Western Values, the meaning of education and globalizationat the end of the 20th century
Communication au Colloque annuel de l'Association Asiatiqued'Éducation Comparée (A.A.E.C.), 7-8-9 octobre 1998, Beijing(République Populaire de Chine), Institut d'Éducation Internationaleet Comparée (I.E.I.C.), Université Normale de Beijing.
Professor René Barbier, University of Paris 8 (Educational Sciences,Research Center on Social Imagination and Education)(translation : MmeArlette Weichert) (1)
The conference paper that I propose to present today, crosses a rangeof disciplines, from cultural anthropology, sociology and political economy,to psychology, moral philosophy and comparative education. Transdisciplinaryby choice, in line with the way we are developping the notion of crossdisciplinestudies ("Transdisciplinarité" in french) with other internationalscientists (NICOLESCU, 1996) (2), under the name of "Transversal approach"("approchetransversale" in french) (Barbier, 1997) it seeks to clarify, from an educationalpoint of view, the values that are very specifically attributed to westerncountries faced with the globalization.
On a wider perspective, transdisciplinary studies lead to a conceptionof the meaning of education which articulates two approaches that are bothopposite and complementary: on the one hand; academic knowledge and practicalskills , and on the other hand personal, intimate, spiritual and experiencedrelationships in the world (R. Barbier, l'éducateur comme passeurde sens)(3).
In this it is specificaly philosophical, if we agree with contemporaryphilosopher André Comte-Sponville, that philosophy: " is a radicalinquiry movement, like the starting or restarting of reasoning : that philosophyis a new thinking, a free and liberating thinking ...
Philosophy is the dawn starting all over again of the thinking, wichnever stops rising -the pale light of reasoning- from the bottom of ourtwilight" (COMTE-SPONVILLE, 1996, P.7).
1. The question of values in education
Today, the question of values and of ethics in education is a key questionfor us, as it is for other scientists in the world (PETERS, 1996; NAUD,MORIN, 1978). If the role of education, as thought the sociologist EmileDürkheim, is a necessary transmission of socio-cultural heritage fromone generation to another, we question ourselves more and more, but notnecessary correctly : what makes values in this world and what is worthtransmitted to our children.
But, what is a value ?
From this perspective many points need to be discussed:
- When all is said and done, what is the meaning of "value" and "ethics"? How should one talk about values in this period of globalization ?
- Is it possible to identify "central values" considered essential tobe transmitted in the contemporary educational process and could'nt thesevalues be summerised in some very simple ones (to change what is possibleto be changed in this world, to remain solidary to accept what is inevitable). Is it possible to talk about the "Ethical problematic" in this respect(AXELOS, 1985)?
The question of values and ethics
Straightaway we must specify that the concept of a "value" changes accordingto cultures. It remains to be seen whether there are universal values ornot ? Is every culture trying to build its own values as universal ones? In the West , "civilised" people have been contrasted with the "uncivilised".In the East, "the Middle empire" with the "barbarians".
A philosophical question.
Western philosophers have always tried to understand the notion of Value.So did the Chinese "Men of learning", through their history of thinking(CHENG, 1997). According to the Greeks, value is merged into Being in thenotion of Good: be it Physical well-being (accoding to Aristippe de Cyrène,Socrate's disciple) or the harmony of the personnality. Socrates admits"no one is nasty voluntarily". The Chinese philosopher Mencius speaks ofthe inherent kindness of mankind. The value, arising from action, coincideswith being, that is obtained from knowledge as representation. From detachmentand from contemplation, the stoic intellectualism leads to a project ofmorality which aims to remain in accordance with the natural order in orderto overcome pain by distinguishing things which depend on us and otherthings which do not (Epictète). More than ever, Greek philosophyand Chinese thinking meet each other. Later, Spinoza proposed the unionof the thinking soul and the whole nature as the supreme knowledge. ForJean-Jacques Rousseau, as for Bergson later on, the value is an intuitivedata of transcendal origin. It is to be noticed that Rousseau, in the rationalistand measured Age of Enlightenment, with his hostility against the poeticspirit, is considered to be relatively marginal and the precursor of Romanticism.He advocates letting oneself be enlighted by "the lights that enlightensthe heart", as he writes it in l'Emile, because we possess intuition, infalliblejudge of good or evil. Bergson will develop the thinking of Rousseau byspeaking of aspiration as a product of intuition by which man opens himselfto the duration, the creative generosity of God (BERGSON, 1932).
Emmanuel Kant and Fichte judgment consider value as given by an intuitionof general will, where the moral obligation starts. The value is firstof all in the intention, dependant on the will, which governs the act.For Max Scheler, disciple of Edmund Husserl, value is given by the immediatejudgement of preferential evidence. What caracterises a moral value forScheler, is first of all the way it is related prior to any experiencea priori. Even if the value is included in facts, it is relatively independantof the real-life content or of the rational process. The experience ofa moral value is pure emotion a priori.
For Arthur Schopenhauer the value is in relation to feelings, particularlythat of a pity and pain for Others. Justice and charity, fondamental vertuesof Ethics, contradicts the nature and the world occurs the "living-will",the selfish struggle and pain. Frederic Nietzsche rises above all moralityin the name of the Ethics of Zarathoustra and Emile Durkheim mingles thevalue for its social nature and creates a moral sociologism (in "l'Éducationmorale") (DAVAL et GUILLEMAIN, 1964).
But the result of this philosophical thinking leads a statement : Whatman did unconsciously in the past and in the illusion of submitting himselfto what is independant of his creative act, he must do it consciously today.This project of re-evaluation of all values leads to a rejection of allprevious values because they lost every fundament when unfounded appearedtheir pretention to an objective validity. For Existentialism, man is anunfathomal of feedom. He is obliged to base his choice without reasonning.This attitude towards the void is call Existenz which can be genuine ornot according to its acceptation of the void. Anyway it is based on a fundamentalvalue : the absolute character of the finite knowledge of human Finite.So every culture carries essential values.
In that constellation of philosophical approaches of value, arises moreparticularily, the question of the teaching of values in a pluralist andliberal society which denies any idea of "state morality" as it is noticedby Jean-Claude Forquin (FORQUIN, 1994). Let us consider our own definition,particularly what we call "ultimate values" and how they refer to education.
I call "value" that what, in the name of which, we accept to risk somethingfor something we have our heart set on and "ultimate value" what standsas an essential risk (lose one life, life beloved ones, lose vital socialobjects) (4). We easily understand that "ultimate values" are very limitedin number. Any one who accepts to look at himself would agree with thisfact. We touch to our ultimate values when we feel that the meaning wegive to life is in danger. In a certain way every man carries specificultimate values but I would call this a "Person": the individual integratedin the flow of the world, who has discovered that some of his ultimatevalues are or can be common, after discussion, to the whole human community.The personalist philosophy of Emmanuel Mounier has largely enlightenedthe difference between individualism, anarchism and personalism. Accordingto Mounier, the person immerses in nature. He is indissolubly both bodyand spirit. For that reason, he offers resistance to materialistic as wellas spiritualistic. But man transcends nature by its creative dynamic andcomplex, it is the first step of universal personalization process (MOUNIER,1967).
The defense of ultimate values of a person when attacked of a personby his surrounding is what he estim to be his attachment to life that isto say his implication.
Is it, as thought the philosopher and political scientist CorneliusCastoriadis (CASTORIADIS, 1975), that some values are created by the socialImagination of a certain period and resist to decay of degenerescence,as was the invention of the democratic idea in ancient Greece. Could thesame process apply to the invention of love in Christianism as a socialmovement once and for all in the spirit of humanity even if it is provisionallyrealized ans through a scapegoat (GIRARD, 1974, 1978) ?
Could the revolutionary ideals of Equality Freedom and Brotherhood bebetter achieved in the history of nations and people ? Are all values fleetingand of short-term ? Do they constitute the hard core of any culture therelativity of which we know, and which makes the difference between cultureand nature ? This point of view is basically philosophical and it determineslargely the attitude and the behaviour of every man towards life with twomajor risks:
- The radical pessimism and the idea that "brother will turn upon brother",in the up-to-dated line of Thomas Hobbes.
- The smug optimism that denies any evaluation of breaking off, thedistorsions, the gaps with an absolute ideal of purity and that we canfind in any dogmatism.
Often, we are not really able to commit oneself in favour of one oran other option. We cannot either accept an alteration of each of thosetwo options in the process of every day life, we lack dialectic and thisis the reason why we remain voiceless and without any project when confrontedwith the questions of contemporary youth.
Shall we not read again the writings of Men of Learning who, in China,knew how to articulate contradictions without denying any of their specificities,and let emerge the meaning of "blandness", a regulated balance of lifethrouhg which passes any wisdom (JULLIEN, 1991) ?
The inclination towards ultimate values leads to the question of ethics.
The question of ethics.
I call "ethics" an axiological congruence reduced to ultimate valuesof a subject (person, social group and a large human community) which allowshim to make a sense of his relationship to the world: sense would meanhere both radical significations, way of life and emergence of incorporatedsensitivity, in close contact with a permanent proof of reality.
From that angle, we agree with Claude Paquette, a canadian scientist,that "an ultimate value is very closely linked to an individual and tohis behavior. It is within the individual and it colours his daily movements... but on the other hand, it is worth mentionning that an individual valueis not static. It solidifies ot changes according to our real-life experience"(PAQUETTE, 1982, P.22).
For this author, it is necessary to differenciate the values of "preference"fromthe values of "reference". The first ones are choosen among a whole rangeof available values given by the social group and which highlight's them.There is a kind of link between individual and collectivity in this choice.
But the second group of values makes reference to the behavior of theindividual. They are integrated to the person and he is constituted bythem. They are at the same time more demanding and more committing towardsothers as well as to oneself. For Claude Paquette, eight criterions allowthe identification of a value:
- It is a choice for the individual.
- The individual knows the consequences of his choice of values.
- it can be in one's daily behaviour.
- It gives to his existence, meaning and diection.
- The individual is bound to it.
- The individual asserts it in public.
- The individual is publicly involved in activities which promote them.
- For the individual, there is a very strong interaction between hispersonal life and his professional life (P.31).
Any value seems to be coming from a combination of factors: a geneticheritage, a cultural heritage, an educative cell, harmonious personal experiencesand conflicting personal experiences. It is possible to make an axiologicalanalysis aiming to analyse oneself, through our routines, our gestures,our experiences, our coherences and incoherences, our reactions, our peers,our environment, our decisions, our uncertainties, our balances, our lackof balaces, our satisfactions and insatisfactions, our ambiguities...
This reflection is very important in Educational Sciences because, asOlivier Reboul, philosopher of education questions himself: "is it possibleto do sciences of education without taking into consideration its inherentvalues ? ... As sciences, they only decide on what is and not on what itought to be; and yet, the "be" they are concerned with, namely the educativefact, is at first sight an "ought to be" which includes, implicite or explicite,a scale of values." (REBOUL, 1989, P.96)
For Olivier Reboul, the scientificity regarding values is characterisedby three dimensions: objectivity, instrumentality and coherence. But appliedto education, this type of scientificity is not obvious, as the authormentions it. There is a considerable risk of falling into a kind of absolute"relativism" where the notion of value is diluted in individalistic indifferenceunder the pretext of being tolerant.
Ethics and morality
Let's distinguish the two concepts which are many times mixed up incommon langage. Morality is related to the practical necessity and is entirelylinked with cultural, economical, social and political horizons. Thereis a morality for Arapesh and a morality for Mundugumor, as we can finda morality for "socialist" societies and a morality of "capitalististic"societies. In China, the morality that prevails in Beijing or in Hong Kongprofelled by the modernization of economy is not the same as the one ofthe "Na ethny" those himalayan farmers who live without the notion of "father"and without real wedding as a dominant institution (Cai Hua, une sociétésans père ni mari. Les Na de Chine, PUF, 1997). On the contrary,ethics is the principle of morality. "the ethical commitment differs fromadherence to rules; it places us on a side other than prescriptions, exhortations,moral practices; to the point of being afraid of breaking thoses prescriptionsand those practices, of breaking down their effect of binding anxietieswhich lead them to make One, the One-Whole of the Me-Master, the One-Wholeof a City and of a State."( (IMBERT, 1987, P.7). Aristote in the "The NicomanecheanEthics" (L.II) showed the passage from êthos as a way of being normalyto éthos as a moral habit. The French psychonalyst Jacques Lacanmentions that Aristote considers éthos as a creation of habits thatmakes particular order, the microcosm, in conformity with universal order,the macrocosm (LACAN, 1986, P.31). Ethics is bound to the freedom of thesubject that meets the other in his life. It allows the individual to theprocess of personalization by the faculty of critically discretion accordingto what the world makes of him and what he wants to makes of the world.
A model of values in the western society.
We must go back to the sources of western society and pay attentionto the great values of the Republic coming from the French Revolution andfrom the Age of Enlightenment, since they have been very influent duringthe recent centuries in all the western countries, with a will of hegemonyin other countries.
Traditionally, the French Revolution of 1789 has imposed the idea, inEurope and in what will become the United States of America, of a triptychof values founding at the same time the universe of the person and of thesociety: Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood.
Originally, the free market, was based on a assumed harmonious linkof the three principles. Individual freedom would open the game of initiativesand competition coming from natural abilities of every actor, supposedto be basically rational. Everybody was hold to have "equal" rights toparticipate to the rules of the game. This was supposed, according to awhole range of synergies, to generate a real brotherhood between humanbeings.
A world and historical logic seemed to be on course, systematized byHegel, leading to a civilization that would carry humanity and progress.Every human being considered in his transcendance was an owner of a fragmentof the divine humanity and the concept of equality suggested reciprocity.Everyone could recognize himself in the other and brotherhood became thesecular version of the evangelic principles.
Indeed, Hegel had introduced violence as means of expression of theindividualism. The individual affirmation goes through a mortal fight withothers from which there would emerge a dialectic of the master and theslave. Associated to the "will-to-live" de Schopenhauer, this logic leadsto "will-to-power" of Nietzsche and to the reign of "Superman", easilyturned off to inhuman barbarity by his sister and the nazi ideologists.Later, the idealized benefits of individual freedom, two masters of suspcion,Marx and Freud, have seriously questionned the problem.
Any way, traditionally the ideals of the French Revolutionary gave riseto an extraordinary creative impulse in the West. As the results, the freemarket economy creates.an unprecedented progress in the economic culturaland social order but it also destroys the rural countryside way of living.The German philosophy of the XXth century, with Heidegger, will conveya kind of nostalgia the figures in distress of the sacralisation of nature,of the glorification of the craft industry, the rural mode of living, thatthe national-socialism has used to its own benefits.
The West knew for a long time how to conciliate man and developmentin spite of dangers of drifting into egoism. In Europe of Christendom,the Reform avoids the drift by reconsidering the virtues of gotten goodsused for acceptable means, a token of heaven 's favours. Max Weber showedthat protestantism, by its ethics, knew how to link it with the capitalismspirit. Philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment will make some correctionsby introducing individual egoism as a honorable incentive of human activityand capacities of creation, that are socially acceptable. Nevertheless,Morality seems to be more and more reduced to personal reflection whereascollective productive activity is sinking into immanence without transcendentalreference. As years passed this trend went on leading to almost a wholeautonomy at the end of the XXth century governed by the imperative of globalization.
3. Western values in globalization.
Approach of "globalization"
That's how Globalization calls a process of economic complexificationwhich, from one sector to another, imposes itself all over the world. Theword fascinates and causes anxiety. It presents all the characters of the"sacred" with its "mysterium fascinans" and its "mysterium tremundum",attraction and fear before the unknown, described by phenomenologists ofreligions (OTTO, 1969).
Ancient and continuous phenomenon, having peaks and back-lashes globalizationis marked by the development of the computerised communication. The globalizationof networks is a fact and works logically with universal standards.
The place of the Nation-state is put into question by globalization.The emergence of transnational planetary phenomenon (ecology, human rightdefense, communication by internet, etc.) and the world or the continentalmonetary regulations (UNO/G7/european union, etc.) lead to iidentification.We are going toward what Fernand Braudel has named "economy-world" (BRAUDEL,1979), existing since the XVIth and XVIIth century, it is today characterisedin an imperialistic way by the extension of the market mecanisms to allthe countries of the planet. What appears to be important nowadays is thefact that nation-states seem to be torn between the modernization linkedwith the globalization and the reinvention of the tradition. We are thenassisting to new contours of political community for which space is notlimited by territorial borders but are reconstructed according to entreprisestrategies, the good flows, population-shifting and effects of communication.
The countries of Pacific-Asia are particularly concerned by this typeof reorganization and are creating economic spaces of growth relativelyautonomous concerning political realities. Taking into consideration thetransnational networks constitute one of the major aspect of the comprehensionof international interdependence processes. Chine as well as India haveclose and complex relations with their diasporas and this explains mainlyinvestments in some regions and their economic takeoff.
The economic interdependance institutes a common culture connected withthe communication industries which extend their commodities in the directionof the elitist and globalized customers, city dwellers and opened to tourism.A new scale of cultural reference is being established worldwide in urbansocieties. More over, we are witnessing the emergence of a new social class,an "hyper world upper middle classes" ("hyperbourgeoisie") that lords itover the economic, social and cultural order of the planet (DUCLOS, 1998,P.16-17).
The influence of the "MacWorld culture" (Mac Donald, Coca Cola, Microsoft,IBM, Disneyland), over the reference values, is imposing itself all overthe world.
Nevertheless, according to Riccardo Petrella (PETRELLA, 1997), Professorat the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium), globalization might bean "infernal machine"
Based on the primacy of benefits and of the perfect freedom of actionof private enterprise, and based on the sovereignty of the so called selfregulatingmarket, globalization forsakes individuals, social groups, towns and regionsand even countries.
Far from optimizing material and immaterial ressouces of the planet,- and not even to mention here the sunject of human resources, globalizationcreates wastage and malfunction. Resources, individuals, social groups,towns and regions and even entire countries are abandoned or excluded:They are judged not to be profitable enough - by or for - the world machine.This explains therefore the absurd comparative competition with which theyare confronted in order to be "competitive", that is simply to survive(VIRILLIO, 1998, P.20). These analyses are well accordance with those ofother economists or sociologists. Particularly, Samir Naïr gives us,with Edgard Morin, a vast panorama, tragic enough, of the quasi inevitableprocess of globalization at the end of the XXth century (MORIN, NAÏR,1997) and Ignacio Ramonet speaks of "Geopolitics of chaos" (RAMONET, 1997).
Western family and globalization
The Western family, particularly the structure of the French family,is necessarily disrupted by the globalization phenomenon. Evelyne Sullerotdescribes the evolution of the family from the baby-boom after the secondwar until the baby-krach and the "unravelling" ("démaillage" infrench) of the family during these last years. Is the surviving familythe last bastion against the dismantling of the sociability structures? Are we rather witnessing to the "rising of dismay" (SULLEROT)?
In France, rural country life has been diminishing for a long time.The French family who used to be basically rural now becoming urban. Wewere aware of sharty-towns and slums in the fifties. The Abbé Pierrebecame famous in winter 1954, because of the charitable help he gave topeople sleeping in the street. Nevertheless, today in 1998, because ofthe economic crises, we still can find an increasing number of homeless( with no fixed abock) from all age-groups in the streets of big towns.From 1989 to 1996, the number of persons running minimal service income(RMI in french) has doubled. Although emergency assistance is given tohomeless persons, they rather choose to be confronted with the freezingcold rather than going to an appropriate center where they are sociallystigmatised.
The long term unemployed, single parent families, isolated women, youngpeople of the under 25 are particularly touched by that povertyin France.Average buying power went down 7 points from 1960 compared to 1996. Thejob seekers are 12 times in percentage in 1996 than 1960 (and 26 timesfor the under 25).
On the other hand, the disparity between incomes of the rich and thepoor has considerably increased.
Working conditions are changing : part time employment, interim, variableworking hours, change of business site are becoming the norm. For morethan ten years, new technologies, the new rules of management and flexibilityintended to reduce the crisis, have observable consequences on the typeof jobs and on the work organization in France. In 1982 there were 300000 fixed term contracts and this number has doubled. But then, this procedureconcerns the unqualified as well as the intermediate professions and executives.Many employees have no job security.
The "work civilization" is no more what it used to be. After peopleused to wish for it to happen, the reduction in the working hours hidesa disappointment: nothing more is expected from the job, except the basicessentials. We are more and more witnessing a crisis of working motivationespecially among unskilled young people.
In France, marriages are taking place later and are fewer than twentyyears ago. Since 1960, the number of divorces was increasing and stabilizedin the middle of 80 but very few people remarry. The traditional conjugalfamily, still revailing, coexists with other models : unmarried couples,with or without children, single parent families or "reconstructed". Youngpeople stay longer with their parents. When they leave their parents, theycohabit during a certain period before getting married when a baby is expected.In the working-class areas, grand-fathers play an important educationalrole because of the professional activity of the mother (Sciences humaines,1994, P.47).
Contrary to what could be expected, fathers reconstruct they remarrya new partner with children and in that second marriage they are more likelythan their ex-wives to have more children (6660.000 reconstructed familiesin 1990).
It is not easy to identify with enough correlations, the impact of thephenomena of globalization on the family structure in the West. Of course,School policies, parental activities, the lacking of job security playa major role. But the impact of the changing of values dictated by globalizationare transmitted by modern means of information. Information arrives athome by televisual means, tadvertisings, and more often by computerizedmeans (internet). This advent of predatory materialism by the globalisationand criminal economies opens the door to a generalised individual and unscupulousegoism. Nevertheless, we have to avoid hasty judgment. Quite often, changesin families have their origin in historical factors of greater continvancein time. Globalization can also present creative aspects, difficult toimagine in this chaotic period, as the scientist of CNRS, Zaki Laïdi,claims in "uneasiness in the civilisation" ("Malaise dans la mondialisation"(1998).
The important question of "violence" that haunts the western and easterncountries, and which encumbers the televisual production all over the world,has also impact on the family life. Children are very sensitive to violenceon television, even if investigations on this topic are controversial (FRYDMAN,1994, P.10-13). Because of the break down and the malfunction of the family(school failures, social and psychological inadaptation etc.), scientistsand university searchers studied and developped a new branch of human sciencesthat is expanding: Family Education (DURNING, 1995). But the economic aspectin the malfunctionings is not sufficiently taken into account...
Central educational values in today's world
The ultimate values of human beings are limited and have to be questionedin the perspective of globalization. I will only analyse three values thatI consider as central in education and urgent in our time : to change whatcan be changed. To remain solidary. To accept what is inevitable.
Those values are rather general orientations of the personal and collectivelife than strictly limited values. Actually, they are adjusted in variableways according to cultures and individuals. Therefore "changing what canbe changed" means ingeniosity and courage, in order to fight against theswelling of the Yang Tseu (in China, August 1998). "Standing solidary"means compassion and collective assistance to all the people who suffer(Famine in the south of Sudan in 1998).
Changing what can be changed
Compared to the East, if the modern and tragic Westhas has a specialvalue, that it is that maxim. The light of the Orient in this respect istoo often shaded by popular fatalism. But often it is a short-sighted viewof the oriental philosophy. The wiseman from India Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)has never preconized any fatalist attitude towards the world. As most ofthe non-dualistic wisemen in the Orient, he supports the idea that changemust begin by one'sself, if we want it to be realized outside, in the social,political and economic life. Western psychanalysis says the same thingtaking other postulates. The present request for "personal development"in the on-going education in the West, beyond a certain ideology of thepost-modern individualism reflects this aspiration for a change if we considercontemporary authors (Le Journal des psychologues, February 1990, PP.19-51).We find the same attitude in the old Chinese thinking that to follow theworld "flow", the "course" of things is not conceived as a fatality inregard to the "truth" that would endlessly escape and that we would berunning after. In Chinese thinking, contrary to western philosophy, theconcept of "truth" has no consistancy, compared to the flow of totalityas it has been shown with much relevance by the French sinologist FrançoisJullien (Jullien, Un sage est sans idée, ou l'autre de la philosophie,1998).
What can be changed comes from different ways of analyses: psychological,inter-relational, group, organizational, institutional according to fiveperspectives of an expert in education, Jacques Ardoino (ARDOINO, 1977).I would add to the awaking of man to the consciousness of his natural andcosmic environment. This ecological consciousness is fundamentally a sacredrelationship because it implies the realisation of both the dimension of"mysterium tremundum" and "mysterium fascinans" before nature and cosmos,but at the same time the determination to understand and resist of Chaosin order to organize a livable and connected world.
More than any other field of education, ecological education is absolutlyessential in any education. On this point of view, I agree with OlivierReboul : "If we agree on this, our axiom, that there is no education withoutvalues, can be then completed this way: there is no education without acertain sacredness"(REBOUL, 1989, P.112). We know, from Three Mile Islandand Tchernobyl, that we are under threat from the irresponsable entrepriseof some persons or social groups who pollute our planet, our "world-homeland"(MORIN,KERN, 1993). Bioethics shows us how the dangers of neurosciences and thegenetic manipulation can lead to catastrophy. Personal transformation deepensonself and makes oneself more thoughtful. But above all it allows us toenter into interlinking.
Interlinking ("Reliance" in French)
This is a key concept for our subject. From group dynamics known forits sessions that have gathered many ten thousands of persons, throughgroups of meetings and of massages which in the U.S.A. and in Europe havegathered many millions of individuals up till telematic networks, to popular,religious or sportive gatherings, it seems that there is a desire to meetother people, desire that is particularly difficult to satisfy in modernlife.
The concept of interlinking is widely elaborated by the Belgian sociologistMarcel Bolle de Bal at the end of the 70, working from a sociology of themedia. To the notion of connection, interlinking adds direction, finality,insertion in a system. It is by deprivations in the daily existentialitythat the concept of interlinking can be specified. To day human beingssuffer from having no link between them, onless it is via machines. "Pachinko"players in Japan who deal with their isolation by their concentration onthe slot machine in front of them is a case in point (Thierry RIBAULT,in Japan, Pachinko Folly), Le monde diplomatique, août 1998, P.4).
Missing from the vocabulary of human sciences, interlinking will berecognised and imposed as a concept by Marcel Bolle de Bal (BOLLE de Bal,1981, 1996) in Belgium. Interlinking has a double conceptual meaning:
- The act of linking or linking oneself: interlinking done, carriedout, , that is the act of interlinking;
- The result of that act: the experienced interlinking, that is thestate of interlinking. By to link as the author means "create or recreatelinks, establish or reestablish a relationship between a person and eithera system to which he belongs or one of its subsystems". From there, wecan dstinguish many dimensions of the interlinking: the interlinking betweena person and natural elements : heaven (religion), the world (roots), theuniverse. M. Bolle de Bal suggests in that case to use cosmic interlinking.The interlinking of a person and the many instances of his personality(Cid, ego, superego; body/spirit, thinking/feeling), that is to say psychologicalinterlinking; the interlinking between a person and another social actor,individual or collective (group, organisation, institution, social movement)is the social interlinking properly speaking of which psychological interlinking(between two persons) constitutes both a particular case and a basic element.
Social interlinking is thorefore the type that puts together two socialactors of which at least one is a person and Bolle de Bal specifies thatsocial interlinking means here "the act - or the result of that act - ofcreating or recreating the links, of establishing or reestablishing a relationshipbetween two different social actors where at least one is a person: tobring together or to bring again into contact or communication actors thatare distinct disconnected or isolated from each other" (BOLLE de BAL, 1981,P.15-16). This social interlinking always supposing the bringing into playof a mediating system (system of signs or collective representations; socialinstances).
To remain solidary
It is interesting to notice that the value of solidarity is still presentin French opinion whatever the attraction for more individualistic interests.It is impossible to consider an educative ethic without giving importanceto this value. Are we not conscious today that we are part of a planetarysystem ? The comprehension of technical, scientific and economic phenomenaneeds this openmindedness. Their cultural and social consequences go beyondthe framework of derived factors. The prediction of an increase in thenear future of people from the South towards the North, as from the theEast to the West, has the merits of reconsidering a solidarity which wasanyway fragile. The Germans after unification know how a great deal aboutthat. Some people are already complaining and suggest to "close the borders".But it is not possible to close the door to poverty, we should act to reduceit at its origib policy. This implies a different world economy,, criticismof globalization and other concrete attitudes of some "development workers"whose behavior is far from being compatible with local development in thethird world countries, as it has been so well shown by Robert Chambersin his book (CHAMBERS, 1990).
To accept the inevitable fact
This third central value in education is not easy to recognize. No doubtbecause it is not clearly accessible and definable (5). Psychoanalysisnames it "reality principle" that drives in permanence human action. Butwhat is "reality" ? Are not which opposes the "pleasure principle", thesupporters of the "reality principle" (for every body else) the same asthose who have power and privileges ? In France, factory inspectors whoimpose penalties on business managers who do not respect industrial hygieneand safety know that when the economic and political stakes are important,their job becomes useless. This is more obvious in the third world countries.The poor workers of the polluting factory of Carbide Union in Bophal, inIndia that were killed in hundreds some years ago, were obliged to accept"reality" of economic oppression and the social and human irresponsibilityof the leaders of the multinational companies whose decisions were takenin the USA in the name of more and more profits. Should we say "yes" tono matter what? In order to say yes, we must first of all be able to sayno!
"For death to be fair
life must be fair"
as it has been written by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, from his prison.
Only death has an unavoidable nature. But let's not miss the field ofour reflection here. First of all we are talking about personal death,but also of the physical pain or morality against which we cannot do anything.Children who know so well how to burst into laughter, know also the stoicart of dying as it has been humanly shown by the psychoanalyst GinetteRaimbault (RAIMBAULT, 1985). We cannot control death, perhaps is it thereason why we have not yet co-destroyed eachother ? Can one imagine thegreed that would arouse a person who would possess that mastery ? So manyscientists are desperately researching in order to find it, after the invitro fertilization and the cloning. Substantial results have been achievedin the perpective of slowing down the aging process, of the replacementof malfunctioning organs and it is very useful. But fortunately, deathescapes them and underlines their ignorance and their inability to masterthe world on the background of reality. This ignorance and lack of controlon the dynamic process of the world, that are so well highlighted by Chinesewisdom for many thousands of years.
Thus, as said Confucius, "it's fine", the world continues to run accordingto an immovable order. But noboby can accept death (and the correlativepain) if he cannot put it in the symbolic field of meaning. From this angle,individual death, disconnected, does not exist. Nor does birth for thatmatter. A generation that cannot transmit anymore to its generation centralvalues that weave an authentic symbolic field is condamned to die out withouta real descendance. Sometimes, we have the impression that this risk islying in wait for us in the West. Rimbaud and Hölderlin are, may be,the last famous Western poets, as thinks the philosopher Kostas Axelos,in a grandiose and tragic view of the spreading out of the poeticity inthe "game of the world" (AXELOS, 1984, 1985). I do not think so. Humanexpressivity passes by poetry and as it is so well expressed by the Chinesewisemen, the virtue of humanity, the Ren, is part of the radical poeticity.By now, it has a thousand ways to spread out, but because of the way itis encoded in the day spectacular zeitgeist it follows that it becomessometimes bloated and then insignificant.
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The author writes (p.105) "a value is what is worth while, that is somethingwhich merits a sacrifice. Sacrifice takes place when the thing has a value"
5) As Viviane and Gilbert de Landsheere, concede it the evaluation ofthe emotional field (in which authors include axiology) is not easy. Inthat field, there is a real insufficiency of means of measuring: définirles objets de l'éducation, Paris, PUF, 1989 (1975), ch.2, pages134 and the next.