Call for Papers
Bachelard as Pedagogue: Educating for Novelty
Alberto Filipe ARAUJO (email@example.com )
and Rogério DE ALMEIDA (firstname.lastname@example.org )
For this upcoming issue of Bachelard Studies, we invite a reflection on the question of “pedagogy” based on the work of Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962)—aware that his works Lautréamont (1939), La Philosophie du non (1940), Le Rationalisme appliqué (1949) and La Poétique de la rêverie (1960) constitute an epistemological core of great importance to grasp the wide-ranging importance of this theme. By virtue of their hermeneutic and heuristic value, these works indeed signal the transition from a new “pedagogy of no” (Georges Jean) to an education for the imagination as well as for a scientific culture.
For these reasons, we would like to point out, at the outset, that there is a profound difference between “educating the imagination” and “educating for the imagination”: in this regard, how to ignore, among other issues, the contribution of La Poétique de la rêverie (1960), which defends an entire pedagogical perspective receptive to the “power of images” (René Huyge)? And how to overlook some passages from Lautréamont (1939) which urge us to read that “this immediate biological synthesis, despite its insufficiency, clearly shows the need to animalize that lies at the origins of imagination. The primary function of the imagination is to produce animal forms. (...) Primitive poetry, which must create its own language and occur contemporaneously with the creation of a language, can be thwarted by already learned language. Poetic reverie quickly becomes learned reverie, and turns into academic reverie. One must get rid of books and schoolmasters in order to rediscover poetic primitiveness” ?
In the second place, it is important not to forget the extent to which Le Rationalisme appliqué (1949) contributed to reinforcing the pedagogical ideas of the New Education, well-known to Gaston Bachelard both from the points of view of scientific culture or scientific knowledge, and from the standpoint of rationalism (teaching and taught). In the aforementioned work we can, in fact, find some elements close to the analyses of certain theorists and pedagogues—such as Adolphe Ferrière, who wrote a sort of manifesto of the New Education entitled Transformons l’école (1974). We are convinced that Bachelard, like Ferrière, wanted to transform the school, that is, to contribute to its modification by resorting, for instance, to a dialogical pedagogy and a teacher-pupil dialectic. The author was clearly against a mutilating education within which pupils had to live in constant fear of the scissors of rhetorical censorship in the hands of their teachers. In Lautréamont (1939) Bachelard had already wondered about this danger: “How could an arbitrary education, in which the professor ‘feeds with confidence on the blood and tears of the adolescent’, fail to leave inexpiable grudges in the heart of the youngster?” . Years later, in Le Rationalisme appliqué (1949), he would develop at length his notion of a dialogical pedagogy: “The man consecrated to scientific culture is an eternal schoolboy. School is the highest model of social life, and to remain a schoolboy must be the secret desire of a master [recalling the Discat a puero magister adage that the master teaches the pupil, which, according to Daniel Hameline, is the keystone of the New Education]. (...) Scientists go to one another’s school. The master-pupil dialectic is often reversed. (...) Here we find elements of a dialogical pedagogy whose power or novelty we cannot even begin to fathom unless we take an active part in the Scientific City”. The analysis of science, which Gaston Bachelard taught at the school of Bar-sur-Aube, is thus renewed through recourse to the psychology of the formation of the scientific spirit (cultural history and individual formation), including a psychology of the school institution and, subsequently, of the laboratory. From this perspective, the author takes care to highlight the role of psychological obstacles to abstract knowledge—obstacles attributed to the imaginative projections of the subject.
In the context of a dialogical pedagogy, it is therefore legitimate to ask: how can educators and pedagogues enhance the positive aspects of the creative imagination in their educational practice?
How to reconcile it with the demands of a rational (scientific) culture, proper to the logic of school learning, that is, to the pedagogical relationship?
In this spirit, and recognizing the value of the set of works mentioned above, we wish to draw attention to the implications of a “pedagogy of no” (Georges Jean), indebted to the Philosophie du non (Gaston Bachelard), in order to lay the foundations of a “New Pedagogical Spirit”. Let us here recall Bruno Duborgel, whose reflection proposed to form an imaginative being capable of living around the two constituent poles of our psychic life (day and night poles)—in other words, a being capable of living on the way to a “double culture”: one consecrated to rationality, approached through history, epistemology and the psychology of sciences (under the influence of the animus); and the other one consecrated to imagination, particularly to reverie vis-à-vis the world and artistic creations, including writing (under the influence of the anima). For imagination—certainly the more individual faculty—is invited to get rid of those cognitive and psychoanalytical obstacles (cultural knowledge, super-ego, etc.) that impoverish the metaphor-images, as well as to unleash its creative force, following the desire and the will to novelty, at the complex intersection of the unconscious, the cogito and the super-ego. In both cases, it is a matter of transforming the spirit.
It will be possible to approach these two themes through different questions which represent many ways of studying Bachelard’s contribution to education and pedagogy:
a) How do we learn to think in scientific terms through a meditation on “the school”? What are the cognitive procedures to be used? What does active resistance to prime images consist of? What are the possible resources of psychoanalysis and epistemological profiling (etc.)? What can we expect from some of Bachelard’s works to reinforce this same resistance?
b) The act of teaching, Bachelard reminds us, “is not as easily detached as one might think from the consciousness of knowledge”. Does the same hold true for teacher-pupil dialectical relationships, their patterns, their pathology? How can we articulate the empathy of dialogue and the energy of transformation? To what extent is Gaston Bachelard the bearer of a non-authoritarian pedagogy? Or is he, rather, a strong advocate of a dialogical pedagogy?
c) How to induce imaginative creativity? To what extent will an artist, in order to create, dare to produce something different—that is, original, genuinely new, and creative. To what extent does such an artist need to resort to the trilogy of tranquility, solitude, and silence? If the poet Lautréamont maintains that “the Word is violence, Genesis is hell, creation is brutality,” Bachelard, for his part, refocuses the reader’s attention by stating that “the preliminary tasks for a pedagogy of the imagination” consist in “replacing the philosophy of action, which is too often a philosophy of agitation, with a philosophy of rest, and then with a philosophy of the consciousness of rest, the consciousness of solitude, the consciousness of forces in reserve. (...) In this way, imagination will be restored to its function of trial, risk, imprudence, creation”. We question the role and limits of the dreamer’s Cogito in the psychosocial history of the creator, by asking: how can the artist, and even the poet, deal with their own phantasms and confront the artifices of imagination?
d) How can we account for the scientific imagination? Is the teaching of mathematics, with its “magical delights” and its “wicked Reason”, related to the function of imagination as suggested in Lautréamont? When we read Lautréamont we suspect that the poetic spirit and the mathematical spirit can coexist in the same subject, in this case in the figure of the poet: “Given its specific culture, a mathematical soul can have multiple, delicate, contradictory tastes”. So we ask ourselves: to what extent can mathematical souls be reconciled with poetic souls? We think that Bachelard answers this question as follows: “In short: a personal mathematical culture, a self-confident poetry, a verb with precise sonorities, a power of poetic induction proven by the long influence of the work: is this not a body of evidence that can attest to the integrity of a spirit?” .
e) What are the conditions for innovating and transforming poetic imagery? What are the obstacles of cultural rationality to the imaginary, the critique of knowledge in metaphor? In this regard, we recall a passage from Lautréamont: “In a simpler way, it is in the study of the deformation of images that the measure of poetic imagination will be found. One will see that metaphors are naturally linked to metamorphoses and that, in the realm of the imagination, the metamorphosis of being is already an adaptation to the imagined environment. One will be less surprised at the importance in poetry of the myth of metaphors and animal fabulation [...]. Then the spirit is free for the metaphor of metaphor”.
f) In the context of a dialogical philosophy, how can teaching-rationalism and taught- rationalism contribute to the enrichment of a dialogical pedagogy, where the teaching of the master amazes the disciple, and the latter is able in turn to become “the master’s master” ?
g) Can one identify the pedagogical virtues common to reason and poetry in Bachelard’s work, especially in Le nouvel esprit scientifique (1934), La Formation de l’esprit scientifique (1938), Lautréamont (1939), La Philosophie du non (1940), Le Rationalisme appliqué (1949), La Poétique de la rêverie (1960), while not forgetting the books dealing with the four elements?
h) How does negation (“saying no”) become a pedagogical matrix for a “pedagogy of no” (Georges Jean) directly inspired by Bachelard’s work Philosophie du non (1940)? And to what extent can this pedagogy contribute to the dialogue between reason and imagination?
i) How is it possible to alternate or establish a dialectic between science (logos-animus-concept) and poetics (mythos-anima, poetic image), while being aware that these are “two disciplines which are difficult to balance” (Bachelard)? In this context, how to foster the identity of each of the two poles (diurnal-masculine and nocturnal-feminine) and their complementarity? This is precisely one of the challenges, among others, that we face today.
j) In what way is it possible to describe “a human being’s life within twenty-four hours”? What role does the diurnal animus / nocturnal anima pair play in the formation of a human being’s character and temperament as a complex whole?
To sum up, it is possible to say that the questions of the distribution and transmission of the contents of spirit, and the conditions of a transformation of the subject, through the other or the self, are at the heart of Gaston Bachelard’s philosophy. The philosopher clearly distinguishes a specific pedagogy from science related to good school and laboratory practices. But while the imagination must be supervised, it must also be stimulated, during and through reverie and artistic creation. Does this not constitute a paradox, or at least an educational ambivalence? Yet, are not the obstacles to rational innovation and aesthetic creation analogous? How best, then, to educate the two poles of spirit in the same human being?
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 Bachelard, G., Lautréamont, Paris: Jose Corti 1995, pp. 51, 53-54. All English translations of Bachelard’s works in this CFP are ours. Nonetheless, published translations will be noted (wherever applicable) as a reference for Anglophone readers. (Cf. Lautréamont, Eng. tr. Robert Dupree, Dallas, TX: Pegasus Foundation, 1986, pp. 27, 29).
 Lautréamont, cit, pp. 65-66. (Cf. Eng. trans., Lautréamont, cit., p. 36.)
 Bachelard, G., Rationalisme appliqué, Paris : PUF, 1969, p. 23
 Rationalisme appliqué, cit. p. 12.
 Lautréamont, cit., p. 43. (Cf. Eng. trans., Lautréamont, cit. p. 23).
 Lautréamont, cit., pp. 154-155. (Cf. Eng. trans., Lautréamont, cit., p. 90).
 Lautréamont, cit., p. 92 (Cf. Eng. trans., Lautréamont, cit, p. 52).
 Lautréamont, cit., p. 93. (Cf. Eng. trans. Lautréamont, cit., p. 53).
 Lautréamont, cit., p. 96. (Cf. Eng. trans, Lautréamont, cit. p. 54.)
 Lautréamont, cit., pp. 55-56, 155 (Cf. Eng. trans., Lautréamont, cit., pp. 30, 90.).
 Rationalisme appliqué, cit., p. 23 .
 Bachelard, G., L'engagement rationaliste, Paris, PUF 1972, p. 47: “It seems to me, therefore, that if one wished to provide a holistic anthropology with philosophical or metaphysical bases, one would and should only have to describe the life of a human being within twenty-four hours”.