as I believe it does, Arendt’s notion of the public sphere raises the question of its relationship to education. Specifically, we may ask what role does the education of adults play in determining who appears in the public sphere, and what this person is expected to do whenever they take part in public life. To address this question, I explore in this essay the concepts of personhood and democratic citizenship, and consider their relation to education.81 I discuss two examples that are underpinned by different understandings of these concepts in the context of the current situation of massive forced migration from Venezuela to Colombia. Each example has a radically different way of answering the question who appears in the public sphere (personhood), and what this person is expected to do in terms of the attitudes and dispositions they adopt (citizenship). Ultimately, it is my suggestion that the competing answers to these questions have something important to say about education in the context of a democratic society, because of their competing understandings of what education is and the purposes it serves. In the first part of this essay, I provide a brief overview of the current migratory flows between Venezuela and Colombia, and introduce the concept of aporophobia to illuminate the responses that the current immigration flow has elicited within the Colombian society. Secondly, I turn to a description of                                                 81 It should be evident by now that the concept of the public sphere is also present in this essay. However, in what follows I do not address it separately, but I rather understand the public sphere as the context that frames my discussion around personhood, democratic citizenship, and education.  62  the purposes of the program Migración Productiva and the campaign Venezuela Aporta, and identify the particular aspect of adult education under which each can be understood. I then analyze the program and the campaign in light of their competing notions of personhood and citizenship, and in the last section, I think through the concepts of personhood and citizenship in relation to each other and explore the idea that taking part in the public sphere is a central part of our being-in-the-world.  Before these sections, I would like to make a general point on the significance of the examples I am discussing here. Migración Productiva (Productive Migration), is a nation-wide initiative sponsored by the government of Colombia aimed at training incoming Venezuelan migrants for their effective insertion in the workforce. Venezuela Aporta (Venezuela Contributes) is a public art campaign led by a grassroots movement aimed at using art to convey the experiences and contested meanings of borders and identity as experienced by Venezuelan migrants. My point is that although these examples are very particular to the Latin-American context (and are further circumscribed to Venezuela and Colombia), it is my hope that the insights drawn from these cases are scalable and can shed light onto the field of educational research by contributing to a better understanding of the role of education in the definition of who is allowed to appear to others in public and how this is set to happen.   4.2 When the poor migrated   In the early 2000’s the global market witnessed a surge in oil prices, which brought a massive influx of money to the oil-based Venezuelan economy. The populist government of Hugo Chávez consolidated its authority around these resources and implemented a series of measures aimed at centralizing its power. Since the economy over-relied on oil, when the prices 63  dropped, Venezuela faced a massive crisis that was poorly managed by the government. The crisis continued through the government of Chávez’s successor Nicolás Maduro, and up to now the country faces high levels of unemployment, hyperinflation, extreme poverty, and starvation. An internal United Nations report consulted by Reuters estimates that 94% of the population in Venezuela currently lives under conditions of poverty, around 1.2 million children are not attending school, and an additional 1 million were likely to drop out in 2019.82 As a result of the politic, economic and social situation in Venezuela, more than 10% of its population has been forced to leave their home. For example, between 2015 and 2018, 3.4 million people left Venezuela. In 2019, 5 million Venezuelans emigrated and 1.9 million additional migrants are expected to leave in 2020.83 While migrants have fled to places all over the world, neighboring Colombia is the main receptor of Venezuelan migrants. According to the Organization of American States, in 2017 around 600,000 Venezuelans crossed the Colombian with the intention of permanently settling there. Through its Migration Office, the Colombian government estimates that around 1,202,000 Venezuelans currently live in Colombia, but the figure does not include migrants who are currently under undocumented status.84 It is important to bear in mind that Venezuela and Colombia share a 2,219 kilometer85 border that is located in an area of rough                                                 82 Michelle Nichols. "Venezuelans Facing Unprecedented Challenges, Many Need Aid -..." Reuters. February 3, 2019. Accessed February 19, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-un/venezuelans-facingunprecedented-challenges-many-need-aid-internal-u-n-report-idUSKCN1R92AG.  83 Publicaciones Semana, “Éxodo: Migración De Venezolanos y Crisis” Revista Semana, February 2018.  84 Grupo de Trabajo de la OEA, “Informe Preliminar Sobre La Crisis de Migrantes y Refugiados Venezolanos En La Región” (Washington DC: OEA (Organización de Estados Americanos), March 8, 2019). http://www.oas.org/docs/grupo-trabajo-venezuela/informe-preliminar-mar-2019/es/Informe%20preliminar%20sobre%20las%20crisis%20de%20migrantes%20y%20refugiados%20venezolanos%20en%20las%20regi%C3%B3n.html.  85 1,378 miles. 64  meteorological and geographical conditions, which makes the presence of authorities an ever-present challenge for both governments and facilitates the transit of undocumented migrants.86  Historically, Colombians have left the country due to its own internal conflicts, which include a civil war that lasted for more than half a century and caused enormous impact in every sphere of life for the past years. To be clear, Colombia has a history of “exporting” migrants, rather than welcoming them, as is perhaps the case of Canada or the United States. Due to the situation in neighboring Venezuela, for the first time in Colombian history the country is experiencing an elevated number of incoming migrants during a short period of time. Even so, Venezuelan migration to Colombia is not a new phenomenon: the Venezuelan diaspora started as early as 1990. Researchers from Universidad del Rosario have identified three waves of immigration. The first group were high level business executives attracted by the globalization of the economy. The second wave happened when Chávez rose to power in 1999. At that moment, it was skilled professionals (mostly from the oil industry) who fled Venezuela and resettled in Colombia upon seeing the increasing intervention of the Venezuelan government in oil companies. They were subsequently followed by a group of middle class professionals with technical skills in diverse fields.87 In sum, during the first two waves of immigration it was mainly skilled, high or middle-class Venezuelans who left the country and resettled in Colombia due to the rising tension brought by the Chávez-Maduro regime. The third wave of migration started in 2016, and it continues to unfold as I write these words. As a result of the deepening                                                 86 Sociedad Geográfica de Colombia, Frontera Con Venezuela, Digital integrated map (IGAC, 2002), http://www.sogeocol.edu.co/Ova/fronteras_colombia/fronteras/venezuela/venezuela.html.  87 Juan Carlos Gustaquí et al., “Características de Los Migrantes de Venezuela a Colombia,” Reporte del Observatorio Laboral de la Universidad del Rosario (Bogotá: Universidad del Rosario, 2017), https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c80f3a_d2e0a0b4821e4238ae021904026a4459.pdf.  65  crisis resulting from Venezuela’s economic policies, the flow of migrants rose significantly with respect to previous years.88 These third-wave migrants are mostly low-income, marginalized families who have been forced to leave their homes due to food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation and a widespread unavailability of health services and jobs in Venezuela. Whereas any situation of migration that is caused by an unsettling situation in the country of origin is considered a forced or involuntary phenomenon, it is reasonable to say that it is migrants of this last wave who have experienced the most challenging conditions. Not only has the crisis in Venezuela worsened since the first migrants arrived in Colombia, but also the socio-demographic composition of these third-wave migrants puts them in a significantly increased position of vulnerability, disadvantage, and exclusion. The Colombian government has struggled to respond effectively to the increasing immigration flow: there are few formal regulations in place, which opens the door to a significant degree of improvisation at the local level to address the impending situation.  It should be noted that despite the fact that migration from Venezuela to Colombia is not a new phenomenon, the perception of this situation as a problem or nuisance within the Colombian society only started after the third wave of immigration arrived. Increasingly, the presence of Venezuelans is used as a scapegoat of any and every issue that Colombia faces. A study carried out by Oxfam in 2019 on the existing perceptions around Venezuelan immigration showed that people were concerned about the effects of Venezuelan immigration on insecurity, lack of security in jobs, and poor provision of social services by the government. However, the                                                 88 Publicaciones Semana, “Éxodo: Migración De Venezolanos y Crisis.”  66  report also shows that many of the issues that people appear to be concerned with are conditions that were already a problem in Colombia before the migration flow increased.89  Such response by Colombians is a good example of what Spanish philosopher Adela Cortina has named aporfobia (aporophobia in English). Aporophobia is a neologism that was only recognized and included in the official Spanish dictionary in 2017 by the Royal Spanish Academy. The word comes from the Greek aporos, which means poor, or without resources, and phobia, which means fear. Somebody might say that there is no need for this word, given that we already have multiple terms to talk about the systematic discrimination of people. For example, at first glance it seems that “xenophobia” describes the situation that the Venezuelan migrants are experiencing in Colombia. However, Cortina is quick to remind us that the history of humanity is also the history of naming things, and that there is something powerful about this act of naming: whenever we are able to pin down a situation accurately by naming it, we recognize it, identify it, and more importantly, we assume a position with respect to it.90 Cortina argues that rejection of the poor is a distinct phenomenon that should not be confused with xenophobia, which is fear or rejection of strangers. She uses a simple example to support her distinction. In 2017, Spain opened its doors to 81 million tourists who did not seem to elicit sentiments of rejection despite being foreign nationals. On the contrary, academic institutions offer degrees on hospitality management that are aimed at creating even more favorable conditions for the attraction of these “strangers.” That same year, entering through the Spanish border, Europe                                                 89 Pablo Rivero, “Si, Pero No Aquí: Percepciones de Xenofobia y Discriminación Hacia Migrantes de Venezuela En Colombia, Ecuador y Perú.” (Oxfam International, Octubre 24 de 2019), https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/620890/bp-si-pero-no-aqui-251019-es.pdf?sequence=8&isAllowed=y.  90 Adela Cortina. Aporofobia, El Rechazo Al Pobre: Un Desafío Para La Democracia. Barcelona: Paidós, 2017. 	67  received a similar number of displaced persons. These “strangers” arrived in boats through the Mediterranean, but they were not met with hospitality. Rather, they encountered hostility. Both groups are foreigners, but only those who are poor are rejected.  It bears noting that by “poor” Cortina does not only mean economically poor. She means “those who apparently do not have anything to contribute.”91 For example, in this context, ableism would be a specific manifestation of the broader attitude of aporophobia in the sense that persons living with a mental or physical disability may appear to be unable to contribute to the economy. Cortina’s definition of the aporos (the poor) is rooted in her reading of our current societies as reciprocal. She rejects the idea that human beings are inherently egoistic and that their only interest is the individual maximization of benefit. Rather, she points to the fact that in general, our society functions under a contract of cooperation: we are willing to fulfill our obligations whenever the state guarantees our rights, we participate in the buying and selling game of the economy because we receive something in exchange, and so on. In her words, we tend to prefer positive-sum games over zero-sum games.92 In the context of migration, when we perceive that a group does not have enough resources to take part in the game of exchange, we exclude them.93  Drawing from Cortina’s concept of aporophobia we can think about the situation of Venezuelans in Colombia. Note that Colombians did not perceive Venezuelan immigration as a problem during the first and second waves: these migrants were thought to have something to                                                 91 Ibid.  92 Ibid.   93 By resources Cortina means money to participate in the economy, votes to participate in politics, workforce to contribute to the job market, etc.   68  contribute such as skills to strengthen the national oil industry, money to invest in the economy, etc. However, immigration became undesirable when the poor of the third wave arrived.  A newspaper article published by prominent journalist Claudia Palacios in June 2019 is a good example of the situation of aporophobia in Colombia. The article, titled Paren de Parir (Stop Giving Birth), claimed that the “invasion” of poor Venezuelan families with children on the streets was a major disturbance, and that controlling the natality rates of Venezuelan migrants needed to be considered a government priority.94 Palacios’ logic was that Venezuelans chose to have children in order to access government aid. Using a condescending tone, “dear Venezuelans”, she urges them to “understand that here [Colombia] is not like in your country [Venezuela]”, and to act accordingly by abstaining to have more children. The article was met with multiple responses. Although there were some who expressed disagreement and talked about the profoundly xenophobic -or better yet aporophobic- nature of her remarks (especially academics and other journalists), the bulk of responses went in the direction of praising Palacios for daring to say in public what they were already thinking in private. She was interviewed by several news outlets following the publication and its ensuing controversy, and every time she stood by her words. This article brought into the national conversation the polarized views within the Colombian society and pressured the national government to respond to the impending situation.                                                  94 Claudia Palacios, “Paren De Parir,” El Tiempo, June 12, 2019, https://www.eltiempo.com/opinion/columnistas/claudia-palacios/paren-de-parir-columna-de-claudia-isabel-palacios-giraldo-374742.  69  4.3 Competing responses Shortly after the controversy triggered by Palacios’ article, the Colombian government launched a program designed in response to the increasing inflow of migrants. The program, called Migración Productiva (Productive Migration), was widely advertised in radio stations and television across the country, and was exclusively targeted at Venezuelans. Those who entered into the program would receive training in business, marketing, and Colombian corporate law95 with the purpose of developing “integration mechanisms” and the generation of “corporate value.”96 The program, which is still ongoing, seems to operate under the principles of lifelong learning, as per Terri Seddon’s definition in her article “Adult Education and the Learning ‘turn.’” In this program, a strong emphasis is placed on the subject’s responsibility for the constant acquisition and renovation of skills needed to be competitive in the new labor market. According to Seddon, such emphasis corresponds to a shift that started in the 90’s and changed the discourse around adult education in light of the acceleration of the economy. By that point, no longer was it enough for adults to be able to read and write, or for a professional to have attended university once in their life. With such changes, adults now needed to remain economically active and keep up with the consolidation of neoliberalism and the growing economy. Since then, and onwards, adults have assumed a predisposition to maneuver always                                                 95 Corporate law in Colombia is the body of jurisprudence that regulates the obligations, rights and operations of corporations and institutions that are constituted as non-human legal entities (also known as legal persons). Participants of Migración Productiva received training in basic aspects of the regulations governing corporations in Colombia such as requirements to incorporate a company, tax compliance, liquidation of a business, among others.    96 Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá, “Migración Productiva,” Página oficial de la Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá. Updated July 10th 2019, accessed February 2nd 2019 https://www.ccb.org.co/Sala-de-prensa/Noticias-Fortalezca-su-empresa/2019/Junio-2019/Migracion-Productiva-para-fortalecer-empresa  70  looking for new knowledge across their lifetime.97 Along the same lines, lifelong education poses a demand on educational institutions to play a role in offering these new opportunities for learning. This logic is evident in the program Migración Productiva, which is designed to be imparted through a partnership with local universities and schools of business who reach out to experts in the field to train participants. The assumption behind this lifelong learning initiative is that through the acquisition and renovation of skills, Venezuelan migrants can better perform in the competitive labor market.  A radically different approach to the Venezuelan migration can be found in the art of Jean Betancourt (or Garek, his artistic name). Garek is a Venezuelan graffiti artist who relocated in Bogotá after forcefully migrating from his hometown Caracas. He belongs to a movement called Venezuela Aporta (Venezuela Contributes) which brings together artists who address issues of identity, borders and migration through their art.98 The movement groups tattoo and lettering artists, as well as illustrators, digital and street artists who have had to leave their home and relocate in Colombia, and have found in art a way of addressing their situation. In the case of Garek, he does so through street art, which is his way of placing an intrinsic value on migration, while at the same time emphasizing the complementarity between the two cultures. For example, his graffiti are known to often include a flower, which he claims represents “everything that is tropical, the Latin identity” and invites us to “recognize each other beyond borders”99 [my                                                 97 Terri Seddon, “Adult Education and the ‘Learning’ Turn,” in The Palgrave International Handbook on Adult and Lifelong Education and Learning, ed. Marcella Milana et al. (London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2018), 111–31.  98 Júlia Farràs, “Cuatro artistas gráficos venezolanos que enriquecen la escena en Bogotá,” Cartel Urbano, September 21, 2018, https://cartelurbano.com/arte/cuatro-artistas-graficos-venezolanos-que-enriquecen-la-escena-en-bogota.  99 Ibid.   71  translation]. When asked about the critical situation Venezuelans are facing when having to leave their home, he says that “migration is a cyclical process that is necessary to complement each other. Years before, other Latin Americans also arrived in Venezuela, and that made us culturally richer”100 [my translation]. It bears noting that Garek’s art takes place in the public space, i.e. the street, which is inevitably there for anybody to see, which is why Venezuela Aporta can be better understood in light of the principles and purposes of popular education.  Popular education is grounded historically in the movement of resistance of marginalized individuals or social groups.101 From this marginalized position, and building on literacy, it aims for emancipation. It should be noted, however, that being able to think about political action and struggle for change is not a skill that one can acquire. Rather, it is a disposition: it becomes something of the constitution of the human person, to think of oneself differently and desire transformation. It is, by definition, a political education. These purposes are readily evident in Garek’s art. For example, Figure 1 shows one of Garek’s graffiti pieces that reads: we are all migrants. Arendt’s point on the performative nature of appearing in the public sphere is clear here: by appearing to others in the public sphere in a certain way, this piece of art is also bringing about a sense of belonging and identity that seeks the transformation of power relations. In fact, his graffiti runs counter to these relations conveying an egalitarian project: by establishing that we are all migrants, nobody can claim priority over others. One could read his art as an attempt to instill feelings that enable the creation of a common home for people in the world. However, as it is always the case with art, there is wide room for interpretation between artist and                                                 100 Ibid.   101 Danilo R. Streck and Cheron Zanini Moretti (2018). Latin America: Adult and popular education in dialogue. In The Palgrave international handbook on adult and lifelong education and learning, edited. by Marcella Milana, Sue Webb, John Holford, Richard Waller, and Peter Jarvis (pp. 443-459). London: Palgrave Macmillan.   72  spectator. Coming across a piece of street art such as Garek’s graffiti can either create a dialogue (in which case his project would also have some pedagogical character), or simply be considered as the means that somebody used to express a political view that the spectator can choose to ignore. Despite this, what seems to be true in Garek’s case, is that whenever he enacts his political intentions through street art, which is inevitably there for anybody to see (including Venezuelans, Colombians and anybody else who walks that street) he distributes the need for change more evenly. In other words, regardless of whether his invitation is taken up or not by his spectators, his art invites both Colombians and Venezuelans to entertain the thought that there may be something to think about forced migration and displacement. Contrastingly, Migración Productiva places the burden of change solely on the migrant.   Figure 1: Todos Somos Migrantes (We Are All Migrants). Reproduced with permission of the artist. Jean Betancourt (@mr.garek), “Todos somos migrantes” Instagram photo, January 31, 2019, https://www.instagram.com/p/BtTdRHXlAwD/.    73  Both Venezuela Aporta and Migración Productiva offer interventions that try to change people in a particular way. One of the key differences is that these programs appear to challenge a univocal understanding of the type of person who is allowed to be part of the idea of Colombia as a nation state. This is of no small importance, as I will explain in the following section, because what appears to be at stake is the very definition of person.   4.4 Who appears? Given the recent nature of these programs (both started less than a year ago), at this point it is still early to properly assess their impacts. However, from the way in which these initiatives are presented to the public we learn that they both suggest radically different understandings around who is expected to appear before others. In other words, both programs have competing notions of personhood. While Migración Productiva positions subjects as lacking something that needs to be provided through education in order to adequately take part in the public sphere, Venezuela Aporta engages with subjects –already– as “full” persons that inherently have something to contribute.102 Take a simple comparison between the titles of each program for an example. The choice of Migración Productiva (Productive Migration) as a name for the program implies that there is such thing as unproductive migration, and that the way to make migration productive is through the acquisition of a set of skills by the newcomers. In other words, the program does not seek redistribution or recognition, but rather shows a material and economic understanding of education. Under this logic, the migrant is invited to appear in the public sphere under very specific terms: as a business person with a very particular expertise, which implies                                                 102 Andreas Fejes reached a similar conclusion after analyzing the program Swedish from Day One. See Andreas Fejes, “Adult Education and the Fostering of Asylum Seekers as ‘Full’ Citizens,” International Review of Education 65, no. 2 (April 1, 2019): 233–50. 74  that there is something that needs to be changed or transformed in the migrant. The human person is presented as a lacking entity that needs to be amended so that it can become something more desirable. The key seems to be a conviction that this transformation is possible, because participants can be acted upon. On the other hand, the title Venezuela Aporta (Venezuela Contributes) seems to acknowledge an inherent or ever-present wholeness of personhood by establishing that Venezuelans already possess whatever is necessary to take part in public life: they have something to contribute. In this case, subjects are persons with inherent knowledge, who consequently have the possibility of action. There is no need to act upon the subjects, as they are engaged already as a complete whole that does not need to be transformed.  These competing notions of personhood, as well as its implications, are perhaps better understood in light of Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Throughout his book he characterized the situation of oppression as a state of fundamental de-humanization (or depersonalization) that distorts the ontological and historical vocation to ser mais (be more, as per the original Portuguese version.)103 It is through a banking model of education, Freire claims, that the depersonalization and subsequent objectification occurs. In this model, people cannot be, because the only margin for action that they are offered is limited to receiving deposits and archiving them. He subsequently writes: “at the bottom, however, the great archives are men, in                                                 103 There is an important note on translation. When I first read Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed I did so in Spanish, my mother tongue. In the Spanish version, the expression “ser mais” is translated as “ser más” (be more), which corresponds exactly with the original Portuguese version. However, after attending Sam Rocha’s lecture on the book, he pointed at the fact that such correspondence is not the case with the English translation by Myra Bergman-Ramos. As documented in his essay ‘“Ser Mais’: The Personalism of Paulo Freire”, the passage “the ontological and historical vocation to be more” is translated in the English version as “the ontological and historical vocation of becoming more fully human”, which does not correspond with the original text. The mistake is of no small importance, because according to Rocha, it leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of Freire’s radical and transcendental call on persons to be more. Whenever I allude to the historical and ontological vocation to be more in this essay, I do so with Freire’s original Portuguese sense in mind.   75  this mistaken ‘banking’ concept of education.”104 What this means, as noted by Rocha in his essay Ser Mais: The Personalism of Paulo Freire, is that “the true danger of a banking model of education is personalist in nature (…) the archives are not merely stored within people, but, far more radically, the archives are the people, those dissolved by an objectifying pedagogy.”105 This seems to be the case in Migración Productiva, where participants are positioned as lacking something that can be acquired through [a banking model of] education, through which new business skills will be instilled in them so that they can become something else. What we see here is the emergence of a subjectivity that is not full, and thus needs some action in order to be amended and become desirable. Interestingly, in this particular case, it appears that not every migrant can potentially overcome its lack of fullness. The program is targeted at Venezuelan migrants who “have an entrepreneurship attitude, are creative and have a desire for growth”106 [my translation]. This formulation not only logically implies that some people do not desire growth, but it also means that only those who are creative and have an entrepreneurship attitude possess the preconditions needed for a full transformation.  Throughout his book, Freire uses oppositions to build his argument: personalization and depersonalization, oppression and liberation, prescription and co-construction are some examples of this. These dialectical assemblies are also useful to compare the competing notions of personhood of these two programs. As opposed to the objectifying act of Migración Productiva,                                                 104 Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 51.  105 Samuel Rocha D., “Ser Mais’: The Personalism of Paulo Freire” in: Philosophy of Education 2018, edited by Megan Laverty. Urbana, IL: Philosophy of Education Society, in press. (74th Annual Meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society, March 22-26): 381–82.  106 Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá, “Migración Productiva.”   76  Venezuela Aporta positions migrants as persons who already have something to contribute. In the case of Garek’s art, he makes it clear what his contribution is: he presents his personal experience of migration as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of our shared Latin American identity. However, in general, what is interesting about this approach is that the contribution of persons to the public sphere is not pre-determined. Rather, it is constructed with others through the act of participation. In this sense, to use Freire’s words, Venezuela Aporta does not alienate ignorance: it does not place it on the other who needs to be amended. On the contrary, how to appear before others as a human person remains an open question for everybody to answer. Under this alternative notion of personhood, engagement and participation acquire a different sense, one through which enacting citizenship remains ambivalent in terms of its ends.   4.5 Broadening citizenship  In the last section I explored the notion of personhood as it referred to the competing ways in which the question “who appears before others” is answered differently by Migración Productiva and Venezuela Aporta. At the beginning of this essay, I placed an emphasis on the performative nature of this act of appearing, which immediately carries the concept of personhood to the inter-subjective domain. That is, I explored personhood as it refers to others. Even so, the idea of personhood seems to precede any arrangement made to live together. It seems to be a primordial question: what do we mean by human person. There is something seemingly sacred or fundamental in this question. Alternatively, the notion of citizenship appears to be more fluid and less fundamental. By less fundamental I do not mean less important, I simply mean less primordial or structural. I will return to this point in the final portion of this essay, but for now it is important to consider that citizenship and personhood remain different 77  concepts. Somebody might say that they are not altogether different, in the sense that often that idea of citizenship is analyzed in terms of the way governments influence and construct a particular identity such as Canadian, Colombian woman, man, etc. And yes, how we come to think about citizenship in the sense of identity construction is certainly underpinned by a particular idea of personhood. However, this does not mean that they are the same thing.  Over the last decades, and particularly in the context of globalization, the notion of citizenship has increasingly occupied the conversation. It is indeed an ambiguous term. Citizenship can mean membership to a political community such as a nation state, which is a status that comes with an array of legal rights such as holding a passport, voting, and enjoying protection from the government. This normally happens in exchange for the fulfillment of certain duties such as paying taxes, obeying the law, and contributing to the economy. Under this notion, citizens adhere to the established rules through which a democratic nation functions. Alternatively, another understanding of what being a citizen means is through a more active role that subjects assume by actively engaging with political institutions. Under this notion, citizens are understood as subjects who can enact change through participation. Naturally, the type and degree of participation as well as subsequent change can greatly vary. For example, voting is a way to exercise participatory citizenship that does not require a massive effort from citizens under most circumstances. However, there are other ways of exercising participatory citizenship that are more radical in the sense that they aim at mobilizing society towards remedying injustices. The fundamental difference between these two understandings of citizenship is that the latter does not seek to normalize the status quo, but rather aims at building an alternative version of reality. On this view participation becomes the pedagogical tool to address injustice.  78  In any case, under either definition of citizenship, what is required from citizens is not only skills. “Citizenship” encompasses a particular set of dispositions or attitudes that a person adopts to take part in life within a democratic collectivity. Whether these dispositions involve a perspective of participation or not is indeed at the core of what I mean when I say that Venezuela Aporta and Migración Productiva have competing notions of citizenship. Venezuela Aporta, allows for a broadened notion of citizenship that includes the intention of setting the world anew through participation. What this means is that there is a wider space for the process through which citizens can participate in a democracy by appearing before others in their full authenticity, thus coming closer to an idea of participatory citizenship. In the case of this program, the learning outcome is precisely to interact and participate. What is interesting about this, as opposed to Migración Productiva, is that knowledge does not pre-exist the encounter. Rather, knowledge is produced by the encounter: by the act of appearing through participation. Arguably, with street art, as is the case of Garek’s work, the room between teacher and learner is loose. There is considerable space for imagination and interpretation, meaning that this type of participatory citizenship can remain ambivalent in terms of its ends. For example, my reading of the graffiti shown in Figure 2 is that Garek is trying to reclaim the dignity of those who migrated but continue to resist the injustices of their own country, while facing new ones in their new home. However, there can be other interpretations of this piece, but this is precisely the point: it does not matter. What is relevant is the act of participation itself, enacted by citizens taking part 79  in the public sphere as persons with history, identity, issues and something to contribute. Again, in this case the process is the learning.   Figure 2: Nunca Nos Fuimos Siempre Resistimos (We never left, we always resisted). Reproduced with permission of the artist. Jean Betancourt (@mr.garek), “Nunca Nos Fuimos, Siempre Resistimos ” Instagram photo, November 25th, 2018, https://www.instagram.com/p/BqnlB7MFXmo/  Alternatively, in the case of Migración Productiva, it is clear that this program places an emphasis on the learning outcome of the educational process, namely the acquisition of skills related to business development. By directing the program towards this specific outcome, there is a narrow space left for participation or dialogue, as the outcome is fixed and linked to a particular understanding of what successful or productive migration is, as previously discussed. In this sense, the notion of citizenship is narrow: the exercise of citizenship is aimed at preserving the world as it is. The only room for change is the one assigned to the aspiring citizen 80  (i.e. the migrant), who needs to acquire a set of skills to make up for what they are lacking to perform in the economy.  Interestingly, this idea of citizenship appears to be much more static than the one previously discussed, as it stems from a normative expectation of ideal citizenship. In this case, the notion of citizenship seems to be positioned close to the notion of culture, and more specifically, to the qualities that make up an ideal Colombian citizen. As noted by André Mazawi, studying the entanglement between notion and culture is key to understanding a program like Migración Productiva.107 The burden of change and how it is distributed is a question that needs to be answered taking into consideration how culture and citizenship are intertwined. It appears that if culture is not seen as antagonist to citizenship, as is the case of Venezuela Aporta, the burden falls on everyone: both migrant and local have something to learn. On the contrary, if culture is seen as entangled with citizenship, as is the case of Migración Productiva, only the newcomer is responsible for abiding by the already-established ideal of citizen. Consequently, this positioning mandates radically different programs of adult education, which is what we see in each example. A grassroots art movement shows how adult education can be a platform for full citizenship, one that is not reduced to the neoliberal market forces, as is the case by the government-led initiative. What this suggests is that the assumptions around the human person allow adult educators to either expand or contract the notion of citizenship. However, the specific ways in which these two concepts are related requires further consideration, which is what will occupy me in the final section of this essay.                                                   107 André Elias Mazawi (Class Lecture, EDST 535 – Seminar on Comparative and International Adult Education, 05/22/2019, University of British Columbia).    81  4.6 The Hellenistic notion of citizen as person Thus far I have considered the concept of personhood and the concept of citizenship independently, only referring to their relationship with education as the means to enact their competing notions in two programs involving Venezuelan migrants. The different perspectives of these two initiatives are evidence of what Seyla Benhabib identified as the complex challenge of cultivating a democratic citizenry, which is achieving a balance between “preparing people to appear in the world” and “helping people learn to let others appear.”108 The programs I have analyzed here appear to be in opposite sides of this spectrum, as their competing notions of personhood and citizenship show. This raises the question of the particular relationship between these two concepts. It is evident that ideas about citizenship are underpinned by ideas about personhood. But why is it that the notion of personhood, which seems to be related to something sacred, unique, and personal has implications to the notion of citizenship, which seems to be related to something public, common, and plural?  In Ancient Greece, for example, there was practically no difference between citizenship and personhood. Only those who went to the Agora to take part in public issues possessed personhood. In this sense, slaves were not considered persons. Of course, we would not say that today. However, ancient Greeks do appear to have a point in their recognition of a human person’s public character. It is my contention that taking part in the public realm as citizens is a constitutive part of our being-in-the world as persons. For this, I would like to propose the idea of citizen as person. This simply means acknowledging that the conditions of possibility of our                                                 108 Seyla Benhabib, “L’Affaire Du Foulard (The Scarf Affair),” in Why Do We Educate? Renewing the Conversation (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2008), 100–111.  82  existence as persons are only met in relation to others. For Arendt, for example, this idea is at the core of her notion of action, which as noted by Biesta, is not possible in isolation.109 Action, as the freedom to begin something anew in the world is the way in which our “distinct uniqueness” is revealed, but this does not happen without others: our uniqueness is never possible without plurality.110 On my reading, this reveals the dual character of our personhood, which is simultaneously private and public.  In the context of a democratic society, the idea of citizenship appears to provide the conditions for the enactment and materialization of the public character of our personhood. The rules of a democratic nation are arrangements made by human beings to live together. However, we do not come bare-handed as public persons to act as citizens. Precisely, persons appear in the public sphere as citizens bringing their unique subjectivities and singularities to further begin something anew in concert with others. This is why it seems that any notion of citizenship that does not have a participatory base is always going to be disconnected from the possibility of appearing to others in full authenticity. I believe this is the significance of the notion of citizen as person: the recognition of both the uniqueness and plurality of our existence as humans in the world.  Somebody might react to the idea of citizen as person by saying that if it were true that we can only truly exist in relation, we would not have so many conflicts among us and it would be more natural to bear with strangers, accommodate differences and solve the challenges of massive migration. This objection forces me to explain the educational dimension of the notion                                                 109 Biesta, “How to Exist Politically and Learn from It: Hannah Arendt and the Problem of Democratic Education.”  110 Arendt, The Human Condition.  83  of citizen as person. Earlier in this essay I mentioned that the question of personhood appears to be more primordial than the question of citizenship. What I meant is that personhood seems to be related with things that are given by virtue of being born as a human being into this world. Citizenship, on the other hand, is an artificial construct, as is the case with democracy: these are arrangements made by human beings to live together. Our public nature (that is, our possibility of existing as human persons only in relation to others) is enacted in a democracy through participatory citizenship. However, the naturalness of this does not mean that there is nothing that we need to learn. In fact, being in the world both as citizens and as persons entails the need of a disposition to learn to live together. Precisely, the twofold character of the notion of citizen as person, through which our uniqueness can only exist in plurality, implies accepting that the fact of difference remains incommensurate. It presents itself in the appearance of others and continues to exist simultaneously with the fact that we need to act in concert with those others. In this sense, the disposition to learn to live together is a central element of what it means to be a citizen in a democracy.  Finally, in a context of increasing diversity and migratory flows, if adult education in a democratic society has any hope of contributing to alleviate the injustices of aporophobia, through which we are led to think that there are some who do not have anything to contribute and thus need to be amended, it seems that the notion of citizen as person could allow us to acquire what Cortina calls la mirada lúcida (the lucid gaze). A lucid gaze, which is compassionate in nature, pushes us away from any attempt to objectify a human person and actually see that there is nobody that does not have something to offer to our common world.111                                                   111 Cortina, Aporofobia, El Rechazo Al Pobre: Un Desafío Para La Democracia. 84  Chapter 5: The parts and the whole  5.1 The origin of the parts  From time to time, scholarly work produces lucid and eloquent answers to the problems of the world. However, it is more often the case that the results of this type of work are making the familiar a little bit strange, and by doing so repositioning its audience to think about the same problems from a slightly different perspective. This teaches two things. First, that asking questions is every bit as important as attempting to produce an answer, and secondly, that good scholarly work is supposed to promote dialogue and conversation. The way I have come to understand it, being a scholar is essentially the act of occupying a place in the banquet of Academia while entering into a conversation with friends, or if not friends, at least with people who have given some thought to the same things as one has. During the last year, I have thought through the question of the human condition in reference to education, I have come to understand as another way of asking the question of the being and becoming of human beings. This collection of essays represents my early attempt to contribute to this age-old, yet never-ending conversation. Evidently, the question of being and becoming human beings is a task for a lifetime. It also a task shared with many scholars who have written about this before as well as with others who will certainly come after.  The unceasing nature of this conversation calls me now to retrace some of my steps and reassess my contribution to this conversation. I will first reflect on the main points of each essay while commenting on the context and reasons that led me to explore the particular concepts that I used. In the next section, I will address my thesis as a whole, identifying the themes that are consistent throughout my work, and accounting for my choice of style and method. In the third 85  and final section, I will reflect on some questions that remain and think about the meaning of a never-ending journey.  The concept of Bildung was first introduced to me in a class on Educational Theories by my teacher Sam Rocha. I was fascinated by the idea that there may be a dimension of education that could be an end in and of itself. Until then, I had only thought of education as a means to achieve something else like social justice, environmental sustainability, or some other challenge of our world. However, the idea of Bildung turned the question of means and ends of education around. For example, what if we could secure justice or equality first and then dedicate ourselves to education, to becoming? Would this be desirable? I set myself to think about this dimension of education, and quickly learned that there are few simple ways to account for Bildung. I realized that it is not even clear how we can approach this notion today, as our world faces immediate challenges such as violence, hunger, poverty, discrimination, etc. I wondered if we could afford to draw back from all this and focus on the formation of the self and the self only? A closer look at this concept taught me that Bildung has little to do with the individual in isolation. In my first essay, I suggested that understanding the full scope of Bildung requires a dynamic approach that takes into consideration how its spirit has been transformed through time and within the history of ideas. I further reflected on this concept in light of its relationship with fundamental equality and freedom. This led me to conclude that the possibility of education in the form of Bildung is a fundamental part of what makes us human. In other words, the mark of our equality, which is derived from the sacredness that dwells within each person, is what allows the unceasing process of becoming somebody. I noted, however, that the process of becoming somebody cannot take place in isolation, and therefore that there is a very particular type of freedom that follows from human’s ontological condition of sacredness. The emergence of subjectivity through the 86  educational process encompasses an ethical dimension that calls on the person to respond to its humanity by recognizing in the existence of others their inherent sacredness. In other words, becoming oneself does not happen in isolation. This point reveals what I called the simultaneous inwardness and outwardness of Bildung, which forces one to ask the question of “who I am” again and again, as one enters into dialogue with the world.  In a way, my second essay is part of my answer to that question. My study journey, which has been a way of entering into dialogue with the world, happened while being in the process of settling as a guest in a new country. Coming to terms with my new identity as an immigrant has made me think about my ancestors and the place where I come from like I never did before. Upon arrival, when I was asked to fill out a form indicating my ethnicity and cultural heritage, I sat in front of my screen in horror. Hispanic? Yes, that sounds about right. But in all honesty, I had not thought deliberately about this before. I was aware that I am not white, but I was also raised in a home filled with privileges that more often than not are enjoyed disproportionately by white people. After I became an anthropologist, I started to understand what this means, and became more aware and attuned with the struggles of colonialism and injustice. However, it was only recently that I wholeheartedly embraced the complexities of my own roots, and finally faced the task of asking the questions in reference to myself.  I am a mestiza woman. Strictly speaking, this means that my ancestors are a mix of Indigenous peoples and European settlers. I am not aware of an equivalent concept in the Anglophone culture, and I suspect that mestizaje is a very particular notion related to the history of Spanish colonization in Latin America. Mestizaje is not only a political concept that has historically served nation-building purposes across Latin America, but also a “lived process that 87  operates within the embodied person and within networks of family and kinship relationships.”112 For example, although identifying as mestiza means that my ancestors are both Indigenous and Spanish, it can also mean that I do not have any identified ethnic belonging. Historically, mestizaje was simultaneously a way of disassociating from the indigenous, the European, and the criollo (those born in America from white European parents). The reason I am emphasizing this too brief account of the concept of mestizaje, is simply to point out that it needs to be understood in relation to the historical context of Spanish colonization in America. What is clear, at least from my experience of being a mestiza, is that the simultaneous homogenizing and disassociating nature of mestizaje results in an ambiguous place of in-between. It is from there that I try to make sense of my ancestry, a task further complicated by other intersecting identities such as class and race which also play a role in Latin America’s shared history of post-colonialism.  From this complex place of in-between, as I tried to find means to make sense of the reality as experienced by Latin Americans, I found the voice of García Márquez in his Nobel lecture speaking to my heart. How to render our lives believable? I remember sitting at a UBC library reading a newspaper article about a police raid in a marginalized neighborhood in Bogotá. They were reporting the policemen’s findings, among which there was a lion that lived in an apartment building alongside humans and pets. I remember the disbelief, and then the familiar feeling of accepting our unbridled reality, which oftentimes comes paired up with the feeling of lacking means to express its full extent. Although thanks to the new Netflix show Tiger King cohabitating with a lion seems somehow more plausible, the lion in Bogotá was not considered some kind of eccentricity of a mentally unstable person. Simply, it was part of the ordinariness of                                                 112 Peter Wade, “Rethinking Mestizaje: Ideology and Lived Experience,” Journal of Latin American Studies 37, no. 2 (2005): 239. 88  daily life. This made me wonder how I could make sense of this place where I come from, where the extraordinary seems to be part of the ordinary? Did we invent this place? Is the extraordinary something I made up in my mind? Or is it perhaps that I need to turn to the extraordinary to understand my existence in this world? I dwelled in these questions as I wrote my essay on magical realism. I considered how this literary genre presents elements of magic as a constitutive part of what is real, which suggests that reality is something inherently dynamic and mysterious. I thought through the universality of the character of reality by asking about its independence from the mind, and although I appraised some elements of the claim of dependency, I took note of the downsides of over determining the role of the subject. This led me to entertain the thought that perhaps the way in which objective reality manifests itself to the human person requires some degree of insideness to make sense of it. To illustrate this, I offered a reading of a passage of One Hundred Years of Solitude that showed that a turn to the extraordinary as a means to represent the experience of an event results in a renewed matter-of-factness that expands our attitude towards reality, as well as our possibility to grasp it. Ultimately, this raised an educational question around the particular attitude towards reality that education fosters, and how allowing for a privileged revelation of its character opens the door to inventing the world anew.  As I wrote about magical realism, I had the chance to dive back into re-reading magical realism books, which is something I deeply enjoy. However, as it happened with the article on the lion in Bogotá, it is often the case that the line between magical realism and journalism is blurred in Colombia. Again and again one comes across newspaper articles that seem to originate from the most imaginative mind, but are in fact nothing but our shared reality. Claudia Palacios’ article telling Venezuelans to “stop giving birth” was published in Colombia in the summer of 89  2019 while I was in the early stages of writing my research proposal. I followed closely the ensuing controversy sparked by the article and found myself deeply saddened by the reactions I saw from friends and family in social media and conversations. I was struck that not many of them rejected her views and that even fewer people seemed to be bothered by her openly discriminatory language. Being far away from my country in the idyllic land of the Musqueam peoples now called Vancouver, I became aware of the immense privilege of being able to take time to reflect without the constraints imposed by the struggles of endemic social injustices that are faced by Colombians every day. And yet, I felt angry and disappointed at the reactions I was seeing towards Palacios’ article. A few days later I learned about the program launched by the government in the following weeks, which suggested that Venezuelans needed to be provided with corporate skills to become productive and contribute to the economy. I set out to write my essay in an attempt to organize my thoughts around what was happening back home. My heart was lifted when I found out about other initiatives and programs with a radically different approach to immigration. These programs showed other dimensions of what it meant for Venezuelans having had to leave their home and resettle in a new country that did not seem to want to welcome them. I considered how appearing before others in the public sphere is fundamentally a performative act that contributes to establishing who we are. I compared the response led by the Colombian government with a grassroots initiative. This led me to reflect on how their radically different approaches to the concepts of personhood and citizenship raised questions about how we can think of adult education in today’s world, and more importantly, what purposes it serves in the context of a democratic society.  Together, these three essays are experiments in thought that are speculative and exploratory in nature. A thesis, however, is not a thought experiment, or at least being one is not 90  its sole purpose. A thesis has a terminal place in the progression of the course of study in a program, is intended to show the student’s ability to engage in scholarly work, and should attend to a consistent overall style and method. This is not to say that thought experiments are not rigorous scholarly work, but rather that the type of thesis I chose to write calls me now to reflect on how these parts and its form constitute the whole of my MA thesis. Thinking in retrospect, the essayistic approach provided a generous set of vantage points to explore my main concern, which afforded, I believe, a good view of the complexities embedded in the question of the human condition as it refers to education, as well as its scope. Moreover, the essayistic form offered me as a writer some space to stop, reground, and begin anew after each piece. Hopefully, this was also the case for my reader.  Nevertheless, this particular way of working through a problem also had some limitations. The most apparent one, for example, is that although this thesis deals with philosophical anthropology and education, this collection of essays does not amount to a systematic and conclusive theory of the human condition or of education. This does not seem to be in close view, and in all honesty, I am also not entirely convinced that it will ever be. The humanities-based approach that I chose as a method shows that there is always an unprecedented dimension of what it means to be human that is yet to be explored. Perhaps if I had adopted the perspective of quantification or the approach of the social sciences I would have a more univocal answer to my questions, but for now, I am comfortable dwelling in the uncertainty that emerged from the complexities that human existence proved to entail. Despite the above, as I retrace my steps, I see a few hints in the form of some common themes emerging through repetition. It is important to consider these in the next section, as they may reveal some further insight into my main concern.  91   5.2 The whole: movement, human person, and togetherness Have you encountered a text for the second or third time and found yourself having a very different feeling than the first time you read it? Or maybe have you talked to a friend about a book and found out that this person read it in a completely different way? It has happened to me many times. This is, I believe, part of the generosity of scholarly work: it presents readers with the freedom to find many worlds and interpretations in the same text. In this section, I will suggest three themes that I believe hover over my work as a whole: movement, the human person, and togetherness. However, my reader may not see these same repetitions, and this is fine. Hopefully, however, they find other themes and ideas that bring my work together. Maybe this does not happen either, and this would be fair too. After all, this is one of the risks of writing a collection of essays. What is indispensable in any case is the conversation that my ideas may elicit, even if that conversation is about how the parts only make sense as parts. My thoughts on the themes of movement, the human person, and togetherness are only included here as the initial reading of my work as a whole.  I introduced this thesis by saying that all my essays share a common engagement with philosophical anthropology and education, suggesting that these come together in the questions “who am I”, which can be a question of philosophical anthropology, and “how did I become who I am”, which can be a question of education. This last question (the question of becoming) carries a sense of continuous unfolding and progression that prevents it from having a fixed, static answer. Perhaps this is the reason why the question of what is education seems so elusive: it renews itself every time it is asked, because we never cease to become, we never cease to learn and to be thus further educated. In this sense, the idea of movement seems to be consistently 92  present throughout my analysis. The notion of Bildung captures this very explicitly, but continuous movement is also behind the claim that reality is a dynamic entity constantly in need of the subject’s vital experiences to be accounted for. Similarly, when I discussed the idea of participatory citizenship, I suggested that this approach widened the space for the process in which knowledge is constructed through interaction, and in this sense, participatory citizenship remained ambivalent in terms of its ends. In other words, it also resists a fixed, static account. Ultimately, what is interesting about the theme of movement is that it raises the question of the impossibility of determining the “being” and “becoming” of the human person separately, which is an issue that requires further thought.  On the other hand, my take on the question of being and becoming in this thesis took the human person as the starting point of my analysis. In other words, “who am I” (the question of being) catapulted the question of becoming, which I addressed as an educational question. However, what I see now that I look back, is that the human person also turned out to be the endpoint of my reflections. What I mean by this is that I seemed to always return to find my universal answers in the utmost particularity of the human being. This is most evident in my argument on magical realism and the salience of experience in making sense of an “outsized” phenomenon, but I also see it very clearly appear in my thoughts on Bildung. Specifically, when I pointed out the paradoxical nature of the relationship between equality and freedom in the existential dimension of Bildung. Saying that the homogenizing condition of equality derived from the human person’s inherent sacredness is what makes possible the emergence of an unforeseen self, implies that the human person and its uniqueness remain the endpoint of what it means to be educated. Similarly, in my reflections around the differences between the competing responses to the Venezuelan immigration situation, I emphasized an alternative notion of 93  personhood displayed in the program Venezuela Aporta that positioned the human person as an inherently complete whole who already possessed what they needed to contribute to the common world.  Finally, in examining the constant return to the human person as both the beginning and endpoint of my analysis, I further realized that this does not necessarily mean that the human condition as it refers to education has an individualistic nature if by individualistic we mean that the person can exist in isolation. Through my three essays, it became apparent that the ontological condition of relationality is a constitutive part of what it means to be a human being. This, in turn, suggests that the act of becoming through education is perhaps only fully possible in togetherness. For example, in the essay on Bildung, I explored the ethical dimension that seemed to follow from human’s inherent sacredness. Responding to this ethical call is a way of acknowledging that the full potential of our becoming is only attainable with others. This very same idea was carried over to the essay on the Venezuela-Colombia migration case when I discussed the notion of citizen as person and suggested that this way of existing in a democracy entails the need of a disposition to learn to live together, acknowledging that our uniqueness can only genuinely exist in plurality. Finally, my reflections on magical realism as a literary genre can also be read through the lens of the theme of togetherness, albeit less explicitly. We may say that the inherent otherness or strangeness of reality (which requires some degree of insideness or uniqueness of the human person to be discerned) reveals a relational dimension of our experience of the real, through which reality takes on meaning through story and collective construction.  Thus far, I have taken the risk of suggesting three themes that I believe are consistent throughout my work. However, as I mentioned earlier, this is not meant as a straitjacket. Other themes and underlying threads may emerge with time and conversation. Having said this, I only 94  have one final point to make in the following section. The study journey I have taken with this thesis may have elicited some answers to the questions I started with. However, some questions remain. I will address them in the next and final section.   5.3 Returning home At the end of a journey one generally returns home. Home can be a physical place like a house, an apartment, or a city left behind. It can also be a person; a pregnant woman’s womb is the home of her baby for roughly forty weeks. But there seems to be more than materiality to the notion of home. For example, I feel at home if my husband is with me, regardless of where we are. Perhaps it is the case that “home” is more like an imagined territory of familiarity, which makes things at home feel intimate, close, known. This conveys a sense of fixation and stability that bears little resemblance to the experience of being educated. Learning something, which is a way of encountering the unknown (or the once forgotten, in Platonic terms) is often an uncomfortable experience. In the fall of 2019, I attended a class in which Claudia Ruitenberg challenged the idea of education as a safe practice. She explained that good education could be thought of as a fundamentally “unsafe” practice, meaning that education is supposed to dis-place the student by offering them different and unexpected ways to read the world, and inviting them to question it. Remembering the words of her supervisor, Dr. Ruitenberg defined education as the process by which one can never go home again. I think she was right, but I would avoid reading too much nostalgia into it. It seems that the beauty of being educated is precisely that the experience bears testimony of human’s never-ending possibility of transformation. What it also means, I believe, is that there is no such thing as the end of a study journey if by “study” we mean a way of looking at the world and making strange what seems too familiar. However, there 95  are points where a leg of the journey ends, and one is called to take a moment to look back and reassess.  As I do so, perhaps the most apparent issue that emerges is that I have taken up the task of studying education through a broad array of other concepts and issues. My thoughts focused on attending to the ways in which the act of living is in itself educational, and although this approach allowed me to honor the complexity of the questions of philosophical anthropology in education, somebody could say that my approach to education as such is elusive. A study of education through other concepts could indeed give this impression. However, some things can be clarified. First, my concerns around education are primarily existential, which is why I have framed my questions of education around the question of the “who”, meaning that the essence of a human person is not determined by a fixed definition, but rather by what the human person makes of themselves and who they become in the common world. Every other educational concern, such as what, when, why, etc. is derived from this primordial question. With this in mind, I have addressed education as something existential and metaphysical that goes well beyond the institution of modern schools. There are some grounds to be skeptical about this ever-present and all-encompassing idea of education. For example, it could be questioned by saying that it leaves teachers, parents, students and people who trying to figure out how to live a good life with few practical resources to enact this idea of constant becoming. Although this may be true, I would like to think that the practical possibility of taking up human existence in the common world as object of thought and analysis is both the beginning and the end of the task of education.   96  Bibliography  Abramović, Marina. The Cleaner: Marina Abramović. English. Vol. 394. Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2017. 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