2000 NewFoundations

The Educational Theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau

Analyst: G Lorraine Wylie


edited 11/19/18

Theory of Value

The sciences and the arts, while brilliant, are not a genuine expression of fundamental human needs but the result of pride and vanity EP 219

Man's fundamental first duty is to learn the art of living; man's first duty is to be human EP 221

Keep harmful influences away from the young child; a child should grow in accordance with his own nature; no early childhood education EP221

Goals of education recognizes a progressive education that respects that the child has his own special needs as a being who exists in his own right EP221

Children should be children before being men" (EP221)

Well regulated freedom provides the only valid basis and aim of sound education EP 221

Necessity is captible with controlled freedom since it lets the human being exercise his powers within the limits prescribed for him by nature EP221

Object of education is to make a man, not a soldier, priest etc; improvement of inner self as worth as an end to itself MP 114

Theory of Knowledge

Knowledge constitutes the ability to reason and use our senses to learn; if we use books in place of nature and our senses it teaches us to believe much and know little F1 189

The instruments of knowledge is our own body. EP 221

Education should be rooted in man's moral nature EP 220

Educate to be a man, not one profession, he will be able to do whatever is needed in any situation B 18:37

A lie: ... in society man cherishes as virtues what are really vices, i.e. the lie of politeness CE 20:245

Theory of Human Nature

Human nature is sacrificed by the demands of the focus on the development of an intellectual culture EP219 Human Nature is in constant conflict with expectations of society EP219

Virtue confers stability and unity upon the human existence because it subordinates the idle speculation to the active needs of the moral life; it induces strength and vigor to the soul; allows for fall expression of man's genius; existence is solid and permanent EP219

The original nature of man is good but corrupted by society EP220

To be good is to exist according to ones intrinsic potentiality of one's nature EP221

Man's egotistic nature prevents him from regaining the simplicity of original human nature B 18:37

Self love is always good in its purest state and spontaneous; it expresses the real essence of human existence EP220

Self love serves as a source of all genuinely natural impulses and emotions; from instinctively displayed in self preservation to a nobler expression when combined with reason EP220

Natural order effects all aspects of human existence; brings individual into contact with his own innerself, physical environment and his fellow man. EP220

All passions are good if they are under our control; all are bad if they control us EP221

Man's nature is not fully mature until it becomes social EP221

Natural man in the state of nature is predominately an instinctive primitive creature living on the spontaneous expression of his innate vitality; man in the social state is a rational, moral being aware of obligations to other people, cafled upon to subordinate the impulse of goodness to the demands of virtue -- a moral and relative existence EP222

Rational man always has an awareness of common good and the need to live in harmonious relationship with his fellow man EP222

Cannot separate morality and politics EP222

Man's ultimate feeling of satisfaction is to feel himself at one with a God created system in which all is good; goal of human endeavor is happiness

Theory of Learning

He stresses the importance of a progressive education adapted to the individuals developing needs so to follow "the natural progress of the human heart.' EP221

Starts from a fundamental principle (man's natural goodness) derived initially from personal intuition and is verifiable by observation and psychological analysis EP 221

Early education is based primarily on the senses; promotes direct contact with the physical world; no book learning for early education EP221

Learning is done through trial and error, experimentation through concrete medium EP221

Only book allowed a child was Robinson Crusoe because it describes a man's reliance on his own ingenuity and resourcefulness. EP221

No judgement on accomplishments; the child is happy as he is unaware of capacity and desire, power and will, and artificial needs ("happy savage") EP221

Rousseau recognizes the need for the child to be prepared for the future. Within the child is a reservoir of potential energy they don't need immediately; the educators task is to hold back the energy until it can be used effectively EP221

After lessons of necessity, lessons of utility are to be learned to develop reason to be applied to what interests and helps him EP221

Early judgments must be formed not through words or abstractions but through sensations and feelings. A positive education begins only when the child becomes aware of his relationships with other people based on sensibility, particularly the innate feeling of pity, and later love and aversion EP221

Through the source of our passions we are impelled *beyond ourselves" and extend our being EP221

Primitive stage complete, move onto involving ourselves in relations with the physical realm of nature and the world of human beings EP221

Theory of Transmission

Teachers will teach outside of society in the realm of nature B 18:37

Students are provided with concrete materials, objects and situations for learning to take place B18:37

To teach a child you must understand him E:59

Theory of Society

European civilization sacrificed the moral demands of human nature by artificial needs due to the allure of a purely intellectual culture EP219

Artificial Uniformity of Behavior causes man to ignore 'the duties of man and the needs of nature" so that appearance and reality are at constant variance in social life EP 219

Rapid growth of luxury and idleness serves to increase corruption of the contemporary situation; thus genuine human relationships become weaker EP219

Society opposes virtue (what is morally right); society forces man to assume hypocrisy and deceit as a means of selfish interests EP219

Society displays a prevalence of an unnatural inequality based on power and wealth EP219

Inequality represents a fall from happiness in a primitive state into misery of man in the present state as a political being (this lacks support of facts) EP219

Inequality was made permanent through the institution of laws and political organization EP220

He felt that the small republics, while still far from nature, could retain simplicity and innocence and protect themselves from further corruption EP220

He viewed the theater as an evil product of society; artificial entertainment; product of idleness, vanity and fomenter of dangerous passions and emotion; incapable of directing man to moral activities. Something which makes woman immoral and reduces man to a condition of dependence EP220

Amusements best suited to man's true nature are those that derive from man's work, relationships and needs; bust be an integral part of man's daily life; different from work but inspired by the same spirit; used their own resources for entertainment EP220

Appropriate entertainment - joyous public entertainment that takes place "beneath the sky" and in the presence of fellow citizens; inspires the whole community with feelings that are both social and human EP220

Self love: the natural order of who a man really is has been changed by society to a sense of pride which is an artificial reaction in an anxious reflection which makes man to be forever comparing himself with others and even finding his sole pleasure in their misfortune or inferiority. Through pride, he is taken outside himself into the realm of illusion and opinion; prevents him from becoming a complete person EP220

A True Society - men are truly citizens; their individual self is sublimated to a communal/public person so that they reflex(ively) identify themselves with society as a whole; accepts it's self interest as their own and only self interest; the general will becomes the real will of all; expressed in law EA 812

Man must be educated for society but not necessarily in its present form EP221

Theory of Opportunity

Education of girls similar to boys in regard to naturalness but different because of gender B 18:37

A girl cannot be educated to be a man. Studies must be on the practical side because a woman should be the center of the family, a housewife, and mother; should strive to please her husband and have a good reputation B 18:37

Theory of Consensus

Man disagrees because of wants, avidity, oppression, desires, pride GB 38:333

Legitimate authority : each man giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; allows security and natural freedom B 18:681

Rule by the general will; expressed in laws to which all submit; represents the public spirit seeking the common good; assumes that everyone's true interests must must coincide B 18:506

Total sovereignity of the state guided by the general will


B - Encyclopedia Britannica 18:37, 42, 506, 681; 28:449

CE - Collier Encyclopedia, Vol 20:245

E - Rappa, S. Alexander, Education in a Free Society: An American History , David McKay Company, Inc 1976, pp 59

EP - Encyclopedia of Philosophy 1967, Vol 7: 218-222

FI - V.T. Tbayer, Formative Ideas in American Education- From the Colonial Period to the Present, Dodd, Mead and Company, Inc. 1965, pp 189-190

GB - Great Books of the Western World, Vol 38:333

MP - Brubacher, John S. Modem Philosophies of Education Mc Graw Hill Book Co 1962, pp 114