May's Reviews > Émile, ou, de l'éducation

Émile, ou, de l'éducation by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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's review
Jun 13, 2011

bookshelves: non-english-french, philosophy
Read in January, 2009

I recognize that this is a classic of Rousseau literature and in many ways it's not bad for its time. But it is very hard for me to swallow, knowing how philosophy has advanced and having had the benefit of Plato's works, which Rousseau may not have had full liberty to, given when Plato was dug up. He is SO held within the structure of his time, which can be seen throughout in his biases and his assumptions on class, race, and gender. Painful to swallow if you are not in the majority on any of those.

Secondarily, he has so many biases on what knowledge is and who it should come from. Frustrating when one considers that academia and that certain sort of knowledge has its own biases embedded within it.

Aside from all of these premise, when one looks through to consider what Rousseau is trying to say about education and how one must tenderly care for how a child is raised so as to inspire a love of learning that does not require this outside praise, you can actually see the beauty of Emile. Indeed, today's idea of everyone gets a medal, no one looses, is very much the opposite of what Rousseau is saying and we shall see the types of personalities this produces in years to come.
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