Title: Émile, ou De L’Éducation
Author: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Publisher: Libraire De Firmin Didot Frere et Fils, 1844, Paris.
Condition: Hardcover, leather spine. In very good condition for its age, firmly bound.
Please note that all text is in the original French.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism of French expression. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was banned in Paris and Geneva and was publicly burned in 1762. During the French Revolution, Émile served as the inspiration for what became a new national system of education.
The work tackles fundamental political and philosophical questions about the relationship between the individual and society— how, in particular, the individual might retain what Rousseau saw as innate human goodness while remaining part of a corrupting collectivity. Its opening sentence: “Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.”
Rousseau seeks to describe a system of education that would enable the natural man he identifies in The Social Contract (1762) to survive corrupt society. He employs the novelistic device of Émile and his tutor to illustrate how such an ideal citizen might be educated. Émile is scarcely a detailed parenting guide but it does contain some specific advice on raising children. It is regarded by some as the first philosophy of education in Western culture to have a serious claim to completeness.