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Book Sections Year : 2010

The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Knowledge and Authority


Few endeavours could appear more self- contradictory (and selfdefeating) than an attempt to explain the argument developed by Jacques Rancière in his 1987 book The Ignorant Schoolmaster (subtitled Five Lessons on Intellectual Emancipation, English translation 1991). The main assertion repeated in this remarkably subtle praise of equality is that the most perverse form of oppression and subjection is located in the very act of explaining. Most of us tend to take for granted that giving explanations - and what is teaching but "giving explanations"? - is a noble act of generosity and emancipation through which the explainer raises the explainee to a higher level of knowledge and understanding. I have spent a good amount of time reading, analyzing, discussing and teaching The Ignorant Schoolmaster over the last decades; I am eager to help more people discover and enjoy its power and its beauty. I hear people say that Rancière is not an easy philosopher to understand, and that his theory of emancipation is not an easy argument to grasp; therefore I am about to explain the main notions, assumptions and consequences of this book, as well as its charms and its stakes. But since the main lesson of the book is that explanation runs contrary to emancipation, I - along with my fellow contributors to a volume dedicated to "explaining" Rancière's key concepts - seem bound to betray the author and his ideas by the very nature of our explanatory gesture.


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hal-00847083 , version 1 (24-07-2013)


  • HAL Id : hal-00847083 , version 1


Yves Citton. The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Knowledge and Authority. Jacques Rancière : Key Concepts, Acumen, pp.25-37, 2010. ⟨hal-00847083⟩
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