The wisdom of being positively supportive

March 24, 2011

Frank Furedi evokes the Aristotelian notion of phronesis, as interpreted by Hannah Arendt, in support of his claim that "Our job is to judge" (17 March). In a classic non sequitur, he then expresses concern that new lecturers are encouraged to be "supportive" and "positive" in the criticism they make of their students.

Why does he think that being "supportive" and "positive" is incompatible with the practical wisdom that Arendt, following Aristotle, advocated? Judgement, for Arendt, is always an ongoing deliberative process, the endpoint of which is mutual recognition and shared understanding. It is, in other words, supportive of and positive towards the flourishing of that which is judged.

Arendt may have been a tough lady, but students such as Jerome Kohn and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl who attended her 1969 class in politics at The New School in New York testify to the boundless support and positive encouragement her students received from her. Arendt cannot be so easily co-opted on to Furedi's platform of well-rehearsed prejudices.

Jon Nixon, Cumbria

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Daniel Mitchell illustration (29 June 2017)

Academics who think they can do the work of professional staff better than professional staff themselves are not showing the kind of respect they expect from others

As the pay of BBC on-air talent is revealed, one academic comes clean about his salary

A podium constructed out of wood

There are good reasons why some big names are missing from our roster

Senior academics at Teesside University put at risk of redundancy as summer break gets under way

Thorns and butterflies

Conditions that undermine the notion of scholarly vocation – relentless work, ubiquitous bureaucracy – can cause academics acute distress and spur them to quit, says Ruth Barcan