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Pedagogical utopia and childhood sovereignty

Philippe Ivernel  |  2010 / n° 21 |  janvier 2011


In the quotations and notes which immediately precede with no apparent contradiction the Marx file in Walter Benjamin’s Passages, the author draws the reader’s attention to the instruction and education given to children in the famous experimental phalanx. He stresses from the outset that the nature from which the fourierist pedagogy draws its inspiration is made up of a thousand fibers, and that accordingly, starting from the passions and their possible combinations, they open the way to as many possible extensions and evolutions. To take but one well known example, from greediness to gastronomy via the cooking activities, all of them being otherwise related to agricultural and industrial activities, the child proceeds « naturally », according to Fourier, towards a polytechnical training likely to supersede not only the division of labour, but also and above all the separations existing between labour, experimentation, and game. Benjamin is obviously sensitive to the dynamics of the child’s desire (whether he is trying to catch the moon or a ball) and to his reproductive gestures, as opposed to moralist teachings seen as a threatening abstraction. The pedagogical utopia refered to here is on the contrary exclusively conceived as rooted in its relationship with practise. Eventually it can provide the starting point for a story unfolding (in Benjamin’s writings as we know, but also indirectly in Fourier’s), in which childhood reigns supreme as the age of beginnings, and renewed beginnings.

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Notions : Education - Enfance - Gastronomie - Pédagogie

Personnes : Benjamin, Walter

Pour citer ce document

IVERNEL Philippe , « Pedagogical utopia and childhood sovereignty », Cahiers Charles Fourier , 2010 / n° 21 , en ligne : (consulté le 24 septembre 2017).

Philippe Ivernel

Enseignant chercheur (département d’allemand de l’Université Paris-8, Centre d’études théâtrales de l’Université catholique de Louvain, Laboratoire de recherche du CNRS sur les Arts du spectacle), Philippe Ivernel est l’auteur de travaux sur Benjamin, Brecht, l’Expressionnisme, le théâtre d’agit-prop historique, le théâtre d’intervention après 1968, ainsi que de traductions de l’allemand (côté théâtre et côté philosophie). De Walter Benjamin, il a récemment traduit Je déballe ma bibliothèque (Rivages, 2000), la Correspondance avec T. W. Adorno (La fabrique, 2002) ou les Essais sur Brecht (La fabrique, 2003). A venir, un recueil d’écrits de Walter Benjamin : Enfance (Payot-Rivages).

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