Caring thinking about caring thinking

by Oscar Brenifier, April 2008
Revision and suggestions by Janette Poulton


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En duft av fornuft...

Dette inspirerte og velargumenterte essayet signert den franske filosofen Oscar Brenifier går til filosofisk frontalangrep på vår kulturs hang til pragmatisme, relativisme, individualisme, liberalisme, klientifisering, materialisme, narsissisme, infantilisering, feminisering, omsorgsføleri, banalisering og trivialisering – kort sagt, alt som avsporer hver enkelt fra en bevisstgjørende konfrontasjon med egen og andres tenkning. Skriftet er et forsøk på å gjenreise det fornuftige og ansvarlige mennesket i en tid preget av fragmentering, sentimentalitet og umodenhet. Gjenreisningen forutsetter at vi makter å skape en distanse til vårt eget følelsesliv, at vi slutter å ta oss selv så høytidelig, at vi setter våre meninger til side for å lytte til det som er annerledes og fremmed – i oss selv og i barnet.

Øyvind Olsholt


Among the aficionados of Philosophy with children, called P4C by the initiated, there is a concept that has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years: “caring thinking”. Appealing to the traditional criteria of “goodness” or “quality” in the modern American tradition, which has now been universalized through the Internet, we might well conclude that if it’s popular it must be good! Be it the hit parade, the best seller’s list or the “Ten best” classical concept on U.S. and affiliated campuses, all of which fit very well with basic principles of marketing. Thus this “caring thinking” has become now such an overtly and widely claimed characteristic of philosophical practice with children, so much so that recently one could read in the mails of an international forum, without any reactions from readers, a P4C practitioner claiming that indeed this “caring thinking” was the primary—we could have almost heard the sole…—interest for philosophizing with children, the main reason to do it.

Becoming conscious of this phenomenon triggered in us the traditional fiber of criticism, an instinct that seems inherent to philosophical practice. We could here invoke the Tao, and claim “When everyone says this is good, this is bad”, or appeal to Hegel’s invitation to do the work of “negativity” without which there is no thinking, or recall, a more recent warning, Popper’s reminder that if we don’t perceive the dimension of falsity in what we claim, we are not acting as scientists but are indulging in an act of faith. Taking into consideration these encouragements or injunctions, we thought the time was ripe for attempting to produce some short critical piece of analysis on the aforesaid “caring thinking”. This article is the result of this work inspired by our own personal daemon—as called by Socrates—or the devil, as the reader will choose appropriate.

Page created: 26.01.09. Page last modified: 18.11.09 14:41.