Joe Kincheloe's Critical Complex Epistemology/Pedagogy & Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage

Raising the Bar for Radical Love

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I discussed an aspect of this "radical love" in an earlier blog, The Heart of the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage.
There is more. How did Joe change radical love?
People in academia, in particular "critical pedagogues" talk about "radical love." I always wondered what it was, especially since no one really explained it or demonstrated it -- except Joe. I will qualify that--to a "certain degree" it was demonstrated, but not in the unconditional form that Joe advocated and modeled for us. After he passed away, I found that if I did not bend and shape in the "critical community" (which I did not) there was hell to pay. That's a funny kind of love, (not a groovy kind). It was also funny how my own prolific contributions in the form of blogs and discussions to the online community when Joe was alive were viewed from different assumptions than what Joe and I held, which was why I was tagged with the deficit label, "Eager Beaver Critical Pedagogue." Hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me...I was told Joe laughed when someone told him that...of course, he would! And so, Hermes will not let this one drop as I was led on very humorous "Eager Beaver Pacific Coast Treasure Hunts" with jokes within jokes within jokes, as I discussed in my dissertation.
Thus, in this section I'll explore the concept and clarify what Joe meant when he spoke of radical love and of including a "golden strand of love" in his work. I believe we all have much to learn.

As I review Joe Kincheloe's work, I will watch for quotations about love and post them here in the chronological order of the publications they come from. Then we can see how his concept of love and "radical love" evolved throughout his work. He was so well-known for his great love for everyone. In his last book, Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction, he had expressed that he had woven a "golden strand of love" throughout the book, and I have found many of those strands; he often referenced "Eros Love" in this book. But I have found that he has always included that golden strand, even his earliest work. My hope is that by posting quotations from him about love, as bricoleurs, we can come to understand why it's such an important dimension to the bricolage process and will be able to include that dimension in our own work.

1993 Toward a Critical Politics of Teacher Thinking: Mapping the Postmodern by Joe L. Kincheloe. Edited by Henry Giroux and Paulo Freire

[Quotation #1] When do we make the break from the prison of modernist thinking? When do we release ourselves on our own recognizance to explore the uncharted continents of cognition which are yet to be mapped? A critical politics of egalitarianism values the disclosure of the relationship between social structures shaped by power and our personal identities. Such disclosures form the basis of a radical ethic of agape, a love without strings attached, that is ready to learn from those who are exploited by manipulative social practices. Such a radical love is focused on the fight against inequality, especially those forms of inequality that are rationalized in the name of equality and the fight for justice. Radical love is particularly concerned with promoting concrete forms of justice which emerge from specific historical circumstances and involve specific men and women. In these specific circumstances our critical politics creates knowledge as it reclaims and legitimizes the voices that power has insidiously silenced--for example, women's voice of caring, Third World voices who speak the doubly conscious poetry of the oppressed, or the student voices struggling to express a sense of self in schools designed to conform them. Thus, our critical cognition values difference and learns from it but always contextualizes it within a larger framework of unity and human solidarity. (p.59)

[Quotation #2] Attention to the implicate order helps us transcend the fragmentation common to modernist ways of seeing. Bohm calls for an examination of reality that seeks to uncover the enfolded connections among events. Human and social experience has been reduced, Bohm and the postmodernists [critical complex epistemologists] argue, to discrete and arbitrary pieces that are separated from the combination of forces that provided human experience its distinction in the first place. Cartesian-Newtonian love, for example, involves a raised heartbeat, a specific increase in hormonal secretion, and a behavioral expectation of positive reciprocation. Modern curriculum is removed from the social realities that grant significance to the knowledge to be "mastered." Indeed, modern schools often see society as one cog of a larger machine that is to be studied. Critical postmodern analysts [multidimensional critical complex bricoleurs] see human beings and society as interconnected aspects of a broader framework, an implicate order, which reveals itself when the revolutionary possibility of humanity is entertained (Britxman 1991, 35; Oliver and Gershman 1989, 30). (p. 102-103)


2001 Getting Beyond the Facts: Teaching Social Studies/Social Sciences in the Twenty-first Century (Second Edition) by Joe L. Kincheloe

[Quotation #1] Critical researchers see themselves as passionate scholars who connect themselves emotionally to that which they are seeking to know and understand. (p. 504)

[Quotation #2] The critical constructivist exposure of fiction formulas [often unquestioned, taken-for-granted knowledge] constitutes a direct challenge to modernist modes of social representation. When modernist discourses of social research are subjected to the archeological "exhumation" of the critical constructivists, they are often revealed as promiscuous exercises of power. Such discursive schemas constitute the microfeatures of consciousness construction, the taken-for-granted components of subjectivity that prompted Gramsci to envision the purpose of philosophy as self-criticism. A critical philosophy, he argued, cultivates the ability of its adherents to criticize the ideological frames they employ to make sense of the world (Keat, 1994; Reynolds, 1987; Mardle, 1984). The criticism of dominant ideological frames and the exposure of petrified fossils of power, embedded in the modes of representation and presentation of mainstream social research, in no way should be read as anarchist strategies for nihilism, for the destruction of human agency. To the contrary, the exposé of shadow power is the foreplay for the consummation of political action, of counterhegemonic, taboo-breaking forms of informational representation and presentation. It is a primary objective of a critical democratic social studies. [page 570] 


2006 "Imagining New Ways of Thinking about Education: Postformal Speculations" 

 In Kincheloe & Thomas (2006) Reading, Writing, and Thinking: Postformal Basics. Sense.


[Quotation #1] Hell yes, I’m a subversive. I know human beings can do better, be smarter, grow less egocentric and violent, and develop new forms of connection to the cosmos and other people. Operating with such an erotic consciousness, we can even become radical lovers. As Paulo Freire told me over dinner at one of his favorite Portuguese restaurants in Boston: “there is nothing more important in this world than radical love.”


Injecting radical love into this postformal mix provides us with new inroads into the magic of words. I want to use this magic to write something that transforms our view of the world and self in the same way that bees transform pollen into honey.  (pp. 13-14­)


[I always loved this quote about bees transforming pollen into honey and sensed there was something especially divine about it. I just recently have learned what it represents.

Bees are a sacred totem related to the goddesses and priestesses returning. Of course, the return of the goddesses and priestesses also means the return of "radical love." Bees are also very mystical with magical qualities and they are associated with higher consciousness. This would be a fascinating topic to study in greater depth.]


[Quotation #2] Like generations past my conception of postformalism [aka critical psychology of complexity] was emerging as a Dionysian notion. Dionysis was the Greek god of wine and an orgiastic theology that rejoiced in the power and fecundity of cosmos. Dionysian ways of knowing involved activities that liberate and inspire human beings with a divine creativity, as they connect them to the life force of the cosmos. No wonder I was viewed as dangerous—these Dionysians were a subversive crowd to run with across the boundaries of time. (p. 19)

[Note: He presents one perspective of Dionysius as "dangerous"…other perspectives present Dionysius as a “fallen Eros” who lived his life with great joy and celebration. It depends on who is telling the story.]

[Quotation #3] When efforts to build our social world and personal lives around qualities such as love, empathy, trust, intellectual pursuit, munificence, and the valuing of difference come to be viewed as manifestations of fatuous, immature, sophomoric, naïve ways of seeing the world, something is amiss. Yet, Western models of modernization and development continue to drive political and educational objectives—in particular the way the society constructs “higher order thinking.” (p. 112)



2008 Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction by Joe L. Kincheloe.

[Quotation #1] The critical pedagogy we’re promoting here comes from another dimension (I’m not sure if it’s the 34th or the 57th) of human consciousness and reality, as it points out what is presently invisible and sometimes repressed by the representatives of dominant power. . . . Such 57th dimensional, eroticized knowledge pushes us to become epistemological adventurers who explore the edges of the cosmos, the most hidden dimensions of human ability, the resistant power of radical love. (p. 64) 

[Quotation #2] Rationalism erases forces such as caring, desire, and fear in the effort to “be rational.” Affective motivations for knowledge work are inappropriate in the rationalistic context. In a rationalist epistemology there is only one form of rationality, yet in the pluralistic critical epistemology promoted here there are many rationalities. Moreover, one of the central tasks of criticalists in this context is to study diverse forms of rationality—from both a cultural and historical perspective—for the purpose of cognitive growth and empathetic understanding that leads to justice. The construction of selfhood and the unexplored possibilities of selfhood are not relevant in FIDUROD. Those of us who study them are deemed to be wasting the world’s time.

Thus, FIDUROD’s knower is the “boy in the bubble”—an individual who is working best when he is the most isolated from himself and the world that has shaped him. Here, knowledge workers often unconsciously produce information that often leads to the degradation of various peoples around the world. Once critical epistemologists induce knowledge workers to examine the invisible forces that shape their employers’ needs and their own consciousnesses, such researchers begin to interrogate the purposes of their work. At this point they may begin to as themselves: am I here to increase the profits of corporate executives by making their businesses, factories, and offices more cost-effective? Do I contribute to the process of colonization and the consequent dehumanization of the majority of the people on the earth>? Once such questions are asked about uses of knowledge and knowledge producers, dramatic changes begin to take place (Allen, 2000; Thayer-Bacon, 2000, 2003; Fernandez-Balboa, 2004).

This brings us back once again to a golden conceptual thread that runs through this book. Our ticket off the FIDUROD island (run by the Dharma Project?) involves our critical multilogicality—gaining the ability and disposition to look at the world not from the perspective of the U.S./Western empire but through the senses of the colonized molded by pain and devaluation. [page 84]

[Quotations #3] The positivist tradition has always been characterized by a darkness, a lack of respect for life force--an embrace of critical theorist's Herbert Marcuse's (1955) notion of thantos (death instinct) in lieu of his eros (life impulse). The workings of FIDUROD leave me cold. In their presence I feel like someone who just received a bad decision at the Last Judgment. A critical pedagogy that constructs knowledge and formulates action based on eros with its drive to alleviate human suffering serves as a counterpoise to the empire's positivistic thanatos. (p. 100)

[Quotation #4] When there is so much we don’t know in the cosmos, to attribute the emergence of the universe to mere mechanical (non-conscious) causes seems to be rather myopic. I find it difficult to accept such a meaningless universe when I’ve seen the power of love—as Paulo Freire put it, radical love—to change lives and to bring about justice. (p. 122)

[Quotation #5]. To me, one of the most exciting dimensions of being a critical theorist and engaging in a critical pedagogy entails opening ourselves up to a passionate imagination, where we constantly remake ourselves in light of new insights and understandings. (p. 250)





Big Deal-Catch Up 
“As a child I wanted so desperately for magic to be real. I would work for hours collecting what I hoped were just the right combination of ingredients to make some type of magic potion that would provide me with special powers….I found such magic in words viewed in a postformal matrix and I observe and practice that magic everyday.” (Kincheloe, 2006, Reading, Writing, Thinking, p. 13)
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