Emile

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Courier Corporation, Aug 21, 2013 - Literary Collections - 533 pages
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A foundational text of Western education, this 1762 treatise served as a model for a new approach to teaching during the French Revolution. Emile recounts a boy's education, and Rousseau considered it the most important of his writings. With its theories on the retention of innate human goodness and the avoidance of corruption from bourgeois society, the book offers prime examples of the author's philosophy.
Rousseau's five-part approach devotes the first three sections to Emile's early education, including the child's interactions with the larger world and the selection of a trade. The fourth part explores the cultivation of sentiment, with particular focus on natural religion. The book concludes with a profile of Emile's prospective bride, Sophie, that emphasizes the role of mothers in educating their children but encourages women to be submissive to their husbands—a view that excited controversy even among Rousseau's contemporaries and helped inspire Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
 

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About the author (2013)

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher and political theorist who lived much of his life in France. Many reference books describe him as French, but he generally added "Citizen of Geneva" whenever he signed his name. He presented his theory of education in Emile (1762), a novel, the first book to link the educational process to a scientific understanding of children; Rousseau is thus regarded as the precursor, if not the founder, of child psychology. "The greatest good is not authority, but liberty," he wrote, and in The Social Contract (1762) Rousseau moved from a study of the individual to an analysis of the relationship of the individual to the state: "The art of politics consists of making each citizen extremely dependent upon the polis in order to free him from dependence upon other citizens." This doctrine of sovereignty, the absolute supremacy of the state over its members, has led many to accuse Rousseau of opening the doors to despotism, collectivism, and totalitarianism. Others say that this is the opposite of Rousseau's intent, that the surrender of rights is only apparent, and that in the end individuals retain the rights that they appear to have given up. In effect, these Rousseau supporters say, the social contract is designed to secure or to restore to individuals in the state of civilization the equivalent of the rights they enjoyed in the state of nature. Rousseau was a passionate man who lived in passionate times, and he still stirs passion in those who write about him today.

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