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Emile: Or, On Education by Jean-Jacques…

Emile: Or, On Education (original 1762; edition 1979)

by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Allan Bloom (Translator)

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Title:Emile: Or, On Education
Authors:Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Other authors:Allan Bloom (Translator)
Info:Basic Books (1979), Paperback, 501 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:french literature, novel, bildungsroman, education

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Emile, or On Education by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1762)



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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
As one of the earliest, systematic attempts at developing a framework for educating children, *Emile* highlights the timeless question that faces every parent and teacher: what do *I* believe are the most important truths to pass on? To teach another is to define one's own priorities and hierarchies of values. In this sense, education is inherently and unavoidably philosophical -- it is a de facto triage of importance.

*Emile* is classic Rousseau. His devotion to reason as the highest value and his belief in the power of observation and nature to lead us to truth carry a familiar ring in our world -- a world largely shaped by the Enlightenment in which he and others were integral players. At the same time, Rousseau's idea about women and their roles in society can, to us, be as offensive as they are anachronistic.

This is a profoundly provocative read for every parent and teacher. While very little in here is particularly relevant to the contemporary education systems of modern, developed countries, Rousseau is wholly preoccupied with a more fundamental question: what kind of people do we hope our students become? If we respond, "We want our children to grow into adults who can think for themselves and act as autonomous, free-thinking agents in the world," Rousseau will retort: "Then why are you so preoccupied with making them parrot back your answers and with forcing them to obey your curriculum? Isn't this implicitly training them to be just exactly the *opposite* of what you want them to become?"
  jamesshelley | Nov 22, 2015 |
I read this book as research for a writing project of my own. Once finished, I had no idea how I ought to rate it.

There is some brilliant writing here, and I highlighted a lot of eminently quotable passages. Certainly I can understand why the French adore some of Rousseau's ideas about education.

But even if one can get past the irony of Rousseau the child-abandoner writing (in very smug tones!) how the young ought to be raised and educated, there's the little fact that he was sexist above and beyond the call of duty. The thoughts on education that the French praise to the skies are all thoughts on the education of boys. When he does bother to mention girls, he stresses that their education ought to lie in teaching them how to be utterly submissive and obedient. Because if you're nice enough to that wife-beater your parents married you off to, he'll stop hitting you. And if he doesn't stop hitting you, well, I guess you weren't nice enough.

The fact that I'm paraphrasing shouldn't lead you to conclude that I'm exaggerating.

Yes, I know Rousseau lived and died in the eighteenth century. So did Mary Wollstonecraft.

So: Read this if you're interested in French history, the history of education, or Rousseau's bizarre life. And don't be fooled by the many people who refer to this book as a novel. It isn't. It's a work in which Rousseau presents his ideas about education, and at a certain point, says, "Let's pretend I was hired to be the tutor of a young man -- say his name is Emile. Here's what that might be like, and here are some conversations I can imagine having with this boy." Rousseau never claimed to be writing a novel. He simply alternates between the autobiographical and the hypothetical.

( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
Tough sledding but worth it. Rousseau is grandfather or even father of historicism, a true revolutionary. Now human history is us making ourselves, we think. My take is in my book Five Paradigms. ( )
  ted_newell | Jun 20, 2015 |
A Huge "Thought Experiment"

Rousseau wants to reform the state of the decadent human institutions of his time. And what best place to start with than by educating people to be good citizens? So the philosopher conceives of a thought experiment where he plays the role of a tutor for more than 20 years of a young scholar named Emile. It's through this experience that we start to grasp the scope of his criticisms, and the way he wants to prepare people for the coming of a new order.

Throughout the text, readers are instilled to think on their own, to come to terms with a new way of thinking Man[kind] from its most profound roots, and how a child must be raised in conformity to nature (his/her nature, as Rousseau conceives it). So the child must be raised free, equal to all others around him/her, and connected to all through bonds of natural fraternity. As Emile grows, the goal starts to become more and more clear, as grows the scope of criticisms and reform proposals.

Rousseau shows himself as a very passionate writer, one who's not afraid in taking stances about a wide range of issues. The downside of this is that there are some portions of this book (specially Book IV) that are heavily outdated; nonetheless, with a sober hermeneutical attitude, one can somehow overcome these deficiencies to grasp a higher order of meaning underlying the whole of it (including the heavily time/place-specific context).

With so much to gain from it, this book is must-read, specially if one is interested in philosophy. ( )
  henrique.maia | Aug 3, 2014 |
The work tackles fundamental political and philosophical questions about the relationship between the individual and society. It discusses how, in particular, the individual might retain what Rousseau saw as innate human goodness while remaining part of a corrupting collectivity. Its opening sentence: “Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.”
Rousseau seeks to describe a system of education that would enable the natural man he identifies in The Social Contract to survive corrupt society. He employs the story of Emile and his tutor to illustrate how such an ideal citizen might be educated. Emile is scarcely a detailed parenting guide but it does contain some specific advice on raising children. It is regarded by some as the first philosophy of education in Western culture to have a serious claim to completeness, as well as being one of the first examples of a Bildungsroman, having preceded Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship by more than thirty years.
This educational romance by Rousseau describes the up-bringing of the boy, Emile, according to what Rousseau calls the principles of nature. These principles are so extreme as to denigrate the value of civilization, to the detriment of Emile and all who follow Rousseau's principles. This approach does not seem appropriate for modern education. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jan 26, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean-Jacques Rousseauprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloom, AllanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gispert, MontserratTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moreau, Jean-MichelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richard, FrançoisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Richard, PierreEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil.
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"La lecture est le fléau de l'enfance".

"L'homme qui a le plus vécu n'est pas celui qui a compté le plus d'années, mais celui qui a le plus senti la vie".

"Respectez l'enfance, et ne vous pressez point de la juger, soit en bien, soit en mal".
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465019315, Paperback)

Alan Bloom’s new translation of Emile, Rousseau’s masterpiece on the education and training of the young, is the first in more than seventy years. In it, Bloom, whose magnificent translation of Plato’s Republic has been universally hailed as a virtual rediscovery of that timeless text, again brings together the translator’s gift for journeying between two languages and cultures and the philosopher’s perception of the true meaning and significance of the issues being examined in the work. The result is a clear, readable, and highly engrossing text that at the same time offers a wholly new sense of the importance and relevance of Rousseau’s thought to us.In addition to his translation, Bloom provides a brilliant introduction that relates the structure and themes of the book to the vital preoccupation's of our own age, particularly in the field of education, but also more generally to the current concerns about the limits and possibilities of human nature. Thus in this translation Emile, long a classic in the history of Western thought and educational theory, becomes something more: a prescription, fresh and dazzling, for the bringing up of autonomous, responsible—that is, truly democratic—human beings.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A classic in the history of Western thought and educational theory for the development of autonomous, responsible human beings.

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