Selfhood and Self-Esteem. A Phenomenological Critique of an Educational and Psychological Concept

Eva Schwarz


The concept of “self-esteem” plays a crucial but at the same time ambivalent role in contemporary educational discourse. On the one hand high self-esteem is put forward as a solution for educational problems. On the other hand philosophers of education argued that the concept of “self-esteem” is not doing justice to educational situations and thus an unjustified transfer of a psychological concept to the sphere of education. The paper at hand asks for the concept of “selfhood” that lies behind the different approaches to “self-esteem”. What is the “self ” we are esteeming? The paper formulates a philosophical reflection on the presuppositions inherent in both the “standard view” on self-esteem as well as in the criticism on it. Both proceed, as I want to show, from a one-sided and thus simplified concept of what it means to be a “self ”. I will argue that a phenomenological approach to “selfhood” can be helpful in order to gain a better understanding of the role of the “self” in education.


Article in: Lithuanian

Article published: 2010-09-15

Keyword(s): selfhood; self-esteem; phenomenology; philosophy of education

DOI: 10.3846/coactivity.2010.26

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Coactivity: Philosophy, Communication / Santalka: Filosofija, Komunikacija ISSN 2029-6320, eISSN 2029-6339
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