Month: December 2016

Eugen Fink – The questionability of the modern educator


(Eugen Fink and Edmund Husserl, image by courtesy of the Philosophical Seminar of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz)

Excerpt from: Eugen Fink – The questionability of the modern educator (Die Fragwürdigkeit des modernen Erziehers), in: Die deutsche Schule, Berlin/Hannover/Darmstadt, issue 4 1959, S. 149-162.

In the fundamental event of “education”, the human existence gains advice and support, form and constitution. The human being is a priori without orientation and insecure, formless and undefined. Only the imperfect living being is able and forced to bring itself in form and constitution. Education is necessary to overcome our existential plight. Only someone who finds himself in this existential plight can educate and can be educated. […] The human being lives in a mode of understanding care of the self: he puts himself into a practical relation to his own existence [Dasein] and to the Being [Sein] of all beings [Seiendes]. Yet, such self-relation is not a consequence of the “consciousness”, it is not a conscious reflexivity, but rather a more primordial and tense structure of existence. The human being is “his own task”, he must become what he is, must look for and fulfil the essence of his being. This is not a mechanical necessity, it is an existential need. The imperfection of our life does not only exist objectively, it is above all a felt, experienced and sustained incompletion. […]

This calls western anthropology into question, which is defined by metaphysics and describes the human being as a creature between animal and god. We are the imperfect beings [Seiendes] in a universe that is otherwise filled with perfect things and creatures; we are a cosmic exception and an ontological paradox. The self-care of the human being does not mean, like one might assume, a self-relationality of the single individual only to himself. The distinction of “I” and “You” itself already presumes the self-relation of existence [Dasein]. It is a fault of the common pedagogical theories to start naively from the relation between educator and student. Where does this reference come from? Where does the interest of the educator in his pupil come from? Are Me and You, We and the others given facts of the social world? Is it enough to point these facts out, or is a fundamental contemplation [Besinnung] necessary that experiences and discusses the pedagogical meaning of the social references as a problem in the first place?

The Philosophical Seminar of the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz wrote an interesting piece on Eugen Finks biography, you can find it here (only in German language).

On the main page of the Ophen Blog you can also find an extensive bibliography of Eugen Finks works: Eugen Fink on

Call for Papers: 4th Symposium on Phenomenological Educational Science at Humboldt-University Berlin

From September 18-20, 2017 we organize the 4th Symposium on Phenomenological Educational Science at Humboldt University-Berlin. It takes place in the festival room of the Humboldt-University (Festsaal der Humboldt-Universität, Luisenstraße 56, 10115 Berlin). The symposiums theme is “Lived body – Corporeality – Embodiment
Pedagogical Perspectives of a Phenomenology of the Lived body”. For further information see the website of the department for General Education Studies of the HU Berlin and find the CfP text as pdf here.

Phenomenological Research in Education

Phenomenological Research in Education as a sub-discipline that is rich in tradition can look back on an almost centennial history. In this time, Phenomenological Research in Education established itself as a meanwhile further refined part of Educational Studies. Phenomenological approaches and orientations can now for example be found in Theory and Philosophy of Education, School Research / Curriculum Studies, Social Pedagogy, Rehabilitation Pedagogy, in Childhood Research, in Aesthetic- and Cultural Education, Adult Education, in several forms of Teaching Methodologies and Didactics and in other (sub-) disciplines of Educational Studies. Phenomenological Research in Education has achieved international and worldwide acclaim.

From the beginning, the core themes of Husserl’s phenomenology – intentionality, time, lived body, world, the other – are being associated with and applied to the theories and approaches of Educational Studies. Over the time, Phenomenological Research in Education developed an own access to ‘Bildung’, learning and education as lived experiences. Phenomenology as philosophy that focuses on experience tries to capture experience in its temporal, corporal, sensual and mundane dimension. The phenomenological understanding of experience is being expanded to include the dimensions of generationality and natality, corporeality and embodiment as well as sociality and alterity (foreignness).

By implementing these various perspectives, the processes in pedagogical experiences can be described and made analytically comprehensible. Also, the methodology and the operations that Phenomenological Research in Education uses – description, reduction and variation – are genuinely phenomenological.

With the refined analysis of pedagogical experiences and with its critical methodological application, Phenomenological Research in Education has developed an independent theoretical and methodological profile, that distinguishes it from other approaches.

This article is composed of the following publications:

Brinkmann, Malte. 2011. Pädagogische Erfahrung – phänomenologische und ethnographische Perspektiven. In Orte des Empirischen in der Bildungstheorie. Einsätze theoretischer Erziehungswissenschaft II, hrsg. Ines Maria Breinbauer und Gabriele Weiß, 61–80. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann.

Brinkmann, Malte. 2015. Pädagogische Empirie. Phänomenologische und methodologische Bemerkungen zum Verhältnis von Theorie, Empirie und Praxis. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik 61 (4): 527–545.

Brinkmann, Malte. 2017. Phänomenologische Erziehungswissenschaft. Ein systematischer Überblick von ihren Anfängen bis heute. In Pädagogik – Phänomenologie. Verhältnisbestimmungen und Herausforderungen, hrsg. Malte Brinkmann, Marc Fabian Buck, und Severin Sales Rödel, 17–46. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.