'Emile: Or On Education'
By Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Author), Allan Bloom (Translator)
Alan Bloom’s new translation of Emile, Rousseau’s masterpiece on the education and training of the young, is the first in more than seventy years. In it, Bloom, whose magnificent translation of Plato’s Republic has been universally hailed as a virtual rediscovery of that timeless text, again brings together the translator’s gift for journeying between two languages and cultures and the philosopher’s perception of the true meaning and significance of the issues being examined in the work. The result is a clear, readable, and highly engrossing text that at the same time offers a wholly new sense of the importance and relevance of Rousseau’s thought to us.In addition to his translation, Bloom provides a brilliant introduction that relates the structure and themes of the book to the vital preoccupation's of our own age, particularly in the field of education, but also more generally to the current concerns about the limits and possibilities of human nature. Thus in this translation Emile, long a classic in the history of Western thought and educational theory, becomes something more: a prescription, fresh and dazzling, for the bringing up of autonomous, responsible—that is, truly democratic—human beings.
A contemporary of Voltaire, Rousseau was also a French philosopher who, however, spent much of his time in Switzerland where he wrote most of the works which were to inspire the leaders of the French Revolution. He came from a Calvinist background, but converted to Roman Catholicism. He was also interested in literature and music and wrote the article on music for Diderot's Encyclopedie. He also composed musical pieces though without much success. Later in life Rousseau turned back to Protestantism while living in Geneva which was then the major center of Protestant thought. His most important works are Emile, about education, and a treatise on social contract which caused storms politically and brought much opposition against him. In fact, he was exiled and went to England, returning incognito to Paris where he wrote his famous Confessions and where he died.
Again as in the case of Voltaire, the influence of Rousseau was great not only in the philosophical field but also ilJ practical political move- ments especially the French Revolution, and he was also highly admired by a number of the founders of the United States. Likewise, Rousseau's educational ideas wielded much influence and have been discussed by many Muslim educators during the past century.
(Seyyed Hossein Nasr)