Issue n°51

Opening, Catherine Goldenstein

Moral Chronicle: Joseph Marie de Gérando, Du perfectionnement moral ou de l’éducation de soi-même  (On moral perfecting or of the education of oneself), Text selection and presentation by Didier Moreau

Joseph Marie de Gérando (1772-1842) is a philosopher who remains little known in France. He made a major contribution to pedagogy: he cofounded the Society for elementary instruction (1815), which advocated peer teaching and the instruction of adults. Gérando interprets a neo-stoic concept of self-perfecting, drawn from the cura sui, which he links to a philosophical theory of knowledge to posit the notion of spontaneous education, which is the source for lifelong education. This perspective deeply influenced Emerson in the United States, The text presented here is the first chapter of his 1824 work On moral perfecting or of the education of oneself.

Notion: Autonomy, Philippe Foray

Autonomy, which is defined in this work, as the capacity to act by oneself, to choose for oneself, and to think for oneself, is a much needed individual resource. The development of such resource is dependent on socialisation and the political context, which are both enabling factors. Autonomy is one of the necessary goals of education for any society, which, as our (French?) society, cannot reach a consensus as to the goals of education. “Autonomy education” is not solely undertaken in school settings, but in all settings where education takes place. The reflexion about autonomy reminds us of the importance of considering the whole of educational experiences.

Report: Readings and uses of Paul Ricœur: Narrative identity and transmission

Presentation, Hubert Vincent

The increasingly fragile “narrative function” and the impasses for the subject, Ilaria Pirone

Following Paul Ricœur’s narrative thread, the author analyses some impasses in the “narrative imagination” of children and adolescents as so many expressions of the increasingly fragile “narrative function” typical of our contemporaneity. For the author, these difficulties suggest that the narrative changes and alters, while the fictional function at the heart of existence, our narrative need, persists.

Between meaning and structure : Paul Ricoeur and the debate on literature, par Bertrand Johanet

The paper reflects on the ways in which Paul Ricœur contributed to renewing high-school literature studies; at stake, on a didactic level, lay a better understanding of literature as a teaching subject for teachers, and a diversification of the ways students could get into texts. The late 90s dispute between the Ancients and the Moderns ended in 2000 with the reshaping of literature as a school subject. While meaning constituted the central axis, the methods of analysis inherited from the structural school were retained as relevant tools to delineate the meaning of works and texts. Paul Ricœur’s contribution mainly resides in his renewed reading of the seminal input of narrative semiotics in the light of Aristotelian thinking on discourse and literary genres.

Narrative identity: an “offshoot” of substance ?, Didier Moreau

The notion of narrative identity minted by Paul Ricœur is largely favoured today for social sciences as it appears as an ideal alternative eluding the essentialist theories of the subject, while also rendering their deconstruction unnecessary. We examine here the genesis of this notion through Ricœur’s reading of Heidegger and his mobilisation of the pragmatic Turn as a mirror to the Heideggerian Kehre. We proceed to explain the historicity it implies and in our synthesis we establish the often underestimated difference between Ricœur’s (distinctive) narrative subject and modes of subjectivation in Foucault’s work. We finally analyse Ricœur’s mise en abyme of narrative identity in his reading of Proust, in response to Deleuze’s. There may not be any way out of the aporia noted by Plotin concerning the subject in formation : permanent substance or metamorphoses of the self in the making.

Transmitting the past, François Dosse

Paul Ricœur demonstrates that the transmission of the past does not consist in a sanctification of a fixed past. The past configured itself in possibles which did occur, but some of its potentialities may nurture a present now severed from any future project. In doing so Ricœur breaks away from the trend which prevailed till then and which consisted in fatalising the past in a strict causal system to open it again to possibles which did not occur and the construction of a horizon of expectation.

What’s the reality of the historical past ?, Jeffrey Andrew Barash

In recent decades, the question of the reality of the historical past has risen to the forefront of analysis, not only in historiography or historical theory but also in literary criticism. This question has been raised in different forms by a tendency that has come to expression in these disciplines to blur the distinction between historical representation and fictional narrative, and casts suspicion on the historian’s claim to uncover a measure of “reality” of the historical past. This article examines Paul Ricœur’s critical response, in different periods of his work, to the challenge raised by historical skepticism. It focuses on how Ricœur, after a period of initial criticism of Heidegger’s philosophy in his works of the 1980s and early 1990s, appropriates in his late work Memory, History and Forgetting, a number of key concepts that Heidegger proposed in Being and Time and reformulates them to buttress his theory of the reality of the historical past. The aim of this article is less to provide an exegesis of Ricœur’s conception of historical understanding, than to critically examine the theory of the “reality” of the historical past that he developed during different periods of his work.

Traduction and alterity in Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy: educational issues, Marie Vergnon

The issue of translation spanned Ricœur’s work. He began to study it from the 1950’s until the publication of a book given to this problem in 2004 which is entitled Sur la traduction. Although he never directly put translation into perspective with educational issues, Ricœur’s thoughts about mankind, alterity, cultures and linguistic hospitality in this context echo in educational concerns highlighted by Ricœur himself, and pave the way for reflections regarding the ethic of relationship to others and the role of education.

Note on initiative, Hubert Vincent

Paul Ricœur’s work certainly abounds in a whole corpus of notions which may prove to be invaluable for thinking about education. Among them is the notion of initiative. This article first traces its contours for itself, while retaining some aspects of the conceptuality or “system” of this philosophy. Then the article turns to a central aspect of this notion which it develops with references to Montaigne, Alain and de Deligny.

Studies: Bertrand Russell a philosopher of education, Nicole Mosconi

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), famous for his philosophy of mathematics and knowledge, is also renowned for his moral and political philosophy, of which his philosophy of education is a central piece. I will focus on his two books, On education, especially in early childhood (1926), which deals with the education of the young child and champions, with schooling, a renovated school instruction, and Education and the social order (1932), which is a broader political reflection on what “education in a modern society” (which is both industrial and democratic) should be. I will first examine the moral and political philosophy at the root of philosophy of education, then his conception of the relations between freedom and authority in education, and more broadly, of the relations between education and society. Finally, I will examine his pro feminist views in favour of co-education, co-instruction and equal sexual education of the two sexes.

Studies: Freedom of conscience : destiny for a laic utopia, Louise Ferté

What is freedom of conscience? This article addresses the meaning and uses of this principle born at the time of the Reformation and which resurfaced in the nineteenth century as the school system was being secularised. Studying secularism in the light of this Protestant principle enables us to consider secularism as a means to call into question the school institution as a whole. A secularism that frees conscience, or at least safeguards freedom, does not only refer to the institutional organisation of relations between the religions and the state. It also allows for reflections concerning the political, religious and pedagogic forms apt to fulfil the Republic’s self-imparted mission since 1789: the emancipation of the citizens within a republican common.