Theses Doctoral

The Jesuit Imaginary: Higher Education in a Secular Age

Hendrickson, Daniel Scott

The philosopher Charles Taylor argues in A Secular Age (2007) that people who live in secular cultures are losing the capacity to experience genuine "fullness." Described by Taylor as a philosophical-anthropological conception of human flourishing that corresponds with existential senses of meaning and purpose, fullness is consistently referenced in the publication through dimensions of "contact" with a transcendent reality. The intersections of such contacts are characterized as phenomenal experiences and moral-ethical expressions. In appreciating Taylor's descriptions of fullness and a corresponding "ontic commitment" to a transcendent source, I develop three specific "pedagogies of fullness." The pedagogy of study, the pedagogy of solidarity, and the pedagogy of grace are higher educational strategies that emerge out of the Renaissance humanist tradition of Jesuit education and facilitate the relational contacts that make fullness, and, hence, meaning and purpose, possible. By engaging and networking multiple construals of individual experience (study), immersing students into contexts of alterity (solidarity), and validating inexplicable and phenomenal moments of consolation, gratitude, and wonder (grace), I argue that my conception of Jesuit higher education has the potential to restore fullness in a secular age. As Taylor characterizes Western individuals as independent and invulnerable, my pedagogies of fullness render relational possibilities to ourselves, others, and an Other that correspond with a hopeful envisioning the self and the social. The way of envisioning, a Jesuit imaginary, views selves and social milieus as interrelational and transformative of each other.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Philosophy and Education
Thesis Advisors
Laverty, Megan
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 9, 2012