Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Steven Corcoran ^^ Education as Action in Excess of the Polis: Philosophy and Atopia

June 14 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

The question “What is the virtue of education?” is critical today. We know “education” as a system, established by our democratic polities, that is required to maintain their “democratic” nature – the polis and education function as two mutually reinforcing terms. The polis establishes an education system at the same time as the polis itself is established through education. This point was already made clear long ago by Plato. Sustaining the “democratic” nature of our societies is said to require an education that promotes thinking individuals able to live a life of power, able to do what they want, to become other than they are, to become autonomous.

But in order to maintain the mutual reinforcement function of the polis/education dyad, while this power must be evoked, as a point of fundamental attraction, it must also be forcefully repressed, cut off from itself. The proof lies in the facts of the system’s functioning: education as we know it, while marketed as a virtue – one you must have! – functions almost exclusively as a machine of elite reproduction and social discipline, with the rest having to endure some form of exclusion, told to consider themselves lucky to get the psychological damage that comes with a bullshit job or a meaningful but radically underpaid one.

The system turns education itself into the fantasy of education, through very real acts of repression. Systemic repression neuters the virtue of education, turning its affect, its power of transformation, into acts entirely consumed by their own performance. For the system abhors an outside: its credo is, as bad as the capitalist system may be, it is the least worst of all systems. We should never aspire to more than what we are: clever monkeys killing each other under the reign of techno-science. “There is no alternative!” “Your idealism will plunge us into the worst.” But the sheer horror of recent atrocities has fewer and fewer people believing this political cant.

I submit that what education as action enables by way of autonomy is also the power to invent with others what that education implies. In a way that is not mere fantastical repetition, but in excess to any given regime of power/knowledge. Our task will thus be, from the standpoint of philosophy, to under the idea that education implies an atopos beyond what any polis could want for itself.


Steven Corcoran is a philosopher, translator and writer, who focuses on questions of political and intellectual emancipation. He is the founder of Parrhesia: School of Philosophy, Berlin e.V., a non-profit organization devoted to a public practice of philosophy. Editor of The Badiou Dictionary, he has further edited/translated over 20 works of philosophy by, among others, Alain Badiou (Conditions, Polemics and The Idea of Communism), Jacques Rancière (Dissensus, Hatred of Democracy, The Edges of Fiction, and What Times Are We Living In?), and Frantz Fanon (Alienation and Freedom). Current projects include a book on egalitarian political organization and imagination, and a special issue on the thought of Jacques Rancière for Continental Thought & Theory.


Portrait of Steven Corcoran by Joulia Strauss


June 14
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Akadimia Platonos Jungle
meeting point at the entrance opposite the Cooperative Café, Monastiriou Str. 140, Kolonos 10442, Metro Larissa M2, Metro Metaxourgeio M2, Bus 051, bus stop Kratilou, or call WhatsApp +491609 6665057 if lost