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Alice Lesnick's picture

thanks and on

Dear Anne and Colleagues,

First, thank you, Anne, for providing this thorough representation of the session. It's great to have a record of it and it was great to participate in the discussion -- thanks to Anne and David for this.

I thought I'd add another voice to the mix. Sharon Todd, a philosopher of education, "explores what otherness as an absolute and unknowable difference has to offer an ethical orientation to social justice education" (p. 2) in _Learning from the Other: Levinas, Psychoanalysis, and Ethical Possibilities in Education_ (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2003). Todd questions the value of learning about others, of founding ethical practice in knowledge, and instead argues that the process of learning from others is better taken as the site of ethical practice, what she calls nonviolence -- a practice not premised on understanding but instead on being open, susceptible, vulnerable to the radical, absolute, given alterity (from Levinas) of others. She writes, "What I am suggesting is that social justice education might consider ways of dealing with the concept of difference outside terms of oppression in order to respond ethically to lived experiences of oppression" (p. 3). Todd explains that psychoanalysis teaches us to respect the unconscious as "unassimilable to conscious thought" (p. 15) -- rather like other people are unassimilable to whatever we can say or "know" about them. But this doesn't mean we don't try to come into relationship; rather, it means we do so in order to be doing so, not in order to get somewhere outside of this. And so we are back to the flocks and pyramids!

Alice

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