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Emile: Or On Education
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Rousseau, in his longing to return to the state of nature, ventures to raise a natural man. Emile (or On Education) is the Corner Stone to Rousseau's "Discourse on the Sciences and Arts" & "Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality." Rousseau's imaginary pupil, Emile, will "get his lessons from nature and not from men." Rousseau is not concerned with teaching Emile numerous facts, but with instructing the child to be able to think for himself.
Emile will have one mentor, Robinson Crusoe. Crusoe is Rousseau's modern natural man. Crusoe is "on his island, alone, deprived of the assistance of all the arts, providing nevertheless for his subsistence." Rousseau goes to extremes to create a childhood that is free from habit, and one that provides Emile with the greatest adaptability to his surroundings, whatever they may be, for the rest of his life.
Rousseau's ideas are profound. Though he is far less well known than Marx, Nietzsche, and or Weber, to name a few, his ideas are the basis for the philosophies' of these men, who have in return influenced society. Along with Rousseau's Two Discourses, Emile is a must read. (I recommend reading the Discourses before Emile.) However, do not expect Rousseau to tell you everything because he does not spend an extensive time explaining all of the minute details, especially those regarding the first few years of Emile's life. Rather, he says, "if you have to be told everything, do not read me."
If you are interested in the foundation of thought for many of the most influential philosophers of modern Europe, then read Emile. (I recommend the Allan Bloom translation.)
I disagree with Rousseau about many things, even about the most fundamental issues. Most of all, I do not think that what it means to be human should be thought limited by a pre-existing, and pristine human nature.Read more ›
For Rousseau, the most important property of modern society that is inimical to man is the exertion of authority and power over the subject. Emile is allowed to grow and flourish without the arbitrary directives of parent/authority figures. And as always, Rousseau's prose is light and wonderful. He falls short in the section on Emile's counter-part Sophie, who embodies practically all of the sexist facets of enlightenment prejudice, but this remains a very great work of political theory in spite of its shortcomings and frequent meanderings.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jean Rousseau's book Emile is a must read for both parents and those in the educational field. Although his ideas can be controversial there is much that can be applied today.Published 5 months ago by _loveforall
The late genius Alan Bloom called this the most influential book written in modern Europe. It gave rise to the philosophy of the French Revolution, to Karl Marx's Communist... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Robert V. Rose, retired education researcher
An excellent classic that presents an early view on child development.Published 18 months ago by Dr. Sherman
This was a fun book to read. It gave you insight into the way Rousseau and the people of the time thought about children, but also how they lived their lives. Read morePublished on April 29, 2014 by Nicholas Roberts