Education & Enlightenment

Thomas Weppler & Mikkel Krag Nebelong

Student thesis: Master thesis


In this thesis, we analyse what happens to enlightenment and education as society becomes more competitive. To do this, we use Lacan’s (2006) theory of psychology in which he classifies the human psyche into three different ontological realms - the Real, the Symbolic and the Imaginary. We use this theory to show how the ability to think and solve more complex problems is possible by increasing a person's vocabulary and knowledge of concepts - and how this type of thinking, the type of thinking that can be learned through education, is Symbolic (Žižek, 2008, 2012). We also use this terminology to expand on the theory of motivation, that is traditionally divided into internal and external motivation (Fuglsang, 2015; Katznelson, 2007). By applying Žižek (2008, 2012) and Lacan (2006) to motivation we also find two types of motivation, desire which is Real motivation and ego, which is Imaginary motivation. We find that ego has become the main motivational factor in education, and that ego is negatively correlated with enlightenment as well as the motivational factor in the personality trait known as conscientiousness (Schmidt & Hunter, 1998). The unfortunate consequence of this is that enlightenment becomes a negative trait when adopting a purely competition-minded perspective. To support our hypothesis of this development we use Plato (the Republic), Drucker (1946) and Pedersen (2011). Lastly, we use Agamben (2007) to argue that education to some extend can be viewed as having become consecrated and through working with a couple extreme perspectives on education (Grey, 2009, 2013) we attempt to profanate education and get a more realistic interpretation of how education is. By developing a deeper understanding about education and enlightenment in contemporary society, we hope to obtain the insight necessary to propose valuable improvements.

EducationsMSc in Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages98
SupervisorsOle Bjerg