Presentation on theme: "Problem/Solution Servitude/Liberty Rousseau. Essay question How did Plato and Rousseau believe education could transform social relations? (2000-2500."— Presentation transcript:
Essay question How did Plato and Rousseau believe education could transform social relations? (2000-2500 words). Deadline –Wednesday week 6, October 31st
Rousseau: problem and solution The problem: Servitude - imposed justice and unquestioned obligations of society (including the church or state); societal prejudice and dependence. The solution: Liberty - self-interest as the basis of societal engagement; individual reason and independence.
Problem: Servitude - Solution: Liberty ‘For his own part, [Emile] has all he wants within his reach. How should he be dependent on any one when he is self-sufficing and free from prejudice? Strong arms, good health, moderation, few needs, together with the means to satisfy those needs, are his. He has been brought up in complete liberty and servitude is the greatest ill he understands. He pities these miserable kings, the slaves of all who obey them; he pities all these false prophets fettered by their empty fame; he pities these rich fools, martyrs to their own pomp; he pities these ostentatious voluptuaries, who spend their life in deadly dullness that they may seem to enjoy its pleasures. He would pity the very foe that harmed him, for he would discern the wretchedness beneath his cloak of spite. He would say to himself, “This man has yielded to his desire to hurt me, and this need of his places him at my mercy.”’ (Rousseau, 1974: 206)
The problem Servitude - imposed justice and obligations of society (including the church or state); societal prejudice and dependence. He thought that people had become slaves of illusory desires, unquestioned moral laws and an unessesary reliance on others. He opposed societally determined interests and desires which would be based on abstract prejudices rather than subjectively reasoned through experience. ‘Such, in fact, is the true cause of all these differences; the savage lives in himself; the man accustomed to the ways of society is always outside himself and knows how to live only in the opinion of others. And it is, as it were, from their judgment alone that draws the sentiment of him own existence.’ (Rousseau, pg. 80-81, 1987)
The problem The main thrust of Rousseau’s attacks are directed at perceived contemporary delusions of societal, political, religious or scientific predicates for reason, as well as what he considers to be the un-virtuous and corrupt desires of individuals. For him it is unjustifiable to separate oneself from one’s own reason and opinions by falling under the dominion of someone else’s or, alternatively, to selfishly dislocate one’s reason from temporality by forgetting the part society has played in protecting one’s life and liberty.
The solution Liberty - self-interest as the basis of society; individual reason and independence. Rousseau wanted a society which was of free of dependence as possible. Rousseau uses subjective, self-interested reason to rid political and educational thought of prejudice and dependence, including dependence on moral law. ‘Our first duties are to ourselves; our first feelings are centred on self; all our instincts are at first directed to our own preservation and our own welfare. Thus the first notion of justice springs not from what we owe to others, but from what is due to us. Here is another error in popular methods of education. If you talk to children of their duties, and not of their rights, you are beginning at the wrong end, and telling them what they cannot understand, what cannot be of any interest to them.’ (Rousseau, pg. 61, 1974)
The solution Reason should not be taught but learned. The educator needed to be a facilitator of the development of liberty and application of individual reason. Citizens should be responsible to their society because it is and has been responsible for them; it is a reasonable responsibility. Education and society should serve the individual and protect their liberty – but that liberty is determined by a lack of dependence on corrupt desires, meaning that education and society must also protect the individual from using their liberty to become a slave.
Questions Why did Rousseau think that a focus on self-interest might transform society? What might a more ‘natural’ self-interest be? If nature is good does that mean natural self-interest is good? How might self-interest put society’s prejudices in question? How might self-interest make societal relations more natural? Why might it stop people from wanting things they don’t need? If people are less dependent, are they more free?
References Rousseau, J-J. (1974) Emile London: Everyman Rousseau, J-J. (1987) The Basic Political Writings Cambridge: Hackett
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