La vanité de la nomenclature. Un manuscrit inedit de Jean Piaget

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 6 (1):75-106 (1984)
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Abstract

Jean Piaget, connu comme créateur d'une théorie du développement de l'intelligence chez l'enfant, fut un naturaliste précoce. En 1912, à l'âge de seize ans, il prononça une conférence sur « La vanité de la nomenclature » dans le cadre des activités d'un club de jeunes naturalistes; le manuscrit de cette conférence a été retrouvé récemment. L'introduction à la présente édition du manuscrit essaie de montrer l'importance de ce dernier pour une biographie historique de Piaget. D'une part, « La vanité » est à la fois l'expression la plus synthétique de l'intégration de son auteur au champ de l'histoire naturelle, et le premier signal de sa réorientation vers la biologie philosophique qui jouerait un rôle crucial dans son oeuvre ultérieure. D'autre part, le texte du jeune Piaget illustre la persistance du nominalisme dans la problématique post-darwinienne de l'espèce, et certaines relations entre cette problématique et la philosophie de Henri Bergson. Long before becoming the well-known creator of a theory of the development of intelligence in children, Jean Piaget was a naturalist. In 1912, at the age of sixteen, and as member of a young naturalists' club, he gave a talk called « The Vanity of Nomenclature », the manuscript of which was recently discovered. The introduction to the present edition of that manuscript aims at suggesting its significance for a historical biography of Piaget. On the one hand, Piaget's text is the best exponent of his integration into the field of natural history; however, it is also the first sign of his reorientation towards the philosophical biology that would play a fundamental role in his later work. On the other hand, « The Vanity » illustrates the persistence of nominalism in post-Darwinian thinking about the species, and reveals certain relations between Henry Bergson's philosophy and the history of biology.

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Fernando Vidal
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

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