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Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted or practiced. It is a practical and applied knowledge to one's actions. It has meaning in political, educational, and spiritual realms.

Contents

Origins

In Ancient Greek the word praxis (πρᾱξις) 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).[citation needed]

Marxism

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." Simply put, Marx felt that philosophy's validity was in how it informed action.

Georg Lukács 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.

Education

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 A. Kolb.[1]

Paulo Freire defines praxis in Pedagogy of the Oppressed as "reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it." Through praxis, oppressed people can acquire a critical awareness of their own condition, and, with their allies, struggle for liberation.[2]

In the BBC television documentary "New Order: Play At Home", Factory Records owner Tony Wilson describes praxis as "doing something, and then only afterwards, finding out why you did it".

Spirituality

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, which 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]

According to Strong's Hebrew dictionary, the Hebrew word, ta‛am, is; properly a taste, that is, (figuratively) perception; by implication intelligence; transitively a mandate: - advice, behaviour, decree, discretion, judgment, reason, taste, understanding.

Organizations

While praxis usually refers to the process of putting theoretical knowledge into practice, the strategic and organizational usage of the word emphasizes the need for a constant cycle of conceptualizing the meanings of what can be learned from experience in order to reframe strategic and operational models.[citation needed]

Social work

In social work theory, praxis is the reflexive relationship between theories and action. It describes a cyclical process of social work interactions developing new theories and refining old ones, as well as theories directing the delivery of social work interactions.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Kolb, D., david a. kolb on experiential learning, Informal Education Encyclopedia.
  2. ^ Freire, P. (1986) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum. p. 36
  3. ^ Holy Impatience: an interview with Matthew Fox, YES! Magazine.

Further reading

External links

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