The theory of cosmopolitanism is built on a paradoxical commitment to a universal idea of humanity and to a respect for human pluralism. Toward an Imperfect Education critiques the assumed "goodness" of humans that underwrites the idea of humanity and explores how antagonistic human interactions such as conflict, violence, and suffering are a fundamental aspect of life in a pluralistic world. This book proposes that the inescapable difference between humans compels our ethical and political observations in education. Todd persuasively argues that facing humanity in all its complexity and imperfection ought to be a central element of the cosmopolitan project to create a more just and humane education. Informed primarily by poststructural philosophy and feminist theory, she focuses on how sexual, cultural, and religious difference intersect with universal claims made in the name of humanity. Individual chapters develop a novel framework for dealing with antagonism in relation to human rights, democracy, citizenship, and cross-cultural understanding.
“This book is thrilling! Toward an Imperfect Education is the best treatment I have seen in philosophy of education today that takes up key conceptions amid the ethos of our time. For Todd, central is modernity and its cosmopolitan character underpinned by inadequate notions of humanity and diversity; what emerges is a new view of education for a just pluralism. What I most appreciate is the call to face ourselves and our social and educational world in my term ‘flawed as we surely are.’ Todd is surely exemplary among today’s best philosophers of education who draw from across philosophy, social theory, and primarily the continental traditions and their contemporary derivations. In her own response to Kant no less, no one better synthesizes and then offers new insights from a collectivity of theorists such as Arendt, Benhabib, Butler, Derrida, Irigaray, Kristeva, Mouffe, and Levinas. An engaging and thought provoking read throughout.”
--Lynda Stone, UNC
"In this thoughtful book Sharon Todd argues that a commitment to justice, democracy and human rights does not need to be based upon universal values or a universal idea about what it means to be human. She outlines the contours of a cosmopolitan outlook for education that is firmly committed to the plurality of our imperfect human existence."
—Gert Biesta, Professor of Education and Director of Postgraduate Research The Stirling Institute of Education Editor-in-chief Studies in Philosophy and Education