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On the Pedagogy of Suffering

Hermeneutic and Buddhist Meditations


David W. Jardine, Christopher Gilham and Graham McCaffrey

This text articulates how and why suffering can be pedagogical in character and how it is often key to authentic and meaningful acts of teaching and learning. This is an ancient idea from the Greek tragedies of Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE) – pathei mathos or «learning through suffering». In our understandable rush to ameliorate suffering at every turn and to consider every instance of it as an error to be avoided at all costs, we explore how the pedagogy that can come from suffering becomes obscured and something vital to a rich and vibrant pedagogy can be lost. This collection threads through education, nursing, psychiatry, ecology, and medicine, through scholarship and intimate breaths, and blends together affinities between hermeneutic conceptions of the cultivation of character and Buddhist meditations on suffering and its locale in our lives. This book will be useful for graduate courses on hermeneutic research in education, educational psychology, counseling, and nursing/medicine.
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Chapter Twenty: “Neither They nor Their Reward”



“Neither They NorTheir Reward”


In his autobiography, The Confessions, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1953) narrated how, after a long absence, he returned home to Mme de Warens (Mamma), for whom once he had been, and expected to become again, her singular love, only to find that M de Courtilles had replaced him in Mme de Warens’ affection. I personally believe that Rousseau’s sense of betrayal rings just a bit false as does the display of his extreme jealousy, since his protestations to Mme Warens affirming his alleged devotion follow soon after his passionate love affair with a Mme Le Lanarge. Indeed, throughout his confessions, Rousseau portrays himself as an avid lover of women, and, despite his protestations and denials, seems rarely at a loss for female companionship. For example, Rousseau told us how Mme de Mably attempted to teach him to do the honours of her house, “but I was such an awkward pupil, so bashful and so stupid, that she lost heart and gave me up. That did not prevent me from following my usual custom, and falling in love with her” (p. 254). Nevertheless, Rousseau bemoaned the loss of the affection of Mme Warens.

At what Rousseau took as Mme Warens’ seeming abandonment of him, he suffered. But, Rousseau admitted, though he suffered, yet from that suffering he found reward. Rousseau (1953) commented, “Thus there began to spring up with my misfortunes those virtues whose seed...

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