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Michel Serres’ Philosophy of Education, TechnoScience, Democracy, Ecology, Theology and the Humanities

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With the passing of Michel Serres this year, philosophy lost another important figure in/ for educational thought. Few philosophers of the traditional Western canon—which is highly problematic in its elitism, racism and misogyny—invested much thought concerning education. Education was an important issue for some philosophers such as Plato’s Socrates, A.N. Whitehead and Dewey. Like Jacques Derrida—who also died relatively recently—education was important for Serres’.

Whether we look to The Troubadour of Knowledge (1997) or his most recently translated works such as Thumbelina (2015) or The Incandescent  (2018) Serres’ interest in educational matters were significant. Yet, by no means can we assume Serres’ concerns with education were conventional. His concerns were always couched in matters of human relations with(in) “nature” or in relationship to ideas of democracy, science and technology, mythology, literature, theology, poetry and the humanities.

It is also important to recognize the role that mythopoetics and history (s) of science played in shaping Serres’ notions of education as well. Mythology serves as a means to make more visible the destructive legacies of modernist thought—and works to avoid the problem of literalism(s), as James Hillman (1997) would put it. Serres re-thinks alternative ways of Being in the world. Whether it is Hermes (2007) as a parasite (noise), the origin myths of Genesis (1995), or his books of foundations (2015, 2015, 2017), mythopoetics shapes his re-thinking of the history of the sciences and the roots of democracy.

There is yet another important theme that needs to be mentioned as well. Serres’ critique of nuclear weapons and the destruction of the earth is timely. Serres’ ideas about relationships between humans  non-human animals interested him too.  Deeply important to Serres was the environment (2012) and human relations with others (2011) and how humans positioned themselves philosophically to see the world differently. More importantly, perhaps, Serres was concerned with the ways in which humans—who are webbed in the world—hear, feel and think ecologically.

Ecological questions, for Serres, are deeply theological (Genesis, 1995). As it was with Leibniz, Serres addresses big questions such as: why is there something rather than nothing? Or, What is the Genesis of Being? Like his teacher Gaston Bachelard (2002), Serres thought about Being in the world via poesis. Serres’ writings read like poetry. In no way is Serres a typical, canonical Western philosopher. His style of writing—much like Bachelard’s—was idiosyncratic. As Isaiah Berlin might put, Serres was not a hedge hog. He was a fox! He used the imagery of the Harlequin to suggest that his style is a patch-quilt.

The Humanities were especially important to Serres as he once said that it was Simone Weil’s (2002) theology on Grace that moved him out of the sciences and into the humanities, i.e. philosophy, poetry, theology, mythology.

Finally, it will be important to address the Vita Contemplatvia of Serres. “There can be no human life without journeys” (Serres, 2018, p. 116). Serres repeated the idea of journeying throughout his work. Journeying--in The Troubadour of Knowledge—takes on great importance for his life as a scholar.

Contributors to this special issue on Serres might consider grappling with any of the issues we have discussed above. This call for essays on Serres might not only try to cover his life as a philosopher but as a scientist, educator, activist, poet, theologian, environmentalist, sailor, “peasant.” Any important aspect of the educational journeys that shaped his life as a scholar will be considered by the guest editors.

In this special issue we want to reflect on Serres’ contribution to philosophy and education as they relate to matters of democracy, ecology, technology, science, mythology, poetry, theology, and the humanities.

Contributors may contextualize their articles within the following possible questions:

  • Did Serres have a systematic philosophy of education or were educational matters embedded in broader themes such as science, technology, democracy, and ecology? Or true to Serres’ form was it a hybridity?
  • How did Serres’ philosophy rethink science, democracy, technology, and ecology?
  • What were the different relationships between humans and non-humans Serres developed in order to draw attention to ecological crisis?
  • How did Serres’s philosophy encourage his readers to rethink science and technology matters in order to reorient humans in their relationships with “nature” and the earth?
  • What might be the broader implications of Serres’ thought and legacy be for educational philosophy?
  • How did Theological and Poetics shape Serres thinking about education and philosophy?



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Submission guidelines

Please send your abstract of 250-500 words, along with references and a brief bio, to both John A. Weaver and Marla Morris Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading, College of Education, PO Box 8144, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA 30460-8144.

Final article manuscripts will be approx. 6000 words.

Guidelines for preparing and submitting your manuscript to this journal are available at: www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?journalCode=rept20&page=instructions.

Abstract due:  15 December 2019

Notification of acceptance: to be advised

Manuscript submission deadline: to be advised



Marla Morris, Georgia Southern University, USA: marlamor@georgiasouthern.edu

John A. Weaver, Georgia Southern University, USA

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