General theory of pedagogics - an impossible but necessary project?

Year: 2001

Author: Uljens, Michael

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Since the beginning of the 1990's general theory education has been under discussion both in the Nordic countries and very much so in Germany. The vivid discussion may be seen as both related to fast expansion of the discipline and in relation to the postmodern criticism concerning the possibility of general theories. The paper argues that we are still forced to develop general conceptual systems with the ambition of being fundamental because of the constitutive and functional value these theories have. Another conclusion is that educational theory must proceed from the question of the individuals becoming a cultural subject, and not so much from the anthropological question of what a subject is. In order to move "beyond postmodernism" there is reason to in greater detail analyze what meaning concepts like the classical German notions of "Bildsamkeit", and "Aufforderung zur Selbstt E4tigkeit" have today. The view developed in this paper allows for the possibility of fundamental, but not universal, theories. Self-ironical fundamentalism avoiding both relativism and dogmatism are seen as paths leading us further. Universal theories are thus impossible. They are not even necessary, but fundamental theories are both possible and also necessary, not logically but pragmatically. In presenting such fundamental theories we do not have to pretend to write the ultimate reality but our experience of it.