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Rousseau on Education, Freedom, and Judgment

DENISE SCHAEFFER
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/j.ctt32bb1t
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    Rousseau on Education, Freedom, and Judgment
    Book Description:

    In Rousseau on Education, Freedom, and Judgment, Denise Schaeffer challenges the common view of Rousseau as primarily concerned with conditioning citizens’ passions in order to promote republican virtue and unreflective patriotic attachment to the fatherland. Schaeffer argues that, to the contrary, Rousseau’s central concern is the problem of judgment and how to foster it on both the individual and political level in order to create the conditions for genuine self-rule. Offering both a detailed commentary on Rousseau’s major work on education, Emile, and wide-ranging analysis of the relationship between Emile and several of Rousseau’s other works, Schaeffer explores Rousseau’s understanding of what good judgment is, how it is learned, and why it is central to the achievement and preservation of human freedom. The model of Rousseauian citizenship that emerges from Schaeffer’s analysis is more dynamic and self-critical than is often acknowledged. This book demonstrates the importance of Rousseau’s contribution to our understanding of faculty of judgment, and, more broadly, invites a critical reevaluation of Rousseau’s understanding of education, citizenship, and both individual and collective freedom.

    eISBN: 978-0-271-06262-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vi-vii)
  4. ABREVIATIONS OF ROUSSEAU’S WORKS
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    The idea of democracy presupposes that human beings are capable of exercising judgment, since it requires citizens who are capable of making judgments about a shared public world. The question of how to foster this capacity in individuals is thus a fundamental question for political philosophy. Yet the process by which the ability to exercise good judgment is acquired and nurtured remains somewhat mysterious, despite a rich intellectual history of the subject.¹ This indeterminacy has to do with the very nature of judgment. As Ronald Beiner states in his landmark bookPolitical Judgment,“Judgment is a form of mental activity...

  6. 1 JUDGMENT AND THE STANDARD OF NATURE
    (pp. 16-35)

    Whatever else good judgment means for Rousseau, it is certainly grounded in his understanding of nature, which provides a standard against which civil society is to be judged. To what degree, and in what sense (i.e., whether substantively or as a formal standard of wholeness), nature remains relevant to human beings living in society is the subject of much scholarly debate; but Rousseau is unequivocal on the point that a poor or deformed understanding of nature leads to unsound judgment of the human condition. Thus in his preface to theSecond Discoursehe claims that a correct understanding of the...

  7. 2 LEARNING TO MOVE: The Body, the Senses, and the Foundations of Judgment
    (pp. 36-62)

    The first three books ofEmileare generally understood to constitute Emile’s “negative” (93;4:323) education, that is, an education designed to preserve his natural wholeness while forestalling the development of prejudices and passions (especially amour-propre) by warding off all social influences. Rousseau states that this first, negative education “consists not at all in teaching virtue or truth but in securing the heart from vice and the mind from error.” One must “let childhood ripen in children” (94;4:324) rather than hurry to fill their minds and souls with lessons and virtues that they are unprepared to acquire, and that are unnecessary...

  8. 3 BOOKS AND EXPERIENCE IN THE EDUCATION OF JUDGMENT
    (pp. 63-84)

    I have argued that the issue of learning (growing, changing) while staying in place, or combining integrity and change, is a fundamental challenge of Emile’s education—and, more broadly for Rousseau, the fundamental challenge of what it means to be truly human, insofar as human beings are understood to possess both an original nature and the quality of perfectibility. This issue is present inEmilefrom the outset, but from the moment that Rousseau shifts focus from the child to “the child whom one wants to make wise” (166;4:428), the task of combining integrity and change dominates his educational project....

  9. 4 JUDGMENT AND PITY
    (pp. 85-106)

    The first half of Emile’s education is concerned primarily with bodies in motion. First, the practical child-rearing advice of book I focuses on freeing the infant’s limbs from swaddling blankets, shoes, and other unnaturally debilitating constraints. In book II, Emile learns to run and to sharpen his senses. The scientific inquiries undertaken in book III are launched by the question, “Why did this stone fall?” As he approaches adolescence, Emile has learned a thing or two about bodies in motion, and he is little more than a body in motion. “He has a healthy body, agile limbs, a precise and...

  10. 5 PIETY AND AUTHORITY
    (pp. 107-133)

    We began with a political problem: while Rousseau’s political theory holds out the promise of genuine democratic freedom, the means by which he proposes to secure this freedom seems to undermine that very freedom at its core. In his discussion of religion in book IV ofEmile,this problem resurfaces in a new register. On the one hand, Rousseau purports to offer the Savoyard Vicar’s profession of faith as a “model for how to reason with one’s pupil,” with a view to encouraging the pupil to form his own judgments in matters of faith rather than accept received dogmas. On...

  11. 6 JUDGMENT, LOVE, AND ILLUSION
    (pp. 134-157)

    On the surface, Rousseau’s discussion of love in book V ofEmileseems focused principally on the cultivation of virtue and has little to do with the cultivation of judgment. Rousseau’s earlier rhetoric about the importance of Emile’s thinking his own thoughts disappears, replaced by a concern with directing his pupil toward a healthy sociability and preventing sexual debauchery. “I shall make him moderate by making him fall in love” (327;4:654). Emile falls in love with a woman named Sophie who exists as an idealized poetic construction in his imagination long before he meets her in person. The lure of...

  12. 7 JUDGMENT AND THE POSSIBILITY OF PARTIAL DETACHMENT
    (pp. 158-173)

    Immediately after finishingEmile,Rousseau began working on a sequel,Emile et Sophie, ou Les Solitaires, which remained incomplete at the time of his death in 1778. The work consists of two letters from Emile to his absent tutor. In the first, Emile describes the events that led to the dissolution of his marriage to Sophie and laments the psychic pain that he has experienced as a result. In the second (unfinished) letter, Emile relates that he has become a new man, entirely free of his former attachments and reminiscent of the “abstract man” of book I ofEmile.No...

  13. 8 JUDGMENT AND CITIZENSHIP
    (pp. 174-196)

    I have argued that the ultimate purpose of Rousseau’s educational project as it unfolds inEmileis the cultivation of good judgment, the cornerstone of which he sees as the ability to discern the illusions that cloud our view of human relationships without becoming either thoroughly seduced or thoroughly disillusioned. As we have seen,Emileadvocates a large dose of manipulation and deception in early childhood, but as his pupil reaches adolescence Rousseau introduces a shift, such that Emile is ultimately educated away from such contrivances and toward independent judgment and self-knowledge. This is reflected in Rousseau’s depiction of a...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 197-216)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 217-232)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 233-233)