Issue n° 18

Opening, Jacques Rancière (University of Paris VIII)

Moral chronicle, Alain Vergnioux (University of Caen)

From some propositions of Contemporary art, the author investigates what could be a school that would make the choice of modesty, commonness, or a refusal to work. It is the idea of a school, which is, in all respects, deceptive or grey.

Notion : Homework, Hervé Touboul (IUFM of Caen/Basse-Normandie)

As a movement from an exteriority towards the interiority of the pupil, homework is necessary for study, not only as an acquisition of knowledge, but also as a moral training. However, its virtues do not stop here : as its correction is deferred in time, homework calls for the meditation of writing ; as a lighter form of adult work, it aims towards the working socialization of the child ; it finally registers him, from his youngest age, into the universe of societal indebtedness. The author hypothesises a `teacher being’ who comes to be seen, in the light of collective behaviour, often of an unyielding sort, as an unwitting creator of `mythologies’, precepts, frameworks for interpreting reality. This `teacher being’ denies, in particular, that desire can play any part in the life of a school class. Pascal Bouchard questions this belief, showing that adolescents need both to experience this desire (which mediates their relationship to learning) and also to be protected from it.

Report: Work

Introduction, Pierre-Damien Huyghe (University of Paris I)

Notes on the Liberal Economists an Work, Maurice Andreu (University of Paris XII)

In order to justify the separation of economy and politics, the classically liberal (since Smith) and neo-classic (since Weber) economical currents advanced the theory of competitive exchange (the invisible hand and optimal general balance). As for labour, having been promoted as a source and measure of values, it had been relegated to a secondary position among production factors. For about twenty or thirty years, new liberals have been trying to demonstrate that it is in work organization that lies the superiority of private property and contractual relations, which, with the freedom of exchanges, characterize capitalism. Could our era be the one where capital means to use and exploit work resources on the basis of workers voluntary cooperation ?

The Philosophy of Work According to Georg Simmel, Jean-Louis Vieillard-Baron (University of Tours)

The author presents the philosophy of work elaborated on by Georg Simmel (1858-1918). This philosophy is critical towards any unitarian conception of work. He studies it so that the different modalities of exercise come to light. This method allows him to bring out a strictly quantitative conception of value and, on the contrary, to distinguish unlike qualities of value. As a consequence, a work is not valued only by the expense of immediate effort that it can require ; it will also integrate valuations previous to the activity. These valuations, with regard to effort, will seem to refer to a social a priori. Nevertheless there is a lot of work for which the need and function depend on a past social experience. What appears here is that work escapes its immediate experience : its value lies in a mediate way. The same thesis results from an analysis of culture. What culture holds is not the subjective experience of the moment. Culture is an objectivity of work and it is to be objectified that work belongs to culture. However, this connection, as the case of art illustrates, is susceptible to dynamism.

For a long time, I did not work…, Hubert Vincent (IUFM of Nord/Pas de Calais)

Driven by successive surges of opinion, the text attempts to define the intellectual working forms of today, those of a teacher and a researcher : to prepare courses, to draw up an article, and to `work for oneself,’ without managing to dissipate the impression of working on `nothing.’ The analysis raises a number of questions, which will remain scattered, and without answer : what does the `free’ time of an intellectual mean ? How does one define the `objects’ on which he works ? How does one give a social reason for these types of activities ? What do the requirements of competence mean, which every worker of some dignity today must answer ?

On Body and Tact : Effort in Work, Véronique Fabbri (CIPH)

There is an instrumental conception of technology where effort is valued as intentional and work is depreciated because of force. This conception has a history of which J.-P. Vernant showed the first lineaments in the passage of archaic Greece to classic Greece. It corresponds to the dissociation of ‘poièsis’ and praxis, which in Antiquity places the artisan as a victim. From there comes the idea of the submission of work, an idea generalized by the modern experience of work and of technology. The author shows that according to this idea effort is merged with the expense of a force and becomes pain. To go outside this conception, it is not necessary, as is still case in Marx, to envisage a liberation of work, but to think that the stake in any existence is not the realization of an essence. Effort, then, with no obligation of an end, can appear as the expression of intensity or of a power. One will find in the field of dance a practical analysis of the variety of intensities and the gestured rhythms by which each is activator or author of his gestures.

Internal Echo, Pierre-Damien Huyghe (University of Paris I)

Evoking Malevitch’s text, the author shows how work is generally inserted into the logic of promise. This logic bases the economical report in work, and beyond the regulation behaviour of existence. In this way, it does not oppose only the historicity ; it gains, as well, value in the present. Subjective possibilities disappear in a temporality without intensity. In the second part, the author shows that the extension of the economical principle is a modern and social fact, this last notion characterizing situations of weak presence to oneself. One must then wonder if an education, which would be dedicated to socialization, is relevant. How could a moment of attention to oneself and to the world appear in such a perspective ?

The Work of Invention : Hanslick, Alain, Adorno, Anne Boissière (University of Lille III)

In Hanslick’s musical analysis, to which the author immediately opposes that of Adorno, a notion of work as modelling is found. But superiority, then granted to the idea, leads to confining the know-how in a dependency with regards to knowledge. As a consequence, neither invention nor even the formal labour of the realization of work are really considered as producers. Canguilhem’s remarks at first, especially of Alain, allow him to bring in another conception where, as in plastic arts, material speaks. This conception puts the values of intention aside : it is mysterious that a production is creative. For the sculptor, material educates the hand. As in modelling with a mould, to which the medal striker proceeds, effort consists not in pulling a shape out of material, but in pushing this in a blind way, or almost blindly. For Alain as for Adorno, material brings about the schema. Formal work supports the plasticity of the building material ; it does not come out as a separate idea. Expression occurs itself in this plastic forming and is determined, consequently, as an action and a formal gesture, not as contents.

On Célestin Freinet’s Political Individualism, François Jacquet-Francillon (INRP)

Given as basis for work in the classroom, printing, free expression and the school newspaper do not go without numerous ambiguities. F. Jacquet-Francillon shows that the Freinet model may be closer to the individualism of the Lights than to the working culture, which he claims to belong to, also. On this point, the pedagogy of Freinet registers in a libertarian and liberal aim, and, if there is emancipation, it is that of the private person. For as much, school correspondence and the publication of each text means also the creation of a public space, where anyone, against any dogmatism and any authority, can express himself and confront others, including adults.

How to work during Adolescence when Thinking Becomes Painful, Nicole Catheline (CHU-CHR Poitiers)

With entry into adolescence, young people also reach abstract and reflexive thought, which makes the certainties of childhood vacillate, discover in themselves new emotions, and they have to set up new relational systems within the family and with their peers. These internal tensions are not without incidence or difficulties in their relation to school tasks : narcissistic regression and intellectual freezing give evidence for a situation where thought shows itself as `painful work.’

Document : The Strike of Pupils, Danièle Rancière

We are republishing Danièle Rancière’s article, published in the autumn of 1976, in the magazine Logical Revolts, #3, below. By thanking the author for having allowed this new publication, we also honour the work of this time. In the article, Danièle Rancière presents and analyses, from a press report found by a docker from Hull, Dave Marson, a pupils’ strike movement that arose in Great Britain during 1911. This movement was curiously overshadowed in archives. The author characterizes this eclipse less as a fact of repression than as a fact of auto-censorship of the popular memory. The strike of the pupils during 1911 refers to these forms of resistance which do not make tradition. There are acts aside from known genealogies of the revolt. Because such movements take place in history, it is less necessary to break a censorship than to bring a new look to the hierarchy of events.

Studies : `Impossible’ Professions, Laurence Cornu (IUFM of Poitou-Charentes)

Education aims to be `better’ but on the basis of being `less.’ For education to be good, one needs a good State – which is exactly what education gives itself as a purpose. Just as easily, the idea of truth in the order of knowledge as a model in training is invalidated by this logical circle. Laurence Cornu foresees two conclusions to this difficulty : to think of education in its temporality and to rely on the possibility of novelty ; to think of education not in the technical terms of an action on objects, but of actions between subjects.

Actuality : The Sense of School and Democracy, Philippe Foray (University of Saint-Etienne)

In Cerisy-la-Salle’s International Cultural Centre, a colloquium entitled ‘The Sense of School and Democracy’ was organized by the University of Caen, the magazine Le Télémaque, the Centre of Studies and Research in Educational Sciences (Cerse, EA 965), and the Centre of Political Research at the Sorbonne (CNRS, University Paris I) on September 20-24, 2000. The following report does not claim to collect communications made in a doctrinal statement, it only tries to order various subjects and various questions that the colloquium treated.

Actuality : Teaching Philosophy in Italy and in France, Danielle Milhaud-Cappe (ENCPB)

This Colloquium was organized by the International College of Philosophy with the cooperation of the Italian Cultural Institute on May 3-5, 2000, in Paris. Three days of mutual information and debates allowed a better outlining of two institutional and educational systems, divergence on the conception of this education, and what place it is to be given in secondary programs. Occupying symmetrical positions, the more `problematic’ on one side and the more `historical’ on the other, two traditions fed fruitful discussions on the connections between the teaching of philosophy and history, and politics, in particular.