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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 6. Martin Buber’s Metaphor of ‘Starting from Above’ and the Issue of Educational Authority


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Martin Buber was a trailblazer in philosophical anthropology, the study of the human being, in that he brought to light a new realm, which until then had been largely ignored by philosophers—the realm of between person and person. He stressed that something essential can happen between two persons that is fundamental to each of the individuals as such and greatly significant for the collective world that binds them. This something, which will be described in detail below, Buber called dialogue or the I-You relationship. Dialogue emerges when one whole person encounters another whole person, an encounter in which each individual gives his or her whole being to the other and does not hold anything back. As Buber eloquently wrote:

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