CFP – Dialectic as an ‘Aristotelian’ Teaching Method

Dialectic as an ‘Aristotelian’ Teaching Method

In recent years, scholars have revived Aristotle’s pedagogical principles (see, e.g., Kristjánsson 2015), especially within the broader context of character education (Miller 2017). A renewed interest in Aristotle’s virtue ethics stimulated education scholars to investigate the impact of friendship and other virtues of the teacher on the moral growth of their students (Kristjánsson 2020). Scholars have already asked themselves whether Aristotle’s philosophy could have an impact on our didactic practices. Carr and Kemmis (1986), for instance, argued that Aristotle’s reflections on theoretical, productive and practical sciences could help overcoming the dominant image of teaching as a profession with mere practical goals, thereby suggesting that an Aristotelian account of theory and practice supports that idea of a “teacher as a researcher”. Other aspects of Aristotle’s thought on education have been less investigated, and little attention has been paid to what would count as an ‘Aristotelian’ teaching method.

In this conference, we would like to explore the possibility of identifying and outlining such a method, thus fostering the dialogue between philosophers and educators. After the seminal studies gathered in Owen (1968), few studies have been devoted to Aristotle’s dialectic for decades, but in the past few years scholars have been increasingly arguing that Aristotle’s research method is fundamentally dialectical.

This claim helps us solve an old conundrum: if the sciences have a syllogistic structure, as Aristotle argues in his Posterior Analytics, shouldn’t his scientific treatises also display such a structure? Barnes (1969) argued that the syllogistic structure outlined in the Posterior Analytics should be preferred for didactic purposes, while Aristotle’s treatises present the results of his philosophical research, that were in turn carried out in a dialectical way, as argued, among others, by Irwin (1988). Recent studies have argued that syllogistic itself is grounded on dialectic, i.e., on structured dialogue between a questioner and an answerer according to certain principles chiefly expounded in Topics VIII. According to many didactics scholars, teaching requires special techniques to select, reduce and transpose the knowledge produced outside school (Chevallard 1985; see Bosch & Gascón 2005 for the transformation of knowledge from its production to its teaching).

In this conference, we would like to explore the idea that a regimented dialogue could serve the purpose of being an “Aristotelian teaching method”, and that a theory of education and learning in Aristotle implies theoretical awareness of different epistemic regimes affecting the way of sharing knowledge between experts and novices. We invite papers that address the following questions:

– Is there an Aristotelian theory about the most effective teaching method?

– Is there an Aristotelian theory about the necessity to propose contents to students in a specific way, epistemically different from the way a scientist shares them with their peers?

– Can dialectic serve the purpose to teach moral values as well as disciplinary and intellectual content?

– Is dialectic a viable means to transfer any kind of knowledge in today’s school setting?

– How were these issues tackled in Aristotle, in the Aristotelian tradition broadly construed and in contemporary pedagogical research?

– Is there a learning theory in Aristotle that affects the later development of didactics to some relevant extent?

We welcome papers from philosophers, historians of education and education scholars and we aim at stimulating dialogue between these disciplines in this conference.

The conference will take place at Urbino University, Italy, on June 30 – July 1, 2022 and will be sponsored by Urbino University.

Short abstracts (200-300 words) with proposals for the conference should be sent in anonymous form to both Andrea Lupi ( ) and Luca Gili ( ) by April 15, 2022.

Decisions will be notified by April 25, 2022.

Confirmed keynote speakers: Maria Silvia Vaccarezza (University of Genoa) and Wouter Sanderse (Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Utrecht).

We expect to publish the proceedings of the conference. Small bursaries might be available to cover the stay in Urbino for the speakers.

Languages of the conference: English and Italian

Speakers will have the option to present online if they so wish.

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