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Emile: Or On Education

4.1 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465019311
ISBN-10: 0465019315
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Allan Bloom, formerly a professor of political theory at the University of Toronto, has recently become a professor of The Committee on Social Thought and in The College, University of Chicago.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 501 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (June 29, 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019311
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,270 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A natural education is one that "consists not in teaching the child many things, but never letting anything but accurate and clear ideas enter his brain."
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.)
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Format: Paperback
Heersink's distillation of the "essence" of Rousseau's Emile is so bazaar, tendentious and misleading that I am left to wonder whether he has read a single page of the book that he finds so tedious and banal. Nature, for Rousseau, is not the vast open spaces of the great outdoors; it is rather, the totality of created beings such as they exist prior to their being worked over by human artifice, and, in particular, the inner, inborn nature of human beings before it has been deflected, distorted, and perverted through their reciprocal, social interaction. In Emile, Rousseau sets out to show how, even in the midst of the corrupting forces of society, it might still be possible to raise a healthy, fully-actualized, harmonious individual; a human being whose inner nature is developed and realized in its potentialities. Such an education is not possible under the instruction of trees, bears and geysers, but only through the most exquisite attentiveness of the tutor, who, through constant vigilance, tries to develop the mind and sentiments of his pupil without giving a foothold to the social passions that make children vain, greedy, manipulative, and deceitful. This requires, above all, that at every moment, the child should learn to judge its actions by their natural effects, and feel its own will limited by the resistance of the nature without it, rather than by the will of other human beings. For whereas the child will submit easily to the force of nature, it will do everything to overcome the force that oppose it once it regards them as expressions of a human will.
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is one of the most sexist books in history, but if you are a political scientist or philosopher it is a must read because of its historical importance in these fields, which is why I had to sit through it. it is very painful to read as a woman, but it will certainly teach anyone about how terrible our patriarchal philosophical history is, so give it a try if you are curious about that! i promise you will learn nothing about education, other than what not to do, so you have to have a sense of humor to look at it in its historical context!
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Format: Paperback
A deceptively simple text. Rousseau has distanced himself from the Social Contract and the concept of the noble savage here, and has decided to illustrate the principles of an education that will bring about `natural man.' Emile is his guinea pig, whom he allows to grow on his own accord. His governor and nurse impose nothing on him, and he is allowed to build and explore without any external authority, eventually choosing a vocation and place in society.

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.
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