human education and ontological condition of childhood

claudio almir dalbosco


The first part of this essay reconstructs the concept of childhood discontinuity as an ontological condition of human existence, following the definition developed by Walter Kohan, in his book Infância. Entre educação e Filosofia. The text briefly shows the connection between his thesis and both Heidegger's and Foucault’s notions of ontology. In relation to Heidegger, Kohan’s definition retains the temporal notion of Dasein as a critique of Western metaphysical tradition. That notion was crucial to Foucault's historicizing of the subject and his treatment of the present as a way of thinking about ourselves. In this sense, Dasein as temporality and the subject’s historicity are based on the notion of childhood as a discontinuity, emphasizing the unlimited aspect of the human condition and the possibility of creating inherent in human action. The second part of the essay describes how the notion of childhood as discontinuity took root in modern philosophical discourse, finding a place in Rousseau’s notion of perfectibilité. In early modern times, that notion anticipated the flexible and indeterminate dimension of the human condition, requiring an open and pluralistic process of human education and formation, exemplified by Rousseau in his Émile. Here the essay focuses its analysis on the overlap between an open and indeterminate notion of the human condition, secured by perfectibility, and the formative process which presupposes the childhood’s own discontinuity. In this context, this discontinuity is understood as spontaneity and creativity of action, the intrinsic ability of each child and student has to make their own experiences. Because of the fact that it defends this idea, the Émile of Rousseau is an indispensable work for thinking the boundary problems between philosophy and education in a creative way, taking the notion of childhood as a mediator of the relation between philosophical reflection and pedagogical praxis.


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e-issn 1984-5987 | p-issn 2525-5061