Philosophical Questions About Jean Jacque Rousseau John Term Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Term Paper
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Excerpt from Term Paper :

philosophical questions about, Jean Jacque Rousseau, John Dewey, Michel Foucault and Marin Luther King, Jr. It has 4 sources.

Rousseau and Nature"

We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason. All that we lack at birth, all that we need when we come to man's estate, is the gift of education. This education comes to us from nature, from men, or from things."[Rousseau 143].

According to Rousseau out of the three factors involved in a child's development, Nature, is totally uncontrollable. "Nature, we are told, is merely habit."[20] Habits are a product of positive or negative conditioning. As a child grows in reason he uses judgment to modify his natural tendencies but often this process becomes warped due to already embedded habits. Harmony within is affected when natural tendencies conflict with what a child learns at the hands of society and other men. A man must thus choose to follow either society or his own nature, a balance being impossible due to a faulty education.

According to Rousseau a natural education is one which does not impart knowledge rather creates circumstances that allow the pupil to learn from his environment and his own natural capabilities. Such an education which took in account differences of situation and person, in his opinion, would be that which is most suited for specific individuals.

His goal in Emile was to produce what was to him the ideal 'the natural man', who "lives for himself; he is the unit, the whole, dependent only on himself and on his like." [7] Natural man and citizen were two parts of the human fraction that according to Rousseau together formed a community. Trying to develop both in modern society inevitably led to confusion. The values of either were too opposing.

To be something, to be himself, and always at one with himself, a man must act as he speaks, must know what course he ought to take, and must follow that course with vigor and persistence." [57] A natural man would be free, self sufficient, content, and believe himself the equal of all men. This says Rousseau is the natural instincts of children before they are altered and restructured by social experiences and lessons from books, men, and things. Social education teaches children to use their imaginations, and higher intellectual powers, develop self-governance and not act immediately on instinct, and also learn religion and morality. He writes that "one must not confound what is natural in the savage state with what is natural in the civil state." (p.406). There are advantages then in both that help in molding the 'natural man.'

Human beings are naturally good.... nature provides for them and does not fill them with tempting and corrupting illusions; in this arrangement human beings are free, equal, and happy. They are also, most importantly, independent, since they do not rely upon anyone else to satisfy their physical and psychological wants."[50] If a child was allowed to grow according to his inherent inclinations Rousseau believed only positive results would be produced. Society according to him corrupted by creating inequality thus decreasing freedom and self-reliance and also by creating unnatural desires for such things as fame, fortune and power over others.

He acknowledged however that living in society was a necessity and we could not retreat into the jungles so as to enhance our natural selves:

The dangers of society make art and care all the more indispensable for us to forestall in the human heart the depravity born of their new needs." (p.214)

The problem was how to create the same balance of freedom, independence, equality, and happiness in society as there was in nature. The solution to the dilemma according to him was a new emphasis and viewpoint of education. Rousseau believed that by teaching through experience and not books, avoiding imagination and fables and encouraging the search for truth and facts a child would be pushed towards enriching and enhancing himself rather than forming a copy of what society believed was ideal.

Education was important to form a natural man while remaining in society for as he said, "Although I want to form the man of nature, the object is not, for all that, to make him a savage and to relegate him to the depths of the woods. It suffices that, enclosed in a social whirlpool, he not let himself get carried away by either the opinions or the passions of men, that he see with his eyes, that he feel with his heart, that no authority govern him beyond that of his own reason." (p.255)

John Dewey and Education

The most prominent American political theorists John Dewey argued that technology and economics have eliminated the role of individual and cooperative efforts to bring about commonly desired consequences. According to Dewey the civil society which lies between the government and corporations is been neglected, overlooked and often maliciously deprived by its bigger, more powerful brothers. Dewey suggests that the role of the individual so vital in American democracy in determining social outcomes has been deprived of their proper roles. Both the theorist suggest that a realm of civic society should be created, which promotes discussion and persuasion among communities, families and association which can work to bridge the gap between public sector and private sector. According to Dewey the only way the disintegration of public can be stooped and put individuals and communities back on track in mobilization. Time, persistence and communication are required to nourish genuine attachments, the basis of communal life. Human beings according to Dewey are organizing into a public by means of communication and cooperation, by communication Dewey means the communication between individuals and communities in the form of debates, discussions. The public is disorganized because it is uninformed.

John Dewey's philosophy of education is the kind that revolutionized the way that people thought of education. But this was not his only focus. The crux of his philosophy on various areas such as psychology, education, politics, and social thought, were aimed at uncovering the social and political evils that undermine mankind for centuries. In more descriptive words, his work was concerned with uncovering the causes of the difficulties that are experienced in everyday practical life. The kind of educational philosophy that Dewey developed was through his philosophical pragmatism, concern with interaction, reflection and experience, and interest in community and democracy. Dewey's form of education may be considered as on that has developed through his concern with the welfare of society, and it may be assumed that this was the reason why he attempted to cram a lot of his ideas together. This is the reason why there are certain parts of his educational philosophy that do not fit into any one of the known categories of modern education. As far as informal educationalists are concerned Dewey's philosophy had two basic elements that have inspired many. The first element that he emphasizes on is the essentiality of engaging with and enlarging experience. This is coupled by the second element, which is thinking and reflection - and the associated role of educators. He reinforces the role of educators through these elements.

Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish

Michel Foucault cut a fascinating figure across the face of contemporary philosophy. He is one of the important thinkers of the post-structuralism and post-modernism. Foucault is basically a historian and has devised a new method of the analysis of the past events, which he calls 'archaeology' and 'genealogy'. Foucault's work is divided into two phases; the first phase comprises of his analysis the western culture and its values through the method of archaeology. The second phase is the one in which Foucault analyzes the notion of power and its manifestations with a method called genealogy. This new kind analysis of history and historical was first introduced by Fredrick Nietzsche who emphasized that there were no point of origin for any values and morals. Nietzsche was opposed to a history looked for origins. A genealogy on the other hand of values, morals, and knowledge does not confuse itself with a quest for origins but cultivates the details and accidents that accompany every beginning.

Discipline and punish" is one of the most original and crucial work in the post-structuralism and post-modernist movement in philosophy. It analyses the concept of "punishment" and "discipline" in the social context and how changing power relations affected these two concepts. Continuing with his method of analysis Foucault in his ground breaking work Discipline and Punish describes how the mad's, the vagabonds and criminals became a target of Panopticon. The concept of Panopticon is one of the fascinating concepts by Foucault. He says that modern disciplinary power has become a system of surveillance which is interiorized to the point that each person in his or her overseer. Foucault says that the transformation from monarchical power to disciplinary power has given rise to Panopticon. The Panopticon is a machine in which everyone is caught and which no…

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