Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name





Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 1712-1778


In these, the opening words of Emile, Rousseau admits us to a knowledge of one of the principles of his thought. Everything is good, he thinks, as it comes from the hand of God. It becomes bad through the interference of man with the work of nature. We might assume, then, that the interference is bad, and that man was better, more virtuous, before he was interfered with, or educated. And as a matter of fact, Rousseau found some such answer to the problem when it first presented itself to him. In Emile he finds another and more practical solution, that of making man’s interference with nature beneficial, rather than harmful to himself. This solution is possible, he thinks, by educating man in such a way as to allow him the greatest possible freedom to follow his own desires, and the greatest possible natural development. In other words, he holds up the natural as an ideal to be pursued, and he devotes the whole of the Emile to a complete plan for the pursuit of that ideal in the education of man.