Revisiting and revitalising need as a non-dualist foundation for a (r)evolutionary pedagogy

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


In this chapter, I first present an overview of the philosophy of need encountered primarily in Karl Marx’s own writings, but also in subsequent “Neo-Marxist” contributions. I then critique the way this Marxian philosophy of need conflates the needing subject with a needed object, a position derived from the basic postulate of objectification in materialist philosophy. Conceiving needs as objects leads Marx to historicize human needs as particular to given modes of production. Rejecting this move, I revive the case for the universal and transhistorical nature of needs. I present two universalist pedagogical frameworks, Human-Scale Development and Nonviolent Communication, which invite us to connect with our needs, and to imagine and pursue new, non-alienated ways of meeting them. I suggest that we can readily align the non-dualism of these frameworks with a non-dualistic reading of Marx’s own ontological position; an interpretation that reopens space for what I call a (r)evolutionary praxis of needs. My overarching goal is to kindle curiosity or even excitement in the reader around the power of a needs-based praxis, and to germinate thoughts about how this praxis sits within the kinds of intersectional, pedagogical praxes documented in many other chapters in this handbook.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave International Handbook of Marxism and Education
EditorsRichard Hall, Inny Accioly, Krystian Szadkowski
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9783031372520
ISBN (Print)9783031372513
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameMarxism and Education (MAED)

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