Difficult education
: aporetic philosophy in Hegel, Rose, Williams and Tubbs

  • Rebekah Howes

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the philosophical and educational projects of Rowan Williams and Nigel Tubbs. It argues that there is a shared Hegelian ground in their work, fundamentally rooted in the reading of Hegel by the philosopher Gillian Rose, which brings them into conversation around the notion that ‘difficulty’ is philosophically, educationally and spiritually significant. To do this, the thesis will explore Rose’s retrieval of Hegelian speculative experience in Hegel Contra Sociology, for it is the pivotal reading upon which Williams and Tubbs evolve their own Hegelianism. It will also examine the central concepts of life and death and master and slave in Hegel as the structure of experience within which difficulty knows itself to be education. In this way, the thesis argues that philosophical experience has education as the very substance of what it is and does.
In Williams, across the landscape of his social, political and religious interventions, negative and speculative experience is thought through with remarkable acuity and insight. The thesis will explore the philosophical underpinnings of these insights as it is developed in a sophisticated theory of
‘negotiation’, ‘self-dispossession’ and’ iconic’ learning. I will also argue that his philosophical thinking is articulated most powerfully in his analysis of the works of Dostoevsky. In Tubbs, Hegelian philosophy underpins a compelling theory of education embodied in the philosophical structure and experience of two degrees at the University of Winchester. I will show how it is also carried in and by the life and truth of the teacher/student relation. Both projects, albeit in different ways, are a philosophy of difficulty brought to bear on many of the problems facing social and political relations.
The thesis as a whole works primarily with the educational theorising of Tubbs, for it is the light by which, I argue, Williams’ work can be better understood.
Date of Award25 Feb 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorNigel Tubbs (Supervisor) & Derek Bunyard (Supervisor)

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