Issue n° 41


Moral chronicle : Desire and Imitation, Sébastien Charbonnier (Nantes University)

Education places individuals in relation to one another. Traditionally this was conceived according to an asymmetric schema. Certain people teach others and the others learn from them. But if one asks whether what is primarily in question in education, it is less a problematic of transmission than a problematic of formation. How can the energies of individuals be mobilized in order that these form themselves and among themselves. The true educational problem is therefore: how can I share with the other person my desire to know so that we can learn things from one another through taking part in a community of research? To explore this issue the author draws on Spinoza, Gabriel Tarde and René Girard: three great thinkers in the area of the relationship between desire and imitation. In trying to give expression to their analyses, which complement more than they contradict one another, it is possible to understand the dynamic of desire and its need for epistemic equality; its cross individual power of changing, on both sides, the agents of the educational act, and the properly political horizon of adjustment that it accommodates between people.

Notion : Epistemophilia, Jacques Arveiller (Caen University)

The author identifies, surveys and provides here the notion of epistemophilia as it appears in the work of the psychoanalyst, Melanie Klein (1882-1960). It shows that it is at the heart of her theory of intellectual inhibition, linked to repression. He then rapidly envisages the final consequences of the application of such models to the intellectually challenged, on the educational and scholastic levels first, and then on the clinical and therapeutic levels.

Report: Truth from Abroad

Presentation, Alain Vergnioux

Cosmopolitan education: learning about oneself and learning about the other, Jean-Marc Lamarre (Nantes University)

A cosmopolitan education cannot be a globalized education subject to economic or geopolitical imperatives nor can it be founded on universal principles. Turning back to the eighteenth century, J-M Lamarre examines the position of Rousseau then of Kant to show that for Rousseau education remains ‘national’ and achieves universality only in an abstract fashion, essentially in respect of morality. Kant, on the other hand ,constructs the principle of a cosmopolitan and pluralist law based on hospitality with the idea of a cosmopolitan right of foreigners to remain foreigners. For Hölderlin the mind can understand itself only through assimilation of the other in a double relation of polarity and equality between self and the other in recognition of the stranger that is in oneself because we are never exactly the same as one another.

The stranger as exception to the principle of the universal in education, Anna Pagès Santacana (Ramon Llull University, Barcelone)

Pedagogy is interested in what applies to everyone, in the universal and welcomes the stranger with a concern to reduce differences and otherness. But, in doing so, pedagogy shows its incapacity to consider her or his ‘singularity’. What place then can be accorded to the idea of the universal in education. How can it take into account singularity, i.e., exceptions to the universal that apply to everyone? Education should subsume differentiation under the category (universal/plural) of the pupil. It ought to be possible (Jean-Claude Milner) to relate the universal to the singular as in the Greek system, to affirm singularity in a community (hospitality means recognising the stranger in her or his otherness). It is also for this reason that the practice in the modern school of placing foreigners in ‘reception classes’ does not reflect hospitality. It would be appropriate on the contrary in the perspective of a special welcome to be reborn as a ‘supernumerary child’, to use the expression of Jean-Paul Sartre’s.

An American in Peking, John Dewey, Patrick Berthier (Paris VIII University)

If travel is still the best way of gaining access to the otherness of abroad, must we then know how to travel? What kind of experience does travel entail? How can we gain access to this otherness? Dewey puts aside the idea of understanding through history or that of a universal mental act of mediation. If it is true that ways of thinking are nothing other than metabolised forms of habits, Dewey tries therefore to determine the ‘particularities’ of Chinese ‘culture’ by a description of ways of behaving that one cannot measure. Does he think that in relating to their environment it is a matter in the end of a ‘natural’ philosophy? Encounters between cultures are then a question that can only be raised in a pragmatic and open way in the context of a hypothesis of a ‘common background of wisdom and experience’.

Ways of thought, customary ways. Spaces and words in Kanakie, Alain Kerlan (Lyon II University)

The encounter with abroad is at first the experience of an unsettling of our ways of being and thinking, as is illustrated by the trip to New Caledonia undertaken by the author who had been invited to give lectures there. Speaking comes up against unsuspected difficulties as it demands entering into a system of sharing into one must be initiated. Receiving and giving gifts mark out a space where it is possible to recognize one another, a very special place, emotional and regulated, symbolic and protected. The author finds this again in nursery school in the ‘language corner’, in the theatre, in the drawings of children. The encounter with abroad is then an experience of another space, or also of a new freedom and of a singular otherness. The two can meet in unthought-of practices, made up of sinuous pathways and subtle weaving.

History and travel: The other in the Arab historiography of yesterday and today, Bencherki Benmeziane (Oran University)

The dimension of travel, of nomadism is constitutive of the Arab experience, historically and anthropologically. Ibn Kaladun who first emphasized the theoretical challenge seeing in it an historical phenomenon and by defining the methodological conditions of any historical knowledge: the necessity to travel in order to gather and verify information. The work of Ibn Battoûta is in this respect exemplary; it overlaps discourse concerning knowledge of the other and the construction of a discourse of self-knowledge. This comparative anthropology describes and analyses the culinary practices, care of the body and marriage rites in India and in the Maldives. It confers a particular importance to the practices of hospitality that have two function: the shared recognition of otherness and the distribution of goods. Nevertheless for the author the humanism of shared knowledge has been undermined by contemporary developments. These involve the diffusion by global media of the disembedded images of the other and the effect of nationalistic teaching re-establishing borders and creating lack of understanding.

The stranger – the person, the appearance, the symbol – a message that makes sense?, Emmanuel Nal (Tours University)

The stranger makes us uneasy by virtue of his origin, ignorance about him and the threat that he represents but he can also represent promise and enrichment. The author reviews the polysemy of the term from its Latin and Greek genesis : peregrinus, hostis, hospes, xenos. The host or guest the one who welcomes or who is welcomed. He is the mediator who allows and weaves new modes of relationship, the enactment of our otherness, our different sides, the astonishment prompted by the encounter, its expectation….The combination of these characteristics allows us to embrace the structure of pedagogy that is nomadic, unstable (the sophists) rather than sedentary and centripetal (Isocrates) or yet again the openness to another divergent point of view (the discourse of Diothime).

The strangeness of the formation of the self, Didier Moreau (Paris VIII University)

The formation of the self is an educative process the strangeness of which has been questioned since the start of philosophy of education. It is a matter of understanding how a person who is formed himself becomes another in order to become himself, that is to say, how this other is reduced to become the same. Two perspectives suggest themselves, that of the expulsion of alterity into exteriority, or that of a welcome for the otherness of the world in the interiority of the person in the process of formation. The first process triggers a schema of conversion, the second that of a metamorphosis. It is this that is questioned in this context through its expression in Stoic thought, in Cicero’s reading of Cato and in Seneca. It is others who shape us, when they become spirits. The question, taken up by Modernity no longer possesses the clarity that ancient humanism had bestowed upon it. Herder, by the concept of Emporbildung, tries to reconcile self-formation with the formation of humanity, against the compelling vision of a conversion of a people unaware of the force of a more valuable civilization.

Studies : Henri Marion and ‘equality in difference’, Nicole Mosconi (Paris X University)

Like all the Republican reformers of the Third Republic, Henri Marion was a rationalist, and in order to challenge the dominance of the Church on the education of girls he defends the principle of a scientific education based on psychology. It is also necessary to determine theoretically the psychological ‘nature’ of woman from which can be derived her ‘destination’ (of submissive spouse) and her ‘function’ (essentially maternal). But this must also be placed in the context of the Republican principle of equality between the sexes; if it cannot be civic and political, the only equality possible will be ‘moral’ equality. It will be necessary therefore to ensure through the school solid, rigorous public and secular instruction that will enable them to bring up their children ‘well’ because it is women who have power over ‘customs’. If Marion supports coeducation in primary school, girls and boys should afterwards be separated because each sex requires a different curriculum. Peasant and working class girls therefore will receive an education adapted to their future social position in vocational schools and the EPS while middle class girls will be prepared for their role as wives and mothers in lycées with a limit of five years schooling to prevent access to the baccalauréat. Access by girls to university is not desirable, indeed it is dangerous for social order.

Studies : Study two: An educational utopia in Emilia Romagna, Emilie Dubois (Rouen University)

Utopia and education form a somewhat strange duo, both necessary for their co-existence. The town of Reggio Emilia is recognized for the alternative system of early years’ education that it established in its municipal schools since 1963. It maintains with these two notions a special ink that it is interesting to examine in order to show how they come to co-exist in the daily life of children, educators and parents. This is required by the past, the present but also by an optimistic future. Utopian ideals seem to occupy a recognized place in the pre-school experience of the children of Reggio and are at the heart of the philosophy and pedagogic practices that inform it.