Matthew Bokma


Intrigued by the idea of holistic education, Matthew Bokma has a keen interest in exploring academic education that reaches beyond what is offered by standardized curriculum. Believing that education is a way of life, he's delighted to meet other students who conceive of learning built primarily on intrinsic motivation. In order to solidify these passions in communal fashion, Matthew has helped to nurture a small intellectual community of students and professors who regularly meet together at the Paideia Centre for Public Theology in Ancaster, Ontario.

Interestingly, what ignited his passion for the possibility of a holistic education in the Liberal Arts was the rather obscure philosophical traditions of existentialism and phenomenology. These traditions do not teach anything new—indeed, as Solomon says, there is nothing new under the sun. Rather, Matthew insists that these traditions helped him to become aware of his existential predicament, or, to use Heidegger's language, his thrownness into existence and into a world of encounter. It is the awareness that the world is built on encounters—or on intentional relationships—that Matthew wishes to see furnished on students in the classrooms. More precisely, Matthew wishes to see students furnished with a language to articulate the structure of the relationship between them and the world. Education should be a world-opening, not world-closing experience!

For Matthew, the notion of intentionality led to a deep fascination with questions concerning the interface between lived life and theoretical thought. He has argued in a thesis titled "An Existential-Phenomenological Account of the Role of Paradox in Psychology" that life's paradoxes arise from the collision between these two modalities; they arise when theory collapses back onto the immediacy of lived life. Moreover, while writing a chapter about Søren Kierkegaard's existentialism for publication in Roald Dahl and Philosophy: A Little Nonsense Now and Then, Matthew has discovered how the simplicity of, say, a children's story book can carry profound existential weight.

It is precisely the interface between theory and practice that inspires Matthew to complement his theorizing with cooking, baking, and exercising.

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