Rousseau and the education of compassion

Abstract

In this paper I examine Rousseau's strategy for teaching compassion in Book Four of Emile. In particular, I look at the three maxims on compassion that help to organise Rousseau's discussion, and the precise strategy that Emile's tutor uses to instil compassion while avoiding other passions, such as anger, fear and pride. The very idea of an education in compassion is an important one: Rousseau's discussion remains relevant, and he has correctly understood the significance of compassion for modern life. But in linking compassion to self-interest, he creates a tension between Emile's natural sentiments, including compassion, as a way of bringing him into the social order. The Buddhist and Christian views of compassion help to clarify some of the difficulties with Rousseau's account.

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References found in this work

The Theory of Moral Sentiments.Adam Smith - 1759 - Dover Publications.
The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Summa Theologica.Thomasn D. Aquinas - 1274 - Hayes Barton Press.
A Rousseau Dictionary.C. J. B. & N. J. H. Dent - 1993 - Philosophical Quarterly 43 (173):582.

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