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Word and action, action and reflection, theory and practice are all facets of the same idea (Paul Taylor, 1993).

PRAXIS (word)

Praxis is the process by which a theory or lesson becomes part of lived experience, such as in the scientific method. Rather than a lesson being examined at an objective level in discussion, ideas are tested and experienced in real world scenarios. Real world application is then followed by an opportunity for reflective contemplation and consideration. In this way, abstract concepts are connected with lived reality.

  • The purpose of a theoretical discipline is the pursuit of truth through contemplation; its telos[1] is the attainment of knowledge for its own sake. The purpose of the productive sciences is to make something; their telos is the production of some artefact. The practical disciplines are those sciences which deal with ethical and political life; their telos is practical wisdom and knowledge. (Carr & Kemmis 1986: 32)


Practical reasoning[2]

  • Where the productive begins with a plan or design, the practical cannot have such a concrete starting point. Instead, we begin with a question or situation. We then start to think about this situation in the light of our understanding of what is good or what makes for human flourishing. Thus, for Aristotle[3], praxis is guided by a moral disposition to act truly and rightly; a concern to further human well being and the good life. This is what the Greeks called phronesis[4] and requires an understanding of other people.

  • In praxis there can be no prior knowledge of the right means by which we realize the end in a particular situation. For the end itself is only specified in deliberating about the means appropriate to a particular situation (Bernstein 1983: 147).We can now see the full quality of praxis. It is not simply action based on reflection. It is action which embodies certain qualities. These include a commitment to human well being and the search for truth, and respect for others. It is the action of people who are free, who are able to act for themselves. Moreover, praxis is always risky. It requires that a person 'makes a wise and prudent practical judgement about how to act in this situation' (Carr and Kemmis 1986: 190).



  • Scientific Method [5]

Works cited:

  • Bernstein, Richard. Beyond objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

  • Carr, W. and Kemmis, S. Becoming critical: education knowledge and action research. London: Falmer Press, 1986.

  • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder, 1970.