Teaching for Love of the World: Hannah Arendt on the Complexities of the Educational Praxis

Authors drs. Anouk Zuurmond
Published in Complexity in Education. From Horror to Passion
Publication date 2016
Research groups Normative Professionalisation
Type Book


In this article, I present a philosophical perspective on Kunneman’s concept of ‘amor complexitatis’ based on the philosophical work of Hannah Arendt. I analyse the two constituting elements, ‘amor’ and ‘complexitas’. In opposition to most classic philosophers who engage with the vita contemplativa, the eternal decontextualized aspects of life, Arendt was concerned with the vita activa, a philosophy of the world. She distinguishes three human activities: labour, which corresponds to the biological functions of the body; work which creates enduring artefacts in the world and is a predictable, instrumental activity; and action which is political in nature and is the result of humans dealing with the inherent plurality of the world. It is the realm of difference where people engage in discussion, interaction, and narratives to generate ideas, etc. The outcome of human action is unpredictable and therefore always holds the potential for something new to emerge, which Arendt calls ‘natality’, a central concept in her philosophy. Plurality is the precondition for political life. Removal or denial of difference and plurality is catastrophic for the vita activa and the realm of the political. Arendt and Kunneman are both part of a philosophical tradition which critiques modernity’s instrumentalization of human action. Both engage with the concept of love to deal with the complexities of human action without abolishing these complexities. Drawing on the work of Biesta, I then critically discuss Arendt’s perspective on education. Arendt proclaims an education for the world and it is the role of the teacher to engage the child into this world with all its complexities. The analysis of the concept of complexitas in education reveals three dimensions, each related to a particular key concept of Arendt’s philosophy: plurality, action and natality. I end this contribution with a discussion of the practical implications of Arendt’s views for teaching in the light of normative professionalism.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Complexity in Education. From Horror to Passion
Page range 55-74

Anouk Zuurmond

Anouk Zuurmond | Researcher | Normative Professionalisation

Anouk Zuurmond

  • Researcher
  • Research group: Normative Professionalisation