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Négation et Diffraction de la volonté en éducation

Abstract : Between 1880 and 1920 the academic institution of France, pedagogues and professors of pedagogy, teachers writing school reports and worried parents, have called upon the concept of will to explain failure where there is a lack of it, to galvanise energy where it is present and to raise the spirit in the field of asceticism. At the same time, the very conditions for the extinction of the concept of will have been growing quietly, at the margins of the education community. The Modern School Movement, from conference to conference, have been loosening the grip on this debilitating concept. Edouard Claparède suggests the ‘dewilling’ of will. The echo of Jean-Jacques Rousseau defending the blossoming of a rediscovered childhood, adds further weight to the idea of the fading out of the notion of will. How long before the question of will becomes no longer relevant? How can this contradiction between the omnipresent subject of will and its disappearance be explained? There are two approaches: the first analyses will itself, the second describes the educative practices where will plays a role or those where it is absent. The inquiry analyses the semantic components of the word, from its translation in Greek or Latin to French. Alongside this, it investigates the concept behind the word: its distinguishing features, the description of its modalities and its ontological constitution, describing the nature and the elements that make up an action. Four dimensions of will are identified: effort, intention, decision and strength. These dimensions clearly refer to epistemic virtues, the logic of action and the concept of what it is to be human. Put another way, to which anthropological system does will, as a strength, correspond? And in its absence, what idea of human behaviour do we conceive? On the other hand, if will is intention and decision, can it not be assumed that it comes from the logic of action, along with its opposite, akrasia. Finally, to identify will in terms of effort, is to revisit the epistemic virtues of studiousness, curiosity and attention, stating what they are and how to develop them. Another aspect that deserves consideration: will, or at least its opposite, laziness, calls into play the metaphysical bases underpinning human existence. This analysis correlates if not to the educative practices, archival material not often existing, at least to the theories or accounts of practices to be found in the myriad literary genres. Firstly, Célestin Freinet who criticised the idea of will as a moral value, but maintained the idea of effort, emphasing perhaps the notion of work as a liberating force, as an expression of life. Then Piaget, working within the school of evolutionary theory, who transforms will into an opposite of the path of least resistance. This is followed by Maine de Biran and Pestalozzi who almost founded a school together, the former identifying effort as the principal characteristic of man, the later hesitating between the blossoming of the individual that happens outside of will and the essential limits of any given action. Decartes conceives will as a decision which he places at the centre of his theory that man is characterised by generosity, which he defines as the ability to be reasonable. Lastly Dewey and Kilpatrick who substitute will for interest, opposing the idea of education as a game and Herbart’s idea that nothing comes from the student, everything is imposed from external sources. The journey finishes with a bringing together of the concepts of will and certain anthropological features, the aim of which is to draw upon logic where will is called upon in a situation of personal need or is eliminated, presuming that the individual’s inner life is left unexpressed. The imaginary reporting to a fictitious conference between the various educational philosophers would allow the sharing and reformulating of each other’s perspectives along with the investigation of their various styles of thought...
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Jean Praz. Négation et Diffraction de la volonté en éducation. Education. Université de Lyon, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LYSE2025⟩. ⟨tel-01643673⟩

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