Talk:Ivan Illich

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History of Pain[edit]

several web pages refer to a "history of pain" that Illich was about to publish in 2003 in France. Was this ever published? by whom?,3604,856395,00.html

He was able to finish a history of pain which will be published in French next year, as will his complete works

He was able to finish a history of pain (which will be published in French in 2003).

The last 10 years of his life were spent coping with a very painful cancerous condition, from which he managed to distill a treatise on the 'history of pain' (published last year in France) before his death. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Vernier (talkcontribs) (02:50, 23 May 2004)


"family with ... Dalmatian roots" doesn't quite mean much in 20th century context. This sounds like a Slavic surname. Croat, Serb, ...? --Joy [shallot] 21:40, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)

What do about this:
His family was was from Croatia, but he was born in Austria, moved to Italy when he was fifteen, and did most of his important work in Mexico and the U.S. Many countries have a legitimate claim on him. Lunchboxhero

Most celebrated work?[edit]

the article notes it is deschooling society. from whence this claim? according to whom? citation? could not medical nemesis take this honor? pleases discuss.Platypusjones 19:24, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Agree Medical Nemesis - ideas widely appreciated by UK GPs, even if we don't agree with his conclusions, we generally appreciate the arguments and the risk of over medicalising or of encouraging dependence by some patients upon their doctors. David Ruben Talk 03:02, 31 May 2006 (UTC)
thanks for the opinion, David. i think any entry is susceptible to favoring one work over the other without necessary support. i'll wait for another opinion and then decide on the change, referring to this discussion if there is concern.Platypusjones 14:58, 5 June 2006 (UTC)
Here is another opinion: I suggest that Tools for Conviviality may ultimately turn out to be Illich's most important work. However, I believe that it would probably be fairly easy to demonstrate that Deschooling Society is - or rather was - by far Illich's most widely read work (based on number of book sales) and most quoted work (based on statistics about bibliographical references). But I wouldn't personally know how to demonstrate either of these. Redeyed Treefrog 07:34, 15 August 2007 (UTC)


I don't know anything about this person but what I've read here; I'm just wondering if he should have the "Catholics" tag?• Leon 08:12, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Absolutely. I'll add it. Freder1ck 00:51, 21 September 2006 (UTC)Freder1ck
About him not having a catholic tag - he was a priest, and a catholic priest. And i don't know what's more catholic than that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Plaviobronak (talkcontribs) (13:27, 17 January 2007)
When? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) (17:49, 18 August 2007)

Why Italian?[edit]

Why is he named as an Italian? I saw no references to him being Italian in any literature. Plaviobronak 13:23, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Illich came of age in Italy, and also rumour has it that the Church of Rome has something to do with Italy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) (20:15, 18 August 2007)

Kicked Quotations[edit]

  • Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship.
  • People need new tools to work with rather than new tools that "work" for them.
  • Homo economicus was surreptitiously taken as the emblem and analogue for all living beings.
  • Not only what men do but also what men want is designated by a noun. 'Housing' designates a commodity rather than an activity. People acquire knowledge, mobility, even sensitivity or health. They have not only work or fun but even sex.
  • I do think that if I had to choose one word to which hope can be tied it is hospitality. A practice of hospitality recovering threshold, table, patience, listening, and from there generating seedbeds for virtue and friendship on the one hand. On the other hand radiating out for possible community, for rebirth of community..
  • If you are going to work in a barrio, at least do it in the U.S. so that when they tell you to go to hell you can hear it in your own language.
  • After illegal drugs and arms, the most insidious U.S. export is the American Idealist. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) (20:55, 10 April 2007)
This annoys me, quite frankly. These comments were removed from the article by an anonymous user, who moved them here to the talk page, and offered no reasoning or justification for their deletion. Quotations of this sort, properly cited, of course, can be helpful in giving a sense of a writer, theorist, or philosopher's ideas. If I can get some assistance finding citations for these quotes, I would like to return them to the article. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 18:07, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Added "See Also" Links[edit]

I have added the following "See also" links to the Ivan Illich article: Deschooling, Critical pedagogy, Holistic education, Credentialism, Development criticism, Critique of technology, Lee Felsenstein, Medecine: Criticism of medicine, Alternative Medicine.

Can anyone tell me what is the proper way to indicate a link to "Criticism of medicine" as a heading under the article "Medicine"? Redeyed Treefrog 17:16, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

'Worldwide notoriety:' POV or what!?[edit]

Whether Ivan Illich's views are globally 'notorious' or evocative of a lone, prophetic voice crying in the wilderness surely depends on POV? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) (10:35, 16 August 2007)

Ivan Illich:Hero/Guiding Light of Wikipedia?[edit]

Rather than being dismissed as someone of global 'notoriety,' shouldn't Ivan Illich have special, Hero of Wikipedia status? After all, his general contention that various authorities and professions should be closely and sceptically examined and questioned is surely at one with the revolutionary founding principle of encyclopedias in general, and Wikipedia in particular? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) (16:16, 16 August 2007)

Deschooling Society 'dated?'[edit]

The Deschooling Society section says, 'Full of detail on then-current programs and concerns, the book can seem dated.' This is a POV non sequitur, in the sense that some readers might actually want and appreciate the contemporaneous historical detail in support of Illich's contentions. I suggest instead: ' of its time.' —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) (19:08, 18 August 2007)

Talk page cleanup.[edit]

I have done some major cleanup here on this talk page, including adding a lot of "unsigned" tags to anonymous comments, as well as rearranging and formatting comments for better flow and consistency. It would help, in future, if people would sign their comments and use proper formatting, including indenting responses to others' comments. Thanks. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 18:04, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup and removal of "Unreferenced section" and "POV section" tags[edit]

I added references to the "Tools for Conviviality" section, and then removed the "Unreferenced section" tag. I also modified the "Deschooling Society" section to replace the contested "most celebrated work" statement by an incontestable "work that brought him to public attention" statement. I then deleted the "POV section" tag. Another POV dispute on this talk page is the anonymous unsigned contribution contesting Illich's notoriety, which I think we can dismiss as being a form of vandalism, since Illich clearly has sufficient notoriety to appear on Wikipedia. Finally there is a POV dispute about "Deschooling Society" seeming dated. I felt obliged to delete the words "seems dated" from this section, though anyone who reads the book will find it dated. The intent of this anonymous unsigned contribution seems suspect, as if someone were deliberately planting irrelevant POV contests in order to provoke a "POV section" tag. - Redeyed Treefrog 10:04, 1 November 2007 (UTC)


I've read a number of secondary sources that state he was an anarchist, but I'm having trouble finding an original quote where he personally self-identifies his politics. Can anyone confirm that he was an anarchist, and if so, did he ever state a preference for any school of anarchist thought?--Cast (talk) 03:34, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

There are sources available. Here is an essay in which Illich talks about the "anarchist" nature of Christ, why he believes so, and why he follows him. Illich's anarchist views are discussed at length in The Challenges of Ivan Illich: A Collective Reflection, edited by Lee Hoinacki and Carl Mitcham, as well as in Mitcham's essay "Tools For Conviviality: Argument, Insight, Influence" in the book Europe, America, and Technology: Philosophical Perspectives edited by Paul T. Durbin. A note of caution, though, is provided by Richard Wall in his essay "A Turbulent Priest in the Global Village: Ivan Illich, 1926 – 2002," which serves as both an obituary and a review of Challenges, published on, in which he argues that Illich's thinking defies categorization. I would say that only makes him more of an anarchist. More specifically, I seem to recall him praising Prince Kropotkin, specifically, Mutual Aid and Fields, Factories, and Workshops Tomorrow, though I cannot find a source for that (yet). ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 15:31, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
Thank you very much. I'll dutifully research these documents and provide a citation for this article.--Cast (talk) 16:06, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
You're quite welcome. My pleasure, really. ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 16:57, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

Can anyone clear up the personal-history enigmas?[edit]

Illich, at some point in his life, comes to espouse ideas of informal learning, face-to-face community, decentralization, ad hoc & creative dealing with circumstance. These sorts of ideas are central to his critique and are abundant in his well-known writings.

Yet he starts out in life with a lot of schooling, becomes an assistant Roman-Catholic priest, and is given a role of responsibility within the Catholic Church in Puerto Rico!

How does his personal evolution occur? How does Illich succeed within "schooling" culture, yet come to be convinced of the crucial importance of a high ratio of informal to formal learning (in the lives of individuals and communities)? Perhaps of even greater curiosity: how does he shift from carrying out an assigned role within the enormous, hierarchical, top-down, dogmatic Roman-Catholic system to his adherence to the folksy, poetic-imaginative, decentralized, localist position—for which he was one of the most influential spokespersons of recent decades?

Pennsylvania State University faculty?[edit]

The categories include Pennsylvania State University faculty, but the article itself never mentions that status. A reference is needed. I have left the template in place here. --DThomsen8 (talk) 23:51, 17 June 2011 (UTC)

Deleted Neil Postman reference[edit]

Illich is only mentioned in passing in the Introduction to Neil Postman's "Technopoly." There is no discussion of him. Cleeder (talk) 14:00, 29 February 2012 (UTC)

I think the reference was referring to the first clause about other writers, not the second clause about Illich. I've replaced the citation. –Temporal User (Talk) 11:15, 22 September 2012 (UTC)


Ivan Illich retired from public ministry in 1969, but it's not clear to me that he was actually laicized ("defrocked"). That would require a specific action by the church hierarchy. Some news articles and books confuse the two, but I haven't been able to find specific information that he was laicized. Therefore, I'm removing the category "Laicized Roman Catholic priests." If anyone wants to restore it, please also add corresponding text to the article and appropriate sourcing. Thanks. --Amble (talk) 03:22, 25 February 2013 (UTC)


Why isn't there anything here refuting Illich's works, explaining how other educators view his methods? Where are the results of studies done to evaluate his primary tenets? This article is unfinished. Rissa, Guild of Copy Editors (talk) 07:06, 11 October 2015 (UTC)