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Open SecretsLiterature, Education, and Authority from J-J. Rousseau to J. M. Coetzee$
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Michael Bell

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199208098

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199208098.001.0001

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Introduction: the Pedagogical Circle and the ‘Open Secret’

Introduction: the Pedagogical Circle and the ‘Open Secret’

(p.1) Introduction: the Pedagogical Circle and the ‘Open Secret’
Open Secrets

Michael Bell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the central concern of the book: how to recognise and to think cogently about the limits of humanistic pedagogy. It does so by explaining two continuing motifs; the pedagogical circle is used by analogy with the hermeneutic circle. Whereas the hermeneutic circle suggests a possibly self-fulfilling process whereby interpretation is unwittingly governed by its necessary premises, the pedagogical circle sees a similarly closed logic in guided instruction, but now exacerbated by the factor of authority. The result of such instruction may be the ‘open secret’: a truth or recognition which, even as it is frankly imparted and is apparently understood, remains a secret because the listener does not yet possess the necessary experience. The remainder of the chapter provides an anticipatory summary of the argument, including the modern genesis of the Bildungsroman in the era of the philosophical tale and the novel of sentiment.

Keywords:   humanistic pedagogy, pedagogical circle, Bildungsroman, philosophical tale

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