Reflectivity, reflection, and counter-education

Ilan Gur-Ze'ev, Jan Masschelein, Nigel Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article sets forward a new concept of reflection, to be contrasted with more usual reading of the concept for which we use the term 'reflectivity'. The contrast is related to a distinction between normalizing education and counter-education. We claim that within the framework of normalizing education there is no room for reflection, but only for reflectivity. In contrast to reflectivity, reflection manifests a struggle of the subject against the effects of power which govern the constitution of her conceptual apparatus, her knowledge, her consciousness and her limitations and possibilities for successful functioning. Reflectivity re-presents the hegemonic realm of self-evidence and the productive violence of social and cultural order. Reflection, by contrast, aims to challenge the supposedly self-evident and the present order of things. Reflection aims at transcendence and represents a moral commitment in respect of the otherness of the Other, which power relations in every realm of self-evidence oblige us to neglect, to destroy or consume. Transcendence is a concrete utopia, and so is the subject in her nonrepressive communication with the Other: they are part and parcel of our present possibilities, sometimes in microscopic arenas, struggled for, and from time to time even realized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in Philosophy and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Counter-education
  • Dialogue
  • Justice
  • Normalizing education
  • Reflection
  • Reflectivity
  • Subject
  • The other
  • Transcendence
  • Utopia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Philosophy


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