Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The notion of the self in Western literature has overwhelmingly focused on separation and individuality, and has conflated knowing with being. This work proposes to retell the story of the modern Western individual through the themes of birth, time, and silence (as they represent the lifecycle), in an effort to locate the self as one who is called forth by the other, as discussed in the works of Emmanuel Levinas. By re-theorizing the moments of birth, time, and silence as moments of living for the other, rather than as moments in which selves become more autonomous, the self can be understood as an ever-changing entity whose primary responsibility is to respond to the other. Each theme is discussed in its historical context and contemporary function in education, and is subsequently analyzed as a moment of living for the other. Birth is discussed through the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, and the author argues that the metaphor of giving birth to the other and letting students give birth is appropriate for teaching. Time is addressed through the works of Henri Bergson and Michel Serres. In this chapter, time is likened to poetry, and the notion of modern time is criticized for its insistence on linearity, for which Bergson and Serres offer alternate possibilities. The work returns to Serres to discuss the possibility of experiencing silence as an opportunity for meeting the other, rather than signaling an end. Through this approach, knowledge is removed as the foundation of the self, and meaning, as created with the other through an ethical relation, is posited as an alternative to knowledge. Ultimately, the retelling of the story of life through birth, time, and silence offers new ways to imagine existing ethically in the world. The conclusion asks the reader to reconsider creativity and peace in terms of rethinking the self through the other.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Egea-Kuehne, Denise



Included in

Education Commons