I am an associate professor of education, at the Pontifical Catholic University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am currently Director of the Department of Education. I have been Coordenator of the Philosophy of Education working group of the National Association for Research in Education (ANPEd), in Brazil, and I am a founding member and past President of the Brazilian Society of the Philosophy of Education (SOFIE).
My research interests are in the philosophy of education, especially the interface between political thought and education. However, more recently I’ve become interested in cognition and learning theory and have gone to the philosophy of mind for inspiration, as well as work in cognitive science. I am also interested in the political economy of educational policy and the epistemology of the educational sciences and the humanities, as well as some topics in the philosophies of rationality, language, action and the Self.
Recent research projects have focused on: the work of Jürgen Habermas and the idea of socio-historically constituted learning processes; education for citizenship and the limits of liberalism; a survey of theories of embodied, enactive, embedded and extended cognition.
My current project is an attempt to develop an aesthetics of understanding and its implications for educational theory and practice, especially a theory of human learning. I start from embodied theories of mind and the assumption that the human mind is a combination of brain, body (in movement) and environment (physical and social). We need to go beyond the dichotomy between so-called cognitivist and historical-cultural theories of mind and learning. In particular, we need to revive the concept of Aisthētikós, which, in ancient Greek, closely related the senses and the emotions to perception and cognition. This focus can be seen in the work of pragmatist philosophers as well as phenomenology, together with cognitive scientists and philosophers in the analytic tradition who work at the interface between philosophy and this new interdisciplinary area of study. My particular interest is in delineating the aesthetic dimension of human understanding and experience and its implications for overcoming the distorted view of understanding that still underlies much educational theorizing on learning. This involves giving adequate weight and importance to the bodily basis of meaning, together with the influence of language and culture on perception, conceptualization and reasoning. I believe that this emphasis can lead us to a renewed understanding of educational experience and the learning process.
In social and political thought I adopt a broadly Marxist perspective on economics, social organisation, political systems and ecological issues. I was a left-wing liberal for most of my life but came to realise that this is woefully insufficient for understanding the world we live in. Better late than never! I believe firmly that if humanity does not transform the underlying economic and social structures of the capital system, this might well be our last century on this planet.
I teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the philosophy of education, as well as supervise theses and dissertations in this field.
I have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy (first class honours) from the University of Stirling, Scotland (with an exchange year at the University of California, at Berkeley), and a Master’s degree and a Doctorate in Social and Political Thought, from the University of Sussex, England.
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