A Methodology for Comparing Syllabus Topics Across Educational Contexts
Edited By Bryan Cunningham
Chapter Nine: Conclusion – Labour, Consciousness and Agency
…it is this form of philosophy that, from Hegel, through Nietzsche and Max Weber, to the Frankfurt School, has founded a form of reflection in which I have tried to work.
Michel Foucault, Politics Philosophy Culture, 1988, p.95
The relationship between labour and consciousness, class and agency is explored by Hegel in the Phenomenology; and by that most famous and radical of all Left Hegelians, Karl Marx.1 Mind is active, engaging with the task of production. The researcher exercises agency, in the conscious endeavour to contribute to knowledge. Yet the agent – Hegel’s bondsman – is constrained by particular material and social relations, as well as rules set by custom and tradition. As the agent struggles with intellectual and material hurdles, periods of doubt and confusion may frequently take hold. But conscious self-realisation on the part of the researcher may come about as their work takes shape as a result of the subject’s labours. The self-consciousness and identity of the agent is tied to the work they have created.
This book represents the hermeneutic unfolding of a researcher’s self-consciousness as a subject through labour. Indeed, it could even be argued that this development constitutes the book’s crux. Essentially, an evolving consciousness of objects by the researching subject consolidates itself, as manifested through its pages. This movement may be understood expressing the dynamic between active mind and this researcher’s engagement with objects as an agent through time. Interactions with new objects demand conceptualisation. Yet with each new...
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