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Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education

Learning from Myths and Metaphors

Mordechai Gordon

Myths and metaphors share not only an ability to call our attention to aspects of our world of which we were previously unaware, but also a propensity toward symbolic meanings and interpretations. In Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education: Learning from Myths and Metaphors, Professor Gordon draws on some well-known myths and metaphors of various Existentialist thinkers and writers as a lens and an interpretative framework with which to explore a variety of issues in philosophy of education. His book argues that symbolic or metaphorical interpretations can offer us representations of problems in education that go beyond what we can gain when we consider them only in their literal sense. Existential Philosophy and the Promise of Education is an excellent classroom text for a variety of foundations courses, including the Philosophy of Education.
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Chapter 3. Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and the Challenge of Relating to Strangers


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Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is the story of Gregor Samsa, the traveling salesman who wakes up one morning from a disturbing dream and finds himself transformed into a gigantic insect. The cause of Samsa’s transformation is never revealed in this story, and Kafka himself never gave an explanation. Kafka’s novella depicts Gregor’s attempts to adjust to his new condition as he deals with being burdensome to his parents and his sister Grete, who are repulsed by the horrible, verminous creature Gregor has become. Written in 1912, The Metamorphosis is divided into three parts, which generally correspond to the changes in how the insect Gregor is treated by his family.

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