Rousseau's Emile

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    “Amour-propre” is one of the central ideas of Rousseau’s Philosophy, whether it be Political Philosophy or Philosophy of Education. When the passions and our imagination reign in our lives, according to Kant and the Greek Philosophers we pursue happiness and not virtue. The only book Emile is permitted in his Robinson like education by his Robinson like tutor (who reminds one of the lonely sole of Descartes meditating in a snow bound cottage where winter has detained him), is Robinson Crusoe. This figure is meant to prevent teach Emile to respect the necessities of nature and not don the chains of amour propre and become a slave to his fears and his vanity. In parts the novel expresses the Philosophy of Asclepius and the medicine that is practiced in accordance with the laws of nature(All men are mortal, we owe nature a death) and denigrates the medicine motivated by the fear of death and the emotion of self love which is fleeing from the fundamental facts and necessities of nature. Emile is supposed to fall in love with the idea of the noble savage and adopt a critical attitude towards the society which imprisons man in a manner similar to those governesses who swathe the infants they care for in so many clothes that their growth is stunted and they are forced to cry out in their discontent and discomfort. When they do so Rousseau anticipates Freud and sees in this clinical phenomenon crocodile tears: tears that are used to bend the governesses to the will and passion of the infant and form an attitude of mind which will thenceforward treat other men as means to ends rather than as Kantian ends in themselves. This not however a Kantian account and Kant will later modify Rousseau’s account by insisting that the freedom that Rousseau is talking about is an idea of practical reason in which all men have the potentiality(which very few develop fully) to use. In this use they are free not to pursue a Robinson like haven of comfort but rather to evaluate whether one has worth as a person via actions which follow the call of duty.

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