Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Saari, A.
Knowledge Without Contexts? A Foucauldian Analysis of E.L. Thorndike’s Positivist Educational Research
(2016) Studies in Philosophy and Education, 35 (6), pp. 589-603.

DOI: 10.1007/s11217-016-9527-2

The article discusses the allegedly decontextualized and ahistorical traits in positivist educational research and curriculum by examining its emergence in early twentieth-century empirical education. Edward Lee Thorndike’s educational psychology is analyzed as a case in point. It will be shown that Thorndike’s positivist educational psychology stressed the need to account for the reality of schooling and to produce knowledge of the actual contexts of education. Furthermore, a historical analysis informed by Michel Foucault’s history of the human sciences reveals that there are multiple historical temporalities involved in Thorndike’s educational psychology. This allows a new critical angle to be taken on positivist educational research. The question concerning the contexts of empirical education turns to examining the way the conditions of possibility for scientific knowledge in education involve practices of contextualization as well as paradoxical and self-defeating elements. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.

Author Keywords
Foucault; History of education; Philosophy of education; Philosophy of science; Post-structuralism

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