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

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'