To educate is etymologically to lead out of… This presupposes a constraint as depicted in Plato’s allegory of the cave. it is a question of violently removing the prisoner detached from his chains. Before being educated the prisoner is not free…by definition. He is therefore forced to leave his habits…but how can this act be called constraint insofar as the state of the person who is detached is that of a prisoner? Let us take the words literally. We are told that the prisoner is detached, freed from his chains. Plato thus affirms that education makes us free, that is to say freed from the constraints of prejudice. Educating appears as an act of liberation, directing the gaze towards supersensible truths. The student is freed from his attachments to the sensitive world, source of illusion and alienation. Political consequence of this education…he will have to go back down into the cave and govern men who are not always open or even threatening towards him. For Plato, let us note that not everyone is likely to be educated.. this requires a certain naturalness that all men do not necessarily possess.. rare are those who can really get out of the chains of the prejudice.
However, this conception that we have just sketched is not the one that we spontaneously have of education. Education is spontaneously defined as constraint. But to pose it as such is to presuppose a definition of freedom. The latter would be synonymous with independence. Narcissistic and selfish dream of the child who finds it difficult to bear being denied what his tyrannical desire demands. Illusion of someone who thinks he is an empire within an empire, as Spinoza would say.
This is why this question may seem paradoxical to someone who sees in freedom the total realization of his desires…and who neglects this alienation of desire…In order not to leave Spinoza, let us remember what he written in the appendix at the end of book I of Ethics : men without exception are victims of this illusion which consists in believing that they are masters of their wills and desires. Thus we can say that education does not take away any freedom from us since we are not endowed with it. Just as the stone follows the law of its nature, man follows the law of his determinations. we will find in Freud this definition of man…a being in no way good-natured in search of the good for his neighbour, but someone
Thus social life is thinkable only on the condition of tearing man away from his nature. To educate is to give man norms and rules that will enable him to live with his fellows. Should we deduce from this, however, that the normativity of education makes any space of freedom impossible? An education should not mechanize the individual but allow him to in turn be the bearer of rules and standards likely to change the values of the society in which he evolves. This is why education should not aim at mere repetition but introduce a margin so that the individual emancipates himself and is the bearer of a possible renewal of the rule. is not necessarily the one you think)
Education is a violent act. But does it set us free? In the sense that it frees us from our natural savagery yes. Not being subject to one’s nature is a state that can be called free. This discipline of affects and impulses makes man capable of coming out of himself. this is what Kant writes in this text:
Discipline makes us pass from the animal state to that of man. An animal is by its very instinct all it can be; a foreign reason has taken all the care for him in advance indispensable. But man needs his own reason. He has not no instinct, and he has to make up his own plan for conduct. But, as he is not immediately capable of this, and he comes into the world in the wild, it needs the help of others. The human species is forced to draw from itself little by little by his own efforts all the natural qualities which belong to humanity. A generation educates the other. One cannot look for the first beginning in a state raw or in a perfect state of civilization; but, in this second case, it must still be admitted that man subsequently fell back into the state savage and barbarism.