The Education of Consciousness: Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

Emile Bojesen


Attempting to explore and push the margins of philosophy of education, this article describes Virginia Woolf’s The Waves and its characters, staying inside the and observing the education of their consciousness. The description offered is limited to educational reflections on what happens, avoiding normative questions and concerns. However, the conclusion hints towards ways in which philosophers of education who are interested in normative questions and concerns might approach this text in ways which this article does not. The expressions used in this paper – dispositions, consciousness, unconscious– are gestural and figurative rather than exhaustive and scientific. The argument is not concerned with what these words mean in general but rather with what they might mean and might elucidate for educational thought in the context of reading The Waves. This article rejects the need to do something un-literary by comprehensively elucidating key concepts, saying why they are important, relating them to everyday life, and defending claims like «dispositions are in-educable». The educational resonances of the text itself are presented as evidence, context, and point of interest. Implicit to the argument of this paper is a critique of limited and institutionally biased conceptions of experience as education.

Palabras clave

Virginia Woolf; consciousness; dispositions; unconscious; education; philosophy

Texto completo:

PDF (English)


Bersani, L. (2010). Is the Rectum a Grave? And other essays. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Blanchot, M. (2014). Into Disaster: Chronicles of Intellectual Life, 1941 [Translated by Michael Holland]. New York: Fordham University Press.

Bojesen, E. (2015). Of Remuant Existence. Philosophy Today, 56(3), 507-522.

Bojesen, E. (2016a). Passive Education. Educational Philosophy and Theory. Onlinefirst. DOI: 10.1080/00131857.2016.1200003

Bojesen, E. (2016b). Inventing the Educational Subject in the ‘Information Age’. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 35(3), 267-278.

Chun, M. (2012). Between Sensation and Sign: The Secret Language of The Waves. Journal of Modern Literature, 36(1), 53-70.

Duran, J. (2004). Virginia Woolf, Time, and the Real. Philosophy and Literature, 28(2), 300-308.

Henke, S. A. (1989). Virginia Woolf’s The Waves: A phenomenological reading. Neophilologus, 73(3), 461-472.

Heraclitus (2001). Fragments [Translated by Brooks Hamilton]. London: Penguin.

Hussey, M. (1986). The Singing of the Real World: The Philosophy of Virginia Woolf’s Fiction. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Lackey, M. (2006). Modernist Anti-Philosophicalism and Virginia Woolf’s Critique of Philosophy. Journal of Modern Literature, 29(4), 76-98.

Luttrell, R. (2013). Virginia Woolf’s Emersonian Metaphors of Sight in To the Lighthouse: Visionary Oscillation. Journal of Modern Literature, 36(3), 69-80.

Parkes, G. (1982). Imagining Reality in To the Lighthouse. Philosophy and Literature, 6(1), 33-44.

Rosenbaum, S. P. (1983). Railing Against Realism: Philosophy and To The Lighthouse. Philosophy and Literature, 7(1), 89-91.

Woolf, V. (2000[1931]). The Waves. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics.


Enlaces refback

  • No hay ningún enlace refback.

e-ISSN: 1698-7802

DOI prefix: 10.14516/fde


FahrenHouse: Salamanca, España 

Licencia de Creative Commons
Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial 3.0 España.