GLOSSARY – on “Rousseau, an Introduction to his Radical Thinking on Education and Politics”, by Kenneth Wain

GLOSSARY. On Rousseau, An Introduction to his Radical Thinking on Education and Politics 

Author Kenneth Wain, University of Malta

  • ALIENATION: Became a central concept in Marxian theory (via the influences of Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72) and Georg-Wilhelm Hegel (1770–1821) where it became identified as an effect of capitalism and its system of production. Alienation marks a condition whereby the actual conditions of life in society are contrary to man’s ‘species being’ or ‘essential humanity’ which is ‘his’ power to be creative. In the Marxian analysis workers in a capitalist system are cogs in a machine, instruments of the productive apparatus, estranged (alienated) from the process of production, from their product, and from their fellow-workers.
  • AMOUR DE SOI: Literally ‘self-love’, one of the two sentiments, together with ‘pity’, Rousseau identified as natural to ‘men’. Amour de soi derives from the instinct of selfpreservation which men share with all animals. It is not clear that he wanted to extend this sentiment to women. On the other hand, though he described man’s self-love as being entirely self-centred in a natural setting, he distinguished it from a selfcentred narcissism in a social setting, in the first nuclear family for instance, where care for oneself needs to be redefined also as care for others.
  • AMOUR-PROPRE: Rousseau describes the features of amour-propre in several places in his work; in modern parlance it can be described as inauthenticity; to live not honestly in one’s own eyes and in one’s own light, but in the eyes of others. Amour-propre is not an unnatural quality, to the contrary it is natural for social man; the approval of the other is the basis for all human relationships. Rousseau writes about “the natural game of amour-propre,” which is “to see what one believes and not what one sees,” (1776a:1990, p. 64) and describes it as “the principle of all wickedness” (p. 100) and “a useful but dangerous instrument,” (p. 221)
  • ANALYTIC PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION: Analytic philosophy is the name for a style of philosophy that came to dominate the English-speaking world of philosophy in the twentieth century. So it was not remarkable that the pioneers who launched the philosophy of education in the middle of the century chose it for their paradigm. Analytic philosophers saw philosophy as a tool for the rigorous analysis of concepts and the validation of arguments and underplayed the importance of the history of ideas. “Those inspiring this phase of philosophy of education’s development saw themselves as aiming for a coherent and systematic rationalization of educational beliefs and practices.” (Blake et al. 2003, p. 2)
  • AUTHENTICITY: To be authentic is to be true to oneself. This minimal definition assumes a way of thinking that distinguishes an inner self which is one’s true self from an outer self which is one’s behavioural self and which is constructed by one’s experience of living in a society. The distinction is entirely modern. Being authentic means being true to one’s inner self, while being inauthentic means living in the opinion of others, which is what Rousseau meant by amour propre.
  • AUTONOMY: In Enlightenment thinking to be autonomous meant to be directed by laws that one makes for oneself. Worked out as a full ethical theory by Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), influenced by Rousseau, the adjective ‘rational’ has often been added to it, to read ‘rational autonomy’, to emphasise Kant’s doctrine that the laws that one makes for oneself must conform with the universal laws of human reason. Rational autonomy was identified by liberal analytic philosophers of education as the aim of education, distinguished from socialization and, more importantly, indoctrination.
  • BOURGEOIS SOCIETY: In Marxist literature the bourgeoisie are a social and economic class defined by its possession of capital, of the means of economic production, and of a particular culture of possession and exploitation. Their beginnings lie in Medieval times with the rise to political influence of the guild masters, merchants, entrepreneurs, and financiers. In Rousseau’s France bourgeois society was composed of the wealthier members of the Third Estate (the First and the Second were the Higher Clergy and the Nobility) who sat in the Estates General, or parliamentary assembly. They created salons where the philosophes were invited to argue and expound their ideas and show off their brilliance.
  • CARTESIAN: Stemming from the philosophy of the influential French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596–1650). The followers of Descartes are referred to as Cartesians, and the elements of thought that relate or refer to his ideas and theories are called the same. 
  • CONSCIENCE: The word has been variously interpreted and used. For Socrates it was his daemon or guardian spirit, an inner voice that gave him negative guidance; indicating what he should not do rather than what he should. The English moralist bishop Joseph Butler (1692–1752) distinguished two aspects of conscience: (a) where it performs a cognitive or reflective function as a tool for judgement of persons and actions; and (b) where it is imperative or authoritarian telling us what course of action we must take. Rousseau refers to it as an ‘inner voice’ of God speaking directly to ‘man’ which cannot, therefore, in its judgments, be wrong. 
  • DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: The systematic study of psychological changes human beings go through over their life-span. Some studies take environment factors, particularly social, into account, others regard cognitive development more narrowly. Jean Piaget’s (1896–1980) theory, which pioneered the field, divides cognitive development (or how humans acquire knowledge), into four stages: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational. The theory has been challenged on different grounds since Piaget.  
  • DIDACTIC: That which has the purpose of teaching or instructing. The science and art of teaching in general is referred to in some countries as ‘didactics’, in others as ‘pedagogy’. The latter term is used throughout this book. 
  • DIJON ACADEMY: The Dijon Academy of Science and Fine Letters was founded by Hector Bernard Pouffier, Dean of the Parliament of Bourgogne. The October 1749 issue of Mercure de France announced the topic of the 1750 competition as whether the restoration of the sciences and the arts contributed to the purification of morals. The prize for the winner was a gold medallion. (Cress 1987, xxi)
  • EQUALITY: An important concept in the work of Rousseau. “… the farther we are removed from equality, the more our natural sentiments are corrupted,” he says in Emile. (1762b:1991, p. 406) He distinguished two kinds; natural and social, and insisted that though nothing can be legitimately done about natural inequalities (in height, intelligence, etc.), social inequalities, which were originally created with the institution of property, need to be eradicated from society in the name of natural justice – a belief that was followed later by different kinds of socialists and anarchists.
  • EMPIRICISM: A school of thought usually identified with the English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) but which can be referred further back to Aristotle who was the first to describe the human mind as a tabula rasa (empty slate or tablet). Empiricists hold that all human knowledge comes from experience, or from the senses, and dismiss the rationalist belief that there are ‘innate ideas’. Later followers of Locke were George Berkley (1685–1753) and David Hume (1711–76). The support for empiricism among the philosophes was wide-spread with Voltaire (1694–1778) its leading voice. 
  • ENCYCLOPAEDIA: Jointly edited by Denis Diderot (1713–84) and Jean d’Alembert (1717–83) initially, then by Diderot alone, the Encyclopaedia, or rational dictionary of the sciences, arts and crafts, is regarded as one of the great monuments of the Enlightenment expressing the spirit of inquiry and revolt of the age in the name of reason. A best seller in its times, printing to around 25,000 copies in 1789 at the time of the French Revolution, its first volume was published in June 1751. After many transitions in style and content and as a political and economic venture it appeared last as the Encylopedie Methodique around 1830. 
  • ENLIGHTENMENT: A loose intellectual movement which grew in many countries of Europe in the eighteenth century. But its prelude was in the seventeenth century which is known as the ‘Age of Reason’ because of the advances registered in human knowledge (science especially), and education in this period. The ‘movement’ promoted a scientific and rational approach to the world and criticised the institutions, beliefs, and practices, religious, moral, cultural and political of the time. Its spirit is captured in Immanuel Kant’s (1724–1804) seminal essay An answer to the question:What is Enlightenment? dated September 1784. 
  • ENLIGHTENMENT RATIONALISM: In Meditations (1641) Rene Descartes (1596–1650) had claimed that reason is the only reliable source of human knowledge. This belief, known as rationalism, goes with a theory of innate ideas, and of knowledge as a matter of turning the eye into the soul. In other words, it goes back to Plato who also held the same view about the relationship of reason with knowledge. Enlightenment rationalism refers to the positions held by the seventeenth-century philosophers Baruch Spinoza (1632–77), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz (1646–1716), and, to a lesser extent Nicolas Malebranche (1638–1715), beside Descartes.  
  • GENERAL WILL: Rousseau’s theory of the general will is fundamental to his political philosophy. As an idea it first appears in a systematic form in the Third Discourse but received its full expression in the Social Contract. Rousseau defined it as “a form of association which defends and protects with all common forces the person and goods of each associate, and by means of which each one, while uniting with all, nevertheless obeys only himself and remains as free as before.” (1762a:1987, p. 148) 
  • INFORMAL EDUCATION: Sometimes referred to as education from experience it is the kind which the learner receives unconsciously and through sources which do not involve the direct instruction of a teacher. It may be natural or involve the conscious manipulation of the environment, material, social, or natural, by the teacher for the learner to interact with profitably. 
  • LAZARIST: Lazarists were members of the Congregation of the Priests of the Mission, an institute founded by Vincent de Paul in 1624. The name came from the College of St. Lazare, in Paris, which they occupied until 1792. 
  • MATERIALISM: Commonly understood as the doctrine that whatever exists is matter, or entirely dependent on matter for its existence. It denies the Cartesian distinction of the human self into mind and matter and leads to a physicalist outlook which identifies the mind with the brain. Early materialists were the Greek natural pre-Socratic philosophers Anaxagoras (c.500–428 BC), Epicurus (341–271 BC), and Democritus (c.460–c.370 BC). In Enlightenment times, Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and Pierre Gassandi (1592–1655), then Holbach (1723–89), Denis Diderot (1713–84), and some other minor thinkers were materialists. Karl Marx (1818–83) and Friedrich Engels (1820–95) later created a philosophy of dialectical materialism and a materialist account of history with economics as its basis. 
  • MODERNITY: A complex term with many meanings. Stuart Hall et al. describe it as “that unique form of social life which characterizes modern societies” which began to emerge in the fifteenth century, though the idea of ‘the modern’ was only given “a decisive formulation in the discourse of the Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.” Its historical evolution has since been “long and complex” and shaped by different national and international forces giving rise to economic, social, and political institutions which, in turn, have grown in their complexity. (1992, pp. 2–3) 
  • NATURAL LAW: An ancient doctrine that was put to a variety of uses in different cultural contexts and at different times, and is contrasted with positive law which is man-made. In Western philosophy the notion of a natural law is customarily dated back to Aristotle (384–322 BC). For Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) natural law was a precept of reason which instigates human beings to love themselves and preserve their own lives at all costs. Rousseau terms this amour de soi and adds another impulse, pity, to it as its social counterpart. 
  • NATURAL RIGHT: The most important early modern version of the theory was John Locke’s (1632–1704) who believed that human beings are naturally rational and (before Rousseau) good. Locke modified the Medieval doctrines of natural law to argue that because individuals are natural beings they have rights that they bring into society and which no other person or collective could deny them. Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and Rousseau, in their own ways and both employing the mechanism of the social contract to show how these rights were safeguarded in a political context, followed on similar lines.
  • NEGATIVE EDUCATION: Negative education is education without instruction and without any pre-defined pedagogical goals on the tutor’s part, an education of prevention (from exposure to vice, undue precociousness, the misuse of reason, and so on) rather than action – of ensuring the unfolding of the natural capacities rather than forming the learner with a pre-defined programme. Rousseau defines the principle very succinctly in Emile when he says that the Tutor is “to govern without precepts and to do all by doing nothing,” though this is not quite precise since, in actual fact, the Tutor must be in total control of the experiential environment of the pupil to eliminate any potentially harmful features. (Strong 2002, p. 117) “I cannot repeat too often that good education must always be negative education,” Rousseau said, aimed to “choke off the vices before they are born.” (1771:1985, p. 21) 
  • PEDAGOGY: The art and science of teaching (see didactic). 
  • PERFECTIBILITY: Meaning the indefinite human possibility for self-improvement relative to other human beings and to nature, Rousseau was the first to bring the term into vogue. For Rousseau the capability to perfect oneself distinguishes human beings from non-human animals. However this capability, he held, does not guarantee moral progress; education in the virtues alone could achieve this. 
  • PHILOSOPHES: A heterogeneous group of French thinkers with a wide variety of intellectual interests, scientific, literary, educational, philosophical, political etc., and with aspirations for social and institutional reform and the improvement of humanity, who became influential at the time of the Enlightenment. They believed in the possibility of human progress, advocated tolerance, and supported the advance of scientific and rational thought, and education. Francois-Marie Arouet, or as he signed himself, Voltaire (1694–1778), was its most influential member, others were Diderot (1713–84), Montesquieu (1689–1755), d’Alembert (1717–83), etc. 
  • Port Royal Philosophy/Jansenists: One of the great schools of the century, the Port Royal school was inspired by the work of Cornelius Jansen (1535–1638), a controversial Catholic bishop and Augustinian theologian opponent of the Jesuits, who was for a time regius professor of scriptural interpretation at Leuven. The Port-Royale convent was closed down in 1661 and the community dispersed, but its thinking persevered afterwards in many ways. Jansenist thinking emphasized original sin and the inherent depravity of humanity, hence the necessity of divine grace for salvation, and taught the doctrine of predestination. 
  • POSITIVISM: A philosophical school of thought which dates back to Francis Bacon (1521–1626) and the British empiricist school of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for which all genuine human knowledge must belong to the observable and experienced, and contained within the boundaries of science. It, therefore, warns against the claims of theology and metaphysics, and restricts the function of philosophy to rigorously examining and explaining the scope and methods of science and exploring the implications of science for human life. Jean-August Comte (1798–1857), in the nineteenth century, sought to extend the methods of scientific investigation into the realm of human behaviour and pioneered sociology. 
  • POSTMODERNISM: A word with a largely controversial and indeterminate meaning. Commonly used in scholarly circles to accord with Jean Francois Lyotard’s (1924–98) famous definition of it in his book The Postmodern Condition (1979), to mark a deep ‘incredulity’ or distrust of metanarratives, particularly those of the Enlightenment, with which modernity came to age and grew; those of justice, freedom, rationality, and the like. 
  • PROGRESSIVE EDUCATION: The term ‘progressive’ was used in the late nineteenth century to distinguish the ‘new’ methods of teaching from the traditional. Progressive education, like Emile, roots education in experience, but, beside Rousseau, it drew much also from Friedrich Froebel (1781–1852), Johann Pestalozzi (1746–1827), and Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776–1845). Other strong emphases were on problem solving, on an integrated curriculum, cooperative learning, learning by doing, and children’s projects. A Progressive Education Movement founded in America by Stanwood Cobb (1881–1982) in 1919 continued until 1955. 
  • PROGRESSIVISM: As a general term is linked with an attitude favourable to change or reform, the platform of John Dewey’s (1859–1952) educational thinking. Its contrary is traditionalism. Not surprisingly, progressivist educators set their thinking in opposition to the traditional curriculum. Dewey, who supported progressivism early on rejected the practice of dichotomising progressive and traditional education in this way later. 
  • SOCIAL CONTRACT: (see state of nature) The concept dates back at least to Plato’s time and to the sophist Lycophron. Plato (427–347 BC) himself discussed it, after a fashion, in the Gorgias and the Republic, but it was brought into the foreground of modern political philosophy by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679), John Locke (1632–1704) and Rousseau. Its most influential recent version is undoubtedly that found in the liberal political philosopher John Rawls’ (1921–2002) book A Theory of Justice (1972:1973). 
  • STATE OF NATURE: Refers to humanity’s original state of being before the introduction of civil society; i.e. the state of being absolutely free from laws and moral constraints. State of nature theories were popular in the Enlightenment period, but the first influential theory in politics was Thomas Hobbes’ (1588–1679). Rousseau was right to point out that any such a theory must be hypothetical. Hobbes presented a negative picture of the state of nature and held that a social contract which set up civil society was required to redeem humans from the barbaric and desperate state it signified for them. John Locke (1632–1704) and Rousseau presented alternative, more optimistic, views. But Denis Diderot (1713–84), for instance, rightly held that although the study of humankind was a worthy enterprise it was bound to be inconclusive because since there is no one single human type there is no one model of human nature either.
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