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Education on the Internet: Anonymity vs. commitment

Internet and Higher Education Volume 1, Number 2, ISSN 1096-7516 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Many claim that the Internet will produce a new superior form of education open to anyone anywhere. In 1850 Søren Kierkegaard condemned the Press for contributing to the nihilism of his age by cultivating risk-free anonymity and idle curiosity thereby leveling all meaningful differences. He would surely have denounced the Internet for the same reasons. Kierkegaard would have seen that World Wide Web promotes his two nihilistic spheres of existence—the aesthetic and the ethical spheres—and repels the third, nonhilistic, religious sphere. In the religious sphere, nihilism is overcome by making a risky, unconditional, commitment, but the Net, which promises a risk-free, simulated world, tends to undermine rather than support such commitments. I point out that learning a skill requires the kind of commitment which is undermined by the Internet and, furthermore, that education at its best depends on apprenticeship. The proximity required by apprenticeship, however, is impossible in cyberspace.


Dreyfus, H.L. (1998). Education on the Internet: Anonymity vs. commitment. Internet and Higher Education, 1(2), 113-123. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved March 22, 2023 from .

This record was imported from Internet and Higher Education on January 29, 2019. Internet and Higher Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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