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Praxis (word)

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Praxis is the process by which a theory or lesson becomes part of lived experience through a cycle of action-reflection-action[1].

Rather than a theory being simply developed at the intellectual level, ideas are tested and experienced in the real world, followed by an opportunity for reflective contemplation and re-evaluation. In this way, abstract concepts are connected with lived reality.

OriginsEdit

In Ancient Greece the word "praxis" referred to activity engaged in by free men. Aristotle held that there were three basic activities of man: theoria, poiesis and praxis. There corresponded to these kinds of activity three types of knowledge: theoretical, to which the end goal was truth; poietical, to which the end goal was production; and practical, to which the end goal was action. Aristotle further divided practical knowledge into ethics, economics and politics. He also distinguished between "eupraxia" (good praxis) and "dyspraxia" (bad praxis, misfortune).

Political usageEdit

The concept is also important in Marxist thought. In fact, "philosophy of praxis" was the name given to Marxism by 19th century socialist Antonio Labriola.

Marx himself stated in his Theses on Feuerbach that "philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Simpy put, Marx felt that philosophy's validity was in how it informed action. Georg Lukacs held that the task of political organization is to establish professional discipline over everyday political praxis, consciously designing the form of mediation best suited to clear interactions between theory and practice.

Educational usageEdit

Praxis is used by educators to describe a recurring passage through a cyclical process of experiential learning, such as the cycle described and popularised by David Kolb[2].

Spiritual usageEdit

Praxis is also key in meditation and spirituality, where emphasis is placed on gaining first-hand experience of concepts and certain areas, such as union with the Divine, can only be explored through praxis due to the inability of the finite mind (and its tool, language) to comprehend or express the infinite. In an interview for YES! Magazine, Matthew Fox explained it this way:

Wisdom is always taste -- in both Latin and Hebrew, the word for wisdom comes from the word for taste -- so it's something to taste, not something to theorize about. "Taste and see that God is good," the psalm says; and that's wisdom: tasting life. No one can do it for us. The mystical tradition is very much a Sophia tradition. It is about tasting and trusting experience, before institution or dogma. [3]

Further readingEdit

Paulo Freire, (1970). Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 0826412769.

External linksEdit

he:פרקסיס

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