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Bac 2022: democracy, work, climate… What philosophy says to young people

► Democracy, how to get involved?

Roger-Pol Right

Philosopher (1)

“We feel in many young people today a real and deep desire for solidarity, the conviction that joint action is necessary in the face of the challenges of the planet and the frenzied individualism of a part of society. But these feelings are accompanied by a mistrust vis-à-vis institutionalized politics, parties, unions, the electoral system, the state.

This is due both to a more general disaffection for politics, but also to the nature of the new issues, ecological, or decolonialist, or LGBT, which all have local consequences while largely thwarting the classic framework of state borders and authorities. old.

A critical distance

Philosophy can comfort young people in their commitments, in their altruistic approach, help them better understand the challenges of these new struggles. Because it represents a radical force of freedom of thought: no one can dictate opinions or beliefs to us. The only rule is to argue what you say.

But we cannot forget the other side of philosophy: it supposes a critical distance vis-à-vis our opinions and invites us to be vigilant in the face of the temptation of authoritarianism, of totalitarianism. By dint of being convinced that we have the truth, of repeating that the cause we are defending is morally just and superior, we risk falling – in the name of good – into a search for domination. There can be no blind commitment, deprived of reflection!

Philosophy also helps young people to think about their commitment – ​​often born of a feeling of revolt – in its link with democracy. Many authors have sought to demonstrate the necessity of the state. Others, from Diogenes to anarchist thinkers to Nietzsche, have challenged state authority.

Accept uncertainty

Confronting these questions, when you are 18 or 20, is all the more beneficial as you often want to speak with one voice. But there is no democracy without disagreement or compromise. Democracy is the clash of opinions and visions of the world. And because it is necessary to act, it is also the law that a majority, temporary, imposes on the minority the practice of compromise, a compromise which can also be reversed.

In the uncertain world that is ours, philosophy finally has another virtue: by inviting us to constantly question our certainties, it helps us to accept uncertainty, which has always been at the heart of the human condition and which our time, singularly, exacerbates. It pushes us to consider this uncertainty as an inescapable fact which should not, on the contrary, prevent us from acting. »

► Studies and work, how to find meaning?

Laurence Devilairs

Philosophy teacher at Panthéon-Sorbonne University and preparatory classes (2)

“What strikes me, in class, at university as in prep, is to often find myself faced with young people in the grip of real sadness, of moral suffering that weighs on the soul. Where youth should be lightness, joy, enthusiasm, agitation… Born, among other things, of confinement (one can hardly be impetuous, windows and doors closed), this feeling of diminishment does not prevent the young generation from be in search of meaning.

On the contrary, it manifests, in an often fragile, feverish, disordered way, an insatiable, urgent, almost dramatic need for meaning… to work in a company only if it is socially, ecologically and humanly responsible. Only if his activities make sense.

The sadness that strikes young people also results from the discrepancy between their eager expectation of meaning and the weakening of institutions that were once providers (State, Church, school, parents) and were authoritative. If necessary, we could build ourselves, find meaning, by rebelling against them. It is more difficult today, at a time when they are satisfied with a murmured, agonizing speech, all in lukewarmness.

Philosophical language, a strong alcohol

Philosophy, on the other hand, vomits the lukewarm. His language is strong alcohol! What is more, it places the question of meaning at its heart. Even the blackest authors, those who highlight the absurdity of existence, have tried to tell us how, despite everything, to live and “to do his job as a man”, to use Camus’ expression. But they appeal to our lucidity: let us be careful, they say, not to fill the void with the first meaning that comes along, not to fall victim to too facile, extremist meanings.

Often, my students ask me to suggest books for them to think about today’s world, in particular the place of women and feminism. Philosophy helps them formulate their search for meaning. Those who, from the elites – especially economic ones – expect to set an example, also show a particular interest in moral philosophy. It can, in fact, feed their thinking about the professional world in which they will have to integrate.

On the other hand, philosophy is not of much help to them when it comes to the very notion of work. The authors of the past (Hegel, for example, with his dialectic of master and slave) endeavored to show that work was a vector of meaning. But their thinking no longer speaks to young people today. Political philosophy needs to be interested in what it does not really think: the company, and all that it implies, from open space to globalization, through power and legitimacy. »

► Climate, how to reconcile with nature?

Constance Malard

Philosophy teacher at Lycée Paul-Claudel-d’Hulst, in Paris

“To ask the question in this way is to imply that man is in conflict with nature. It is to apprehend nature as an alternative, antagonistic force, distinct from him. Philosophy, precisely, questions us about this distinction that we operate too easily.

Many authors confirm it. Plato, for example, tells us the myth of Prometheus, who would have given fire to men to make them capable of mastering the force of nature through technique. We also think of Descartes, who intended to build a science allowing man to become “as master and possessor of nature”, a bit like God. But other philosophers teach us about the common destiny that binds us to nature: the challenge is then no longer to enter into conflict with nature or to be reconciled with it, but to tend towards a unity and even to admit an identification.

Talking about Greta Thunberg to explain Spinoza is possible!

Thus, for Spinoza, man is not an empire within another, larger empire, which would be nature. There is not a microcosm which could detach itself from it: our power is, so to speak, that of nature, all our desires come from it. Talking about Greta Thunberg to explain Spinoza is possible!

Closer to home, Michel Serres suggests replacing the balance of power with a contract of symbiosis, a requirement for fusion. Because to adopt an attitude of hostility with the world which surrounds us, it is to run the risk to disappear with the environment which one “parasitic”.

When I lead my students to question the foundations of this relationship of duality with nature, I feel in many a curiosity, an interest, a surprise, sometimes a fascination. This theme resonates with their concerns. High school students who are very scientific, or who wish to become engineers, wonder above all about the progress of technology and the limits of the human being. Those with a more economic profile are more attentive to the effects of economic globalization on the environment, to the need to rethink our trade. Literary people are often sensitive to the fusion of the self in a whole, nature, to which it belongs. There is something romantic about a community of destiny with nature.

Don’t be afraid of fear

Many young people are in any case anxious about the future, especially that of the planet. However, philosophy can help them to face their fear and to found their concern. Hans Jonas even teaches them to accept their apprehension: one should not be afraid of fear, but on the contrary be reconciled with it. The fear of seeing the planet become unlivable allows us to grasp how precious it is to us. Fear is thus, according to him, the beginning of reason. It makes us gain in composure and lucidity and thus serves as a driving force for action. »


Bac 2022

In the new architecture of the tank, philosophy is one of the four final final exams. It concerns the 522,000 candidates in the general and technological pathways.

Specialty exams were passed in mid-May.

The last test will be the grand oral, scheduled between 20 June and 1er July.

Aimed at first year students the anticipated French test is scheduled for June 16.

The other disciplines are assessed on the basis of continuous assessment and account for a total of 40% of the final mark.

Vocational baccalaureate candidates, them, passed their written and practical tests on computer support from May 23 to June 3, then will pass the written general education tests from June 14 to 23.


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