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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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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 The downside of this is that there are some portions of this book (specially Book IV) that are heavily outdated; nonetheless, with a sober hermeneutical attitude, one can somehow overcome these deficiencies to grasp a higher order of meaning underlying the whole of it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 |
I am still fascinated by this book concerning the negative attitude, Rousseau adopts against his pupil in the question, how to deal with sexuality. The philosopher seems to be an early apologist of a repression which later on was generalised in the Victorianism.
  hbergander | Dec 12, 2011 |
"[A] wounded spirit, who can bare? This book is full of symptons of such a spirit." (Inscribed on verso of title page, Vol. 2).
  JohnAdams | Mar 28, 2008 |
ur inner conflicts are caused by these contradictions. Drawn this way by nature and that way by man, compelled to yield to both forces, we make a compromise and reach neither goal. We go through life, struggling and hesitating, and die before we have found peace, useless alike to ourselves and to others.
  antimuzak | Feb 9, 2008 |
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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:28 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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