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The concept of the educated person

educated person


It is very difficult to say precisely what is meant by the expression educated person . There are several reasons for this. In the French context, we have frequently locked ourselves in a sterile opposition between education and instruction , the first notion being supposed to cover an indefinite number of aspects of life (artistic education, moral education, etc.), the second being, to l ‘reverse, considered to have a more circumscribed object (the formation of judgment). Moreover, when we say of a man that he is educated, it happens that this qualifier denotes his presence or the fact that he is considerate with the ladies. It also happens that this epithet applies to those who have a superficial culture allowing them to tackle the most diverse subjects without ever going into them in depth, thereby manifesting a real social talent. As we will see later, the grain of truth concealed in these anecdotal insights is that they suggest a distinction between being educated and mastering specialized knowledge., which suggests that an element of non-specialization is inherent in the idea of ​​education.

So we will start, as we will have understood, from the idea that the mastery of certain knowledge plays a role in the fact of being educated, while keeping in mind the fact that the two things are by no means identical. . Accuracy forces us to say that in reality four elements combine to explain that this identification is impossible, elements which we will examine successively. Indeed, part of the meaning we give to the expression to be educated (1) the idea of ​​a synoptic view of our experience (2) that of explicitation of the principles of our own action (in opposition to the simple exercise of a know-how), (3) that of a use, possibly innovative of knowledge (in opposition to simple information appropriation); finally, on a related level, the idea of ​​education implies (4) that of an active modification of our interactions with our perceptual environment.

Knowledge, know-how, propensities

if he has learned a proposition (whether particular or general, descriptive or normative) John knows that ; but there is no phrase with the verb to know corresponding to to teach to (we do not say to know to ) 1. As long as education is also concerned with the development of propensities (which, it seems to me, is not open to debate) we have an obvious reason to think that it is not enough to be learned to be educated: it is also necessary to count in its provisions various tendencies which one considers as important, taking into account what one considers elsewhere as the goals of education (it can therefore only hardly be a question of criminal or alcoholic tendencies). Thus, in the moral sphere, the establishment in an agent of certain stable lines of action is required so that, when the time comes, an autonomous moral reflection can develop (which will necessarily include elements of knowledge, if only those dealing with the rules and the identity of the moral issues to be debated).


Being educated presupposes, as we will have understood, the restraint by which one tries to get out of the insularity of specialization to see in a synoptic perspective one’s different aptitudes and aspirations: one must therefore stop seeing noon at the door of one’s specialty. favorite. We must jointly, as we have seen, assume the descriptive / normative hybrid character of the educated qualifier , and explain the consequences of this duality when its non-recognition confuses the debates.

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