Giving Language to Taboos: Nation and Religion in Modern Educational Reasoning


  • Daniel Tröhler University of Vienna



nation, taboos, history of collective education, educational thinking


Like all taboos, nation and religion are so powerful precisely because they are often not brought to language. Educators around the world see themselves as secular, not religious, and rational, not national, and they develop their elegant, moral, and bland arguments precisely on this premise. This is, of course, capable of gaining majority support because it keeps the sociological machinery of educational thinking stably alive, but epistemologically it is unsatisfactory. Educational reasoning is sometimes as elegant as the freestyle of a virtuoso ice skater, sometimes as captivating as a rhetorically gifted village preacher, sometimes as clumsy as a plow horse that thinks it is a dressage horse. Some are the stars in the arena of academic education, others the moralizers, and others the bland extras. This rather simple sociology of educational reasoning emphasizes the different roles that Academics occupy in what Fleck called a “thought collective,” but it obscures that “thought collectives” share common “thought styles” in which, often carefully administered by national professional associations, truth is produced. In education, these “thought collectives” have historically been shaped by two fundamental elements. They are veritable taboo subjects, which are presupposed but hardly ever reflected upon, namely religion and nation.

Author Biography

Daniel Tröhler, University of Vienna

Professor of Foundation of Education at the Department of Education