Atelier Bergson — Bergson et l’éducation

La prochaine séance de l’Atelier Bergson aura lieu sur Zoom le 12 avril 2023 de 14h à 16h30 (CET)

Lien Zoom :

Meeting ID: 950 9606 0568
mot de passe: hqxn4

Mélanie Weill (chercheuse indépendante) : Life and education: the influence of bergsonism on Montessori pedagogy

In the aftermath of the First World War, a great movement aiming to reform education took place in Europe, called “new” or “alternative” or “active” education. The new educators questioned the authoritarian way teachers related to their students in the 19th century, defended children’s rights, and renewed the notions of what it is to learn and to teach. Reading the works of medical doctor and pedagogue Maria Montessori, I noticed the repeated presence of bergsonian vocabulary. In the introduction of The formation of man (1949), an overview of her life’s work, the major figure of New Education places Bergson’s most famous concept at the heart of her pedagogy, stating that “Our first teacher will be (…) theélan vital”. In this talk I will defend the idea that a lot of aspects of New Education can be seen as practical applications of Bergson’s philosophy. 

Liselott-Mariett Olsson (Associate Professor in Pedagogy, Malmö University) : Becoming Pedagogue: Bergson and the Aesthetics of Early Childhood Education and Care

Throughout the history of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), aesthetics has played a prominent role, and it has been practically and theoretically treated as concerning the relation between matter and mind in a non-dualistic and integrated way. However, in the contemporary educational situation the aesthetic dimension is neglected, and the components of the relation are no longer “held together” (Olsson 2023). A certain kind of “abstract formalism” (Løvlie 2007), expressed not the least in ever-growing “neuromania” (Vandenbroeck et al. 2017) and “standards and accountability movements” (Taubman 2009) in ECEC, has taken over the discourse on education, obliterating the aesthetic dimension and relation as well as pedagogical practices and theories connected to these.

To address this, some decisive parts of Bergson’s major work Matter and Memory (1896/1991) are of value and use, not the least the critique of epiphenomenalism and parallelism in neuroscientific explanations of the human mind, as well as the critical and creative account of the relation between matter and mind herein displayed. Bergson approaches the problem by showing how the dualism between mind and matter becomes settled when space is allowed to intervene and through perception produce a distance and a division between mind and matter – between “our mind” and “our body” (including our material brain) as well as between “our mind” and “things”. This spatialized vision is due to how perception is directed towards action that pragmatically and reductively deforms matter. This, however, is not the only or even the true nature of matter and the quest that Bergson begins with this book concerns therefore to restore to matter (including our own body and its brain) its “ultimate reality”[1] (Worms 2013:112, my translation). The main thesis is double: “the critique of space is extended to the perception of matter, leading to a metaphysics of duration, that in turn is extended to the reality of matter[2] (Worms 2013a:113, my translation).

In this presentation I will further explore this thesis and its potential synergies with the aesthetics of ECEC by proceeding through three movements: 1) critically identifying abstract formalism as a badly stated problem in ECEC, 2) making an inventory of some pedagogical-aesthetical practices and theories in ECEC, and 3) suggesting some creative and contemporary contributions for how to practically and theoretically re-activate aesthetics in ECEC.


Bergson, H. (1896/1991) Matter and Memory. New York: Zone Books.

Løvlie, L. (2007) The pedagogy of place, Nordisk Pedagogik, 27 (1), 32-36.

Olsson, L. M. (2023) Becoming Pedagogue – Bergson and the Aesthetics, Ethics and Politics of Early Childhood Education and Care. London & New York: Routledge.

Taubman, P. M. (2009). Teaching by numbers: Deconstructing the discourse of standards and accountability in education. New York: Routledge.

Vandenbroeck. M., DeVos J., Fias, W., Olsson, L. M., Penn, H., Wastell, D., and White, S. (2017) Constructions of neuroscience in early childhood education. London: Routledge.

Worms, F. (2013 2e éd.) Bergson ou les deux sens de la vie. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

[1] réalité ultime 

[2] la critique de l’espace, étendue à la perception de la matière, conduit à une métaphysique de la durée, elle-même étendue à la réalité de la matière

Chair : Maria Adriana Camargo Cappello (Universidade Federal do Paraná)

OpenEdition vous propose de citer ce billet de la manière suivante :
Caterina Zanfi (5 avril 2023). Atelier Bergson — Bergson et l’éducation. Société des amis de Bergson. Consulté le 13 juillet 2024 à l’adresse

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