Abstract

This article addresses the question of what is at stake in learning and unlearning. It starts by showing that practices of learning have often been bound up with the explicative order, which always teaches the difference between intelligence and unintelligence, between the ignorant and the learned. But these traditional practices of learning cannot simple be erased, so that we would start with a tabula rasa; such an approach only reconstructs the stultifying principle of singularity by which there is one correct point of view. Hence the emancipatory potential of practices of unlearning. But unlearning must be grasped in a very specific way. Unlearning depends on a principle and a practice of unexplaining. To “unexplain” means to undo the opinion of inequality, to challenge it with the assumption of equality. Yet unexplaining cannot be taken up as a negative form of criticism (it is not a method) any more than unlearning can become an institutionalized pedagogy. Instead, unlearning delinks the acts of teaching and learning. It means first, that you learn from somebody or something that never taught you, and second, that you do not teach what you have learned. Rather than teaching it, you tell it, and out of that telling others may learn from you something else, something that you do not know.

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