Emile, or Education

Book 4

How swiftly life passes here below The first quarter of it is gone before we know how to use it; the last quarter finds us incapable of enjoying life. At first we do not know how to live; and when we know how to live it is too late. In the interval between these two useless extremes we waste three-fourths of our time sleeping, working sorrowing, enduring restraint and every kind of suffering. Life is short, not so much because of the short time it lasts, but because we are allowed scarcely any time to enjoy it. In vain is there a long interval between the hour of death and that of birth; life is still too short, if this interval is not well spent.

We are born, so to speak, twice over; born into existence, and born into life; born a human being, and born a man. Those who regard woman as an imperfect man are no doubt mistaken, but they have the external resemblance on their side. Up to the age of puberty children of both sexes have little to distinguish them to the eye, the same face and form, the same complexion and voice, everything is the same; girls are children and boys are children; on name is enough for creatures so closely resembling one another. Males whose development is arrested preserve this resemblance all their lives; they are always big children; and women who never lose this resemblance seem in many respects never to be more than children.

But, speaking generally, man is not meant to remain a child. He leaves childhood behind him at the time ordained by nature; and this critical moment, short enough in itself, has far-reaching consequences.

As the roaring of the waves precedes the tempest, so the murmur of rising passions announces this tumultuous change; a suppressed excitement warns us of the approaching danger. A change of temper, frequent outbreaks of anger, a perpetual stirring of the mind, make the child almost ungovernable. He becomes deaf to the voice he used to obey; he is a lion in a fever; he distrusts his keeper and refuses to be controlled.

With the moral symptoms of a changing temper there are perceptible changes in appearance. his countenance develops and takes the stamp of his character; the soft and sparse down upon his cheeks becomes darker and stiffer. His voice grows hoarse or rather he loses it altogether. He is neither a child nor a man and cannot speak like either of them. His eyes, those organs of the soul which till now were dumb, find speech and meaning; a kindling fire illumines them, there is still a sacred innocence in their ever brightening glance, but they have lost their first meaningless expression; he is already aware that they can say too much; he is beginning to learn to lower his eyes and blush, he is becoming sensitive, though he does not know what it is that he feels; he is uneasy without knowing why. All this may happen gradually and give you time enough; but if his keenness becomes impatience, his eagerness madness, if he is angry and sorry all in a moment, if he weeps without cause, if in the presence of objects which are beginning to be a source of danger his pulse quickens and his eyes sparkle if he trembles when a woman’s hand touches his, if he is troubled or timid in her presence, O Ulysses, wise Ulysses! have a care! The passages you closed with so much pains are open; the winds are unloosed; keep your hand upon the helm or all is lost.

This is the second birth I spoke of; then it is that man really enters upon life; henceforth no human passion is a stranger to him. Our efforts so far have been child’s play, now they are of the greatest importance. This period when education is usually finished is just the time to begin; but to explain this new plan properly, let us take up our story where we left it.

Our passions are the chief means of self- preservation; to try to destroy them is therefore as absurd as it is useless; this would be to overcome nature, to reshape God’s handiwork. If God bade man annihilate the passions he has given him, God would bid him be and not be; He would contradict himself. He has never given such a foolish commandment, there is nothing like it written on the heart of man, and what God will have a man do, He does not leave to the words of another man, He speaks himself; His words are written in the secret heart.

Now I consider those who would prevent the birth of the passions almost as foolish as those who would destroy them, and those who think this has been my object hitherto are greatly mistaken...

Our natural passions are few in number; they are the means to freedom, they tend to self-preservation. All those which enslave and destroy us have another source; nature does not bestow them on us; we seize on them in her despite.

The origin of our passions, the root and spring of all the rest the only one which is born with man, which never leaves him as long as he lives, is self-love; this passion is primitive, instinctive, it precedes all the rest, which are in a sense only modifications of it. In this sense if you like, they are all natural. But most of these modifications are the result of external influences, without which they would never occur, and such modifications, far from being advantageous to us, are harmful. They change the original purpose and work against its end; then it is that man finds himself outside nature and at strife with himself.

Self love is always good, always in accordance with the order of nature. The preservation of our own life is specially entrusted to each one of us, and our first care is, and must be, to watch over our own life; and how can we continually watch over it, if we do not take the greatest interest in it?

Self-preservation requires, therefore, that we shall love ourselves, we must love ourselves above everything, and it follows directly from this that we love what contributes to our preservation... At first this attachment is quite unconscious; the individual is attracted to that which contributes to his welfare and repelled by that which is harmful; this is merely blind instinct. What transforms this instinct into feeling, the liking into love, the aversion into hatred, is the evident intention of helping or hurting us... Something does us good, we seek after it; but we love the person who does us good; something harms us and we shrink from it, but we hate the person who tries to hurt us.

The child’s first sentiment is self-love, his second, which is derived from it, is love of those about him; for in his present state of weakness he is only aware of people through the help and attention received from them... It takes a long time to discover not merely that they are useful to him, but that they desire to be useful to him, and then it is that he begins to love them... the expansions of his relations, his needs, his dependence, active or passive, the consciousness of his relations to others is awakened, and leads to the sense of duties and preferences. Then the child becomes masterful, jealous, deceitful, and vindictive. If he is not compelled to obedience, when he does not see the usefulness of what he is told to do, he attributes it to caprice, to an intention of tormenting him, he rebels. If people give in to him, as soon as anything opposes him he regards it as rebellion, as a determination to resist him; he beats the chair or table for disobeying him. Self-love, which concerns itself only with ourselves, is content to satisfy our own needs; but selfishness, which is always comparing self with others, is never satisfied and never can be; for this feeling which prefers ourselves to others, requires that they should prefer us to themselves, which is impossible. Thus the tender and gentle passion spring from self-love, while the hateful and angry passions spring selfishness. So it is the fewness of his needs, the narrow limits within which he can compare himself with others, that makes a man really good; what makes him really bad is a multiplicity of needs and dependence on the opinions of others. It is easy to see how we can apply this principle and guide every passion of children and men towards good or evil... For this reason, above all, the dangers of social life demand that the necessary skill and care shall be devoted to guarding the human heart against the depravity, which springs from fresh needs.

Man’s proper study is that of his relation to his environment. So long as he only knows that environment through his physical nature, he should study himself in relation to things; this is the business of his childhood; when he begins to be aware of his moral nature, he should study himself in relation to his fellow-men; this is the business of his whole life, and we have now reached the time when that study should be begun.

As soon as a man needs a companion he is no longer an isolated creature, his heart is no longer alone. All his relations with his species, all the affections of his heart, come into being along with this. His first passion soon arouses the rest... Choice, preferences, individual likings, are the work of reason, prejudice, and habit; time and knowledge are required to make us capable of love; we do not love without comparison. These judgments are none the less real, although they are formed unconsciously. True love, whatever you may say, will always be held in honor by mankind; for although its impulses lead us astray, although it does not bar the door of the heart to certain detestable qualities, although it even gives rise to these, yet it always presupposes certain worthy characteristics, without which we should be incapable of love...

We wish to inspire the preference we feel; love must be mutual. To be loved we must be worthy of love; to be preferred we must be more worthy than the rest, at least in the eyes of our beloved. Hence we begin to look around among our fellows; we begin to compare ourselves with them, there is emulation, rivalry, and jealousy. A heart full to overflowing loves to make itself known; from the need of a mistress there soon springs the need of a friend. He who feels how sweet it is to be loved, desires to be loved by everybody; and there could be no preferences if there were not so many that fail to find satisfaction. With love and friendship there begin dissensions, enmity, and hatred. I behold deference to other people’s opinions enthroned among all these divers passions, and foolish mortals, enslaved by her power, base their very existence merely on what other people think.

Expand these ideas and you will see where we get that form of selfishness which we call natural selfishness, and how selfishness ceases to be a simple feeling and becomes pride in great minds, vanity in little ones, and in both feeds continually at our neighbor’s cost. Passions of this kind, not having any germ in the child’s heart, cannot spring up in it of themselves; it is we who sow the seeds, and they never take root unless by our fault. Not so with the young man; they will find an entrance in spite of us. It is therefore time to change our methods...

The change from childhood to puberty is not so clearly determined by nature but that it varies according to individual temperament and racial conditions... The teaching of nature comes slowly; man’s lessons are mostly premature. In the former case, the senses kindle the imagination, in the latter the imagination kindles the senses... The prim speech imposed upon them, the lessons in good behavior the veil of mystery you profess to hang before their eyes, serve but to stimulate their curiosity. It is plain, from the way you set about it, that they are meant to learn what you profess to conceal; and of all you teach them this is most quickly assimilated...

If the age at which a man becomes conscious of his sex is deferred as much by the effects of education as by the action of nature, it follows that this age may be hastened or retarded according to the way in which the child is brought up... From these considerations I arrive at the solution of the question so often discussed-- Should we enlighten children at an early period as to the objects of their curiosity, or is it better to put them off with decent shams? I think we need do neither. In the first place, this curiosity will not arise unless we give it a chance. We must therefore take care not to give it an opportunity. In the next place, questions one is not obliged to answer do not compel us to deceive those who ask them; it is better to bid the child hold his tongue than to tell him a lie. He will not be greatly surprised at this treatment if you have already accustomed him to it in matters of no importance. Lastly, if you decide to answer his questions, let it be with the greatest plainness, without mystery or confusion, without a smile. It is much less dangerous to satisfy a child’s curiosity than to stimulate it.

Let your answers be always grave, brief, decided, and without trace of hesitation. I need not add that they should be true. We cannot teach children the danger of telling lies to men without realizing, on the man’s part, the danger of telling lies to children...

Complete ignorance with regard to certain matters is perhaps the best thing for children; but let them learn very early what it is impossible to conceal from them permanently. Either their curiosity must never be aroused, or it must be satisfied before the age when it becomes a source of danger... Nothing must be left to chance; and if you are not sure of keeping him in ignorance of the difference between the sexes till he is sixteen, take care you teach him before he is ten...

Although modesty is natural to man, it is not natural to children. Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil; and how should children without this knowledge of evil have the feeling which results from it? To give them lessons in modesty and good conduct is to teach them that there are things shameful and wicked, and to give them a secret wish to know what these things are... Blushes are the sign of guilt; true innocence is ashamed of nothing...

I can only find one satisfactory way of preserving the child’s innocence, to surround him by those who respect and love him. Without this all our efforts to keep him in ignorance fail sooner or later; a smile, a wink, a careless gesture tells him all we sought to hide; it is enough to teach him to perceive that there is something we want to hide from him... There is a certain directness of speech which is suitable and pleasing to innocence; this is the right tone to adopt in order to turn the child from dangerous curiosity...

“Where do little children come from?” This is an embarrassing question, which occurs very naturally to children, one which foolishly or wisely answered may decide their health or their morals for life. The quickest way for a mother to escape from it without deceiving her son is to tell him to hold his tongue. That will serve its turn if he has always been accustomed to it in matters of no importance, and if he does not suspect some mystery from this new way of speaking. But the mother rarely stops there. “It is the married people’s secret,” she will say, “little boys should not be so curious.” That is all very well so far as the mother is concerned, but she may be sure that the little boy, piqued by her scornful manner, will not rest till he has found out the married people’s secret, which will very soon be the case.

Let me tell you a very different answer which I heard given to the same question, one which made all the more impression on me, coming as it did, from a woman, modest in speech and behavior, but one who was able on occasion, for the welfare of her child and for the cause of virtue, to cast aside the false fear of blame and the silly jests of the foolish. Not long before the child had passed a small stone which had torn the passage, but the trouble was over and forgotten. “Mamma,” said the eager child, “where do little children come from?” “My child,” replied his mother without hesitation, “women pass them with pains that sometimes cost their life.” Let fools laugh and silly people be shocked; but let the wise inquire if it is possible to find a wiser answer and one which would better serve its purpose...

Your children read; in the course of their reading they meet with things they would never have known without reading... Do they move in the world of society, they hear a strange jargon, they see conduct which makes a great impression on them; they have been told so continually that they are men that in everything men do in their presence they at once try to find how that will suit themselves; the conduct of others must indeed serve as their pattern when the opinions of others are their law. Servants, dependent on them, and therefore anxious to please them, flatter them at the expense of their morals; giggling governesses say things to the four-year-old child which the most shameless woman would not dare to say to them at fifteen..

The child brought up in accordance with his age is alone. He knows no attachment but that of habit, he loves his sister like his watch, and his friend like his dog. He is unconscious of his sex and his species; men and women are alike unknown... Do you wish to establish law and order among the rising passions, prolong the period of their development, so that they may have time to find their proper place as they arise. Then they are controlled by nature herself, not by man; your task is merely to leave it in her hands. If your pupil were alone, you would have nothing to do; but everything about him enflames his imagination... Imagination must be curbed by feeling and reason must silence the voice of conventionality...

This is the sum of human wisdom with regard to the use of the passions. First, to be conscious of the true relations of man both in the species and the individual; second, to control all the affections in accordance with these relations...

A child sophisticated, polished, and civilized, who is only awaiting the power to put into practice the precocious instruction he has received, is never mistaken with regard to the time when this power is acquired. Far from awaiting it, he accelerates it; he stirs his blood to a premature ferment; he knows what should be the object of his desires long before those desires are experienced. It is not nature which stimulates him; it is he who forces the hand of nature; she has nothing to teach him when he becomes a man; he was a man in thought long before he was a man in reality.

The true course of nature is slower and more gradual. Little by little the blood grows warmer, the faculties expand, the character is formed... The first sentiment of which the well-trained youth is capable is not love but friendship. The first work of his rising imagination is to make known to him his fellows; the species affects him before the sex. Here is another advantage to be gained from prolonged innocence; you may take advantage of his dawning sensibility to sow the first seeds of humanity in the heart of the young adolescent. This advantage is all the greater because this is the only time in his life when such efforts may be really successful.

I have always observed that young men, corrupted in early youth and addicted to women and debauchery, are inhuman and cruel; their passionate temperament makes them impatient, vindictive, and angry... Adolescence is not the age of hatred or vengeance; it is the age of pity, mercy, and generosity... You never heard such a thing; I can well believe that philosophers such as you, brought up among the corruption of the public schools, are unaware of it.

Man’s weakness makes him sociable. Our common sufferings draw our hearts to our fellow-creatures; we should have no duties to mankind if we were not men... To our thinking he would be wretched and alone. I do not understand how one who has need of nothing could love anything nor do I understand how he who loves nothing can be happy.

Hence it follows that we are drawn towards our fellow-creatures less by our feeling for their joys than for their sorrows; for in them we discern more plainly a nature like our own, and a pledge of their affection for us. If our common needs create a bond of interest our common sufferings create a bond of affection. The sight of a happy man arouses in others envy rather than love, we are ready to accuse him of usurping a right which is not his, of seeking happiness for himself alone, and our selfishness suffers an additional pang in the thought that this man has no need of us. But who does not pity the wretch when he beholds his sufferings? who would not deliver him from his woes if a wish could do it? Imagination puts us more readily in the place of the miserable man than of the happy man; we feel that the one condition touches us more nearly than the other. Pity is sweet, because, when we put ourselves in the place of one who suffers, we are aware, nevertheless, of the pleasure of not suffering like him. Envy is bitter, because the sight of a happy man, far from putting the envious in his place, inspires him with regret that he is not there. The one seems to exempt us from the pains he suffers, the other seems to deprive us of the good things he enjoys.

Do you desire to stimulate and nourish the first stirrings of the awakening sensibility in the heart of a young man, do you desire to incline his disposition towards kindly deed and thought, do not cause the seeds of pride, vanity, and envy to spring up in him through the misleading picture of the happiness of mankind; do not show him to begin with the pomp of courts, the pride of palaces, the delights of pageants; do not take him into society and into brilliant assemblies; do not show him the outside of society till you have made him capable of estimating it at its true worth. To show him the world before he is acquainted with men, is not to train him, but to corrupt him; not to teach, but to mislead.

By nature men are neither kings, nobles, courtiers, nor millionaires. All men are born poor and naked, all are liable to the sorrows of life, its disappointments, its ills, its needs, its suffering of every kind; and all are condemned at length to die. This is what it really means to be a man, this is what no mortal can escape. Begin then with the study of the essentials of humanity, that which really constitutes mankind.

At sixteen the adolescent knows what it is to suffer, for he himself has suffered; but he scarcely realizes that others suffer too; to see without feeling is not knowledge, and as I have said again and again the child who does not picture the feelings of others knows no ills but his own; but when his imagination is kindled by the first beginnings of growing sensibility, he begins to perceive himself in his fellow-creatures, to be touched by their cries, to suffer in their sufferings. It is as this time that the sorrowful picture of suffering humanity should stir his heart with the first touch of pity he has ever known...

So pity is born, the first relative sentiment which touches the human heart according to the order of nature. To become sensitive and pitiful the child must know that he has fellow-creatures who suffer as he has suffered, who feel the pains he has felt, and others which he can form some idea of, being capable of feeling them himself. Indeed, how can we let ourselves be stirred by pity unless we go beyond ourselves, and identify ourselves with the suffering animal, by leaving, so to speak, our own nature and taking his. We only suffer so far as we suppose he suffers; the suffering is not ours but his. So no one becomes sensitive till his imagination is aroused and begins to carry him outside himself...

First Maxim-- It is not in human nature to put ourselves in the place of those who are happier than ourselves, but only in the place of those who can claim our pity...

From this we see that to incline a young man to humanity you must not make him admire the brilliant lot of others; you must show him life in its sorrowful aspects and arouse his fears. Thus it becomes clear that he must force his own way to happiness, without interfering with the happiness of others.

Second Maxim-- We never pity another’s woes unless we know we may suffer in like manner ourselves. Non ignara mali, miseris succurrere disco.--Virgil. I know nothing so fine, so full of meaning, so touching, so true as these words.

Why have kings no pity on their people? Because they never expect to be ordinary men. Why are the rich so hard on the poor? Because they have no fear of becoming poor. Why do the nobles look down upon the people? Because a nobleman will never be one of the lower classes...

So do not train your pupil to look down from the height of his glory upon the sufferings of the unfortunate, the labors of the wretched, and do not hope to teach him to pity them while he considers them as far removed from himself. Make him thoroughly aware of the fact that the fate of these unhappy persons may one day be his own, that his feet are standing on the edge of the abyss, into which he may be plunged at any moment by a thousand unexpected irresistible misfortunes. Teach him to put no trust in birth, health, or riches; show him all the changes of fortune; find him examples--there are only too many of them-- in which men of higher rank than himself have sunk below the condition of these wretched ones... Above all do not teach him this, like his catechism, in cold blood; let him see and feel the calamities which overtake men; surprise and startle his imagination with the perils which lurk continually about a man’s path...

Third Maxim-- The pity we feel for others is proportionate, not to the amount of evil, but to the feelings we attribute to the sufferers.

We only pity the wretched so far as we think they feel the need of pity. The bodily effect of our sufferings is less than one would suppose; it is memory that prolongs the pain, imagination which projects it into the future, and makes us really to be pitied... We scarcely pity the cart-horse in his shed, for we do not suppose that while he is eating his hay he is thinking of the blows he has received and the labors in store for him. Neither do we pity the sheep grazing in the field, though we know it is about to be slaughtered, for we believe it knows nothing of the fate in store for it. In this way we also become callous to the fate of our fellow-men, and the rich console themselves for the harm done by them to the poor, by the assumption that the poor are too stupid to feel...

All distinctions of rank fade away before the eyes of a thoughtful person; he sees the same passions, the same feelings in the noble and the guttersnipe; there is merely a slight difference in speech, and more or less artificiality of tone; and if there is indeed any essential difference between them, the disadvantage is all on the side of those who are more sophisticated. The people show themselves as they are, and they are not attractive; but the fashionable world is compelled to adopt a disguise; we should be horrified if we saw it as it really is...

Have respect then for your species; remember that it consists essentially of the people, that if all the kings and all the philosophers were removed they would scarcely be missed, and things would go on none the worse. In a word, teach your pupil to love all men, even those who fail to appreciate him; act in such a way that he is not a member of any class, but takes his place in all alike: speak in his hearing of the human race with tenderness, and even with pity, but never with scorn. You are a man; do not dishonor mankind...

Above all, no vanity, no emulation, no boasting, none of those sentiments which force us to compare ourselves with others; for such comparisons are never made without arousing some measure of hatred against those who dispute our claim to the first place, were it only in our own estimation. Then we must be either blind or angry, a bad man or a fool; let us try to avoid this dilemma...

It is at this age that the clever teacher begins his real business, as a student and a philosopher who knows how to probe the heart and strives to guide it aright. While the young man has not learnt to pretend, while he does not even know the meaning of pretence, you see by his look, his manner, his gestures, the impression he has received from any object presented to him; you read in his countenance every impulse of his heart; by watching his expression you learn to protect his impulses and actually to control them...

Let us take two young men at the close of their early education, and let them enter the world by the opposite doors. The one mounts at once to Olympus, and moves in the smartest society; he is taken to court, he is presented in the houses of the great, of the rich, of the pretty women. I assume that he is everywhere made much of, and I do not regard too closely the effect of this reception on his reason; I assume it can stand it. Pleasures fly before him, every day provides him with fresh amusements; he flings himself into everything with an eagerness which carries you away. You find him busy, eager, and curious; his first wonder makes a great impression on you; you think him happy; but behold the state of his heart; you think he is rejoicing, I think he suffers... If he meets a young man better dressed than himself, I find him secretly complaining of his parents’ meanness. If he is better dressed than another, he suffers because the latter is his superior in birth or in intellect, and all his gold lace is put to shame by a plain cloth coat...

Let us grant him everything, let us not grudge him charm and worth; let him be well-made, witty, and attractive; the women will run after him; but by pursuing him before he is in love with them, they will inspire rage rather than love... He is tempted by everything that flatters him; what others have, he must have too; he covets everything, he envies every one, he would always be master. He is devoured by vanity, his young heart is enflamed by unbridled passions, jealousy and hatred among the rest; all these violent passions burst out at once; their sting rankles in him in the busy world, they return with him at night, he comes back dissatisfied with himself, with others; he falls asleep among a thousand foolish schemes disturbed by a thousand fancies, and his pride shows him even in his dreams those fancied pleasures; he is tormented by a desire which will never be satisfied. So much for your pupil; let us turn to mine...

When we have suffered, when we are in fear of suffering, we pity those who suffer; but when we suffer ourselves, we pity none but ourselves... The men who are jovial, friendly, and content at their club are almost always gloomy grumblers at home, and their servants have to pay for the amusement they give among their friends. True contentment is neither merry nor noisy; we are jealous of so sweet a sentiment, when we enjoy it we think about it, we delight in it for fear it should escape us. A really happy man says little and laughs little; he hugs his happiness, so to speak, to his heart. Noisy games, violent delight, conceal the disappointment of satiety. But melancholy is the friend of pleasure; tears and pity attend our sweetest enjoyment, and great joys call for tears rather than laughter...

The man of the world almost always wears a mask. He is scarcely ever himself and is almost a stranger to himself; he is ill at ease when he is forced into his own company. Not what he is, but what he seems, is all he cares for... In the countenance of my own pupil a simple and interesting expression which indicates the real contentment and the calm of his mind; an expression which inspires respect and confidence, and seems only to await the establishment of friendly relations to bestow his own confidence in return...

I do not know whether my young man will be any the less amiable for not having learnt to copy conventional manners and to feign sentiments which are not his own; that does not concern me at present, I only know he will be more affectionate...

I return to my system, and I say, when the critical age approaches, present to young people spectacles which restrain rather than excite them; put off their dawning imagination with objects which, far from inflaming their senses, put a check to their activity. Remove them from great cities, where the flaunting attire and the boldness of the women hasten and anticipate the teaching of nature, where everything presents to their view pleasures of which they should know nothing till they are of an age to choose for themselves. Bring them back to their early home, where rural simplicity allows the passions of their age to develop more slowly; or if their taste for the arts keeps them in town, guard them by means of this very taste from a dangerous idleness. Choose carefully their company, their occupations, and their pleasures... you need not distress him by the perpetual sight of pain and suffering; you need not take him from one hospital to another, from the gallows to the prison. He must be softened, not hardened, by the sight of human misery... Let your pupil therefore know something of the lot of man and the woes of his fellow-creatures, but let him not see them too often. A single thing, carefully selected and shown at the right time, will fill him with pity and set him thinking for a month...

Far from being a hindrance to education, this enthusiasm of adolescence is its crown and coping-stone; this it is that gives you a hold on the youth’s heart when he is no longer weaker than you. His first affections are the reins by which you control his movements; he was free, and now I behold him in your power. So long as he loved nothing, he was independent of everything but himself and his own necessities; as soon as he loves, he is dependent on his affections. Thus the first ties which unite him to his species are already formed. When you direct his increasing sensibility in this direction, do not expect that it will at once include all men, and that the word ”mankind” will have any meaning for him. Not so; this sensibility will at first confine itself to those like himself, and these will not be strangers to him, but those he knows, those whom habit has made dear to him or necessary to him, those who are evidently thinking and feeling as he does, those whom he perceives to be exposed to the pains he has endured, those who enjoy the pleasures he has enjoyed; in a word, those who are so like himself that he is the more disposed to self-love. It is only after long training, after much consideration as to his own feelings and the feelings he observes in others, that he will be able to generalize his individual notions under the attack idea of humanity, and add to his individual affections those which may identify him with the race.

When he becomes capable of affection, he becomes aware of the affection of others, and he is on the lookout for the signs of that affection. Do you not see how you will acquire a fresh hold on him? What bands have you bound about his heart while he was yet unaware of them! What will he feel, when he beholds himself and sees what you have done for him; when he beholds himself and sees what you have done for him; when he can compare himself with other youths, and other tutors with you! I say, “When he sees it,” but beware lest you tell him of it; if you tell him he will not perceive it. If you claim his obedience in return for the care bestowed upon him, he will think you have over-reached him; he will see that while you profess to have cared for him without, you meant to saddle him with a debt and to bind him with a debt and to bind him to a bargain which he never made. In vain you will add that what you demand is for his own good; you demand it, and you demand it in virtue of what you have done without his consent...

Those who are ungrateful for benefits received are fewer than those who do a kindness for their own ends. If you sell me your gifts, I will haggle over the price; but if you pretend to give, in order to sell later on at your own price; you are guilty of fraud; it is the free gift which is beyond price. The heart is a law to itself; if you try to bind it, you lose it; give it its liberty, and you make it your own...

If therefore gratitude is a natural feeling, and you do not destroy its effects by your blunders, be sure your pupil, as he begins to understand the value of your care for him, will be grateful for it, provided you have not put a price upon it; and this will give you an authority over his heart which nothing can overthrow. But beware of losing this advantage before it is really yours, beware of insisting on your own importance. Boast of your services and they become intolerable; forget them and they will not be forgotten. Until the time comes to treat him as a man let there be no question of his duty to you, but his duty to himself. Let him have his freedom if you would make him docile; hide yourself so that he may seek you; raise his heart to the noble sentiment of gratitude by only speaking of his own interest. Until he was able to understand I would not have him told that what was done was for his good; he would only have understood such words to mean that you were dependent on him and he would merely have made you his servant. But now that he is beginning to feel what love is, he also knows what a tender affection may bind a man to what he loves; and in the zeal which keeps you busy on his account, he now sees not the bonds of a slave, but the affection of a friend. Now there is nothing which carries so much weight with the human heart as the voice of friendship recognized as such, for we know that it never speaks but for our good. We may think our friend is mistaken, but we never believe he is deceiving us. We may reject his advice now and then, but we never scorn it.

We have reached the moral order at last; we have just taken the second step towards manhood. If this were the place for it, I would try to show how the first impulses of the heart give rise to the first stirrings of conscience, and how from the feelings of love and hatred spring the first notions of good and evil. I would show that justice and kindness are no mere abstract terms, no mere moral conceptions framed by the understanding, but true affections of the heart enlightened by reason...

Hitherto my Emile has thought only of himself, so his first glance at his equals leads him to compare himself with them; and the first feeling excited by this comparison is the desire to be first. It is here that self-love is transformed into selfishness, and this is the starting point of all the passions which spring from selfishness. But to determine whether the passions by which his life will be governed shall be humane and gentle or harsh and cruel, whether they shall be the passions to benevolence and pity or those of envy and covetousness, we must know what he believes his place among men to be, and what sort of obstacles he expects to have to overcome in order to attain to the position he seeks...

This is the time for estimating inequality natural and civil, and for the scheme of the whole social order. Society must be studied in the individual and the individual in society; those who desire to treat politics and morals apart from one another will never understand either... It is not so much strength of arm as moderation of spirit which makes men free and independent. The man whose wants are few is dependent on but few people, but those who constantly confound our vain desires with our bodily needs, those who have made these needs the basis of human society, are continually mistaking effects for causes, and they have only confused themselves by their own reasoning...

In the civil state there is a vain and chimerical equality of right; the means intended for its maintenance, themselves serve to destroy it; ... From the first contradiction spring all the other contradictions between the real and the apparent, which are to be found in the civil order. The many will always be sacrificed to the few, the common weal to private interest; those specious words-- justice and subordination-- will always serve as the tools of violence and the weapons of injustice; hence it follows that the higher classes which claim to be useful to the rest are really only seeking their own welfare at the expense of others; from this we may judge how much consideration is due to them according to right and justice... This is the study with which we are now concerned; but to do it thoroughly we must begin with a knowledge of the human heart...

When you paint men for your scholar, paint them as they are, not that he may hate them, but that he may pity them and have no wish to be like them. In my opinion that is the most reasonable view a man can hold with regard to his fellow-men. With this object in view we must take the opposite way from that hitherto followed, and instruct the youth rather through the experience of others than through his own. If men deceive him he will hate them; but if, while they treat him with respect, he sees them deceiving each other, he will pity them...

Let him know that man is by nature good, let him feel it, let him judge his neighbor by himself; but let him see how men are depraved and perverted by society; let him find in their prejudices the source of all their vices; let him be disposed to respect the individual, but to despise the multitude; let him see that all men wear almost the same mask that conceals them.

It must be admitted that this method has its drawbacks, and it is not easy to carry it out; for if he becomes too soon engrossed in watching other people, if you train him to mark too closely the actions of others, you will make him spiteful and satirical, quick and decided in his judgments of others; he will find a hateful pleasure in seeking bad motives, and will fail to see the good even in that which is really good. He will, at least, get used to the sight of vice, he will behold the wicked without horror, just as we get used to seeing the wretched without pity. Soon the perversity of mankind will be not so much a warning as an excuse; he will say, “Man is made so,” and he will have no wish to be different from the rest...

To bring the human heart within his reach without risk of spoiling his own, I would show him men from afar, in other times or in other places, so that he may behold the scene but cannot take part in it. This is the time for history; with its help he will read the hearts of men without any lessons in philosophy; with its help he will view them as a mere spectator, dispassionate and without prejudice; he will view them as their judge, not as their accomplice or their accuser.

To know men you must behold their actions. In society we hear them talk; they show their words and hide their deeds. Their sayings even help us to understand them; for comparing what they say and what they do, we see not only what they are but what they would appear; the more they disguise themselves the more thoroughly they stand revealed.

Unluckily this study has its dangers, its drawbacks of several kinds. It is difficult to adopt a point of view which will enable one to judge one’s fellow-creatures fairly. It is one of the chief defects of history to paint men’s evil deeds rather than their good ones;... We have very accurate accounts of declining nations; what we lack is the history of those nations which are multiplying; they are so happy and so good that history has nothing to tell us of them; and we see indeed in our own times that the most successful governments are least talked of. We only hear what is bad; the good is scarcely mentioned. Only the wicked become famous, the good are forgotten or laughed to scorn, and thus history, like philosophy, is for ever slandering mankind...

Ignorance or partiality disguises everything... The historian indeed gives me a reason, but he invents it; and criticism itself, of which we hear so much, is only the art of guessing, the art of choosing from among several lies, the lie that is most like truth... but if the model is to be found for the most part in the historian’s imagination, are you not falling into the very error you intended to avoid, and surrendering to the authority of the historian what you would not yield to the authority of the teacher? If my pupil is merely to see fancy pictures, I would rather draw them myself; they will, at least, be better suited to him.

The worst historians for a youth are those who give their opinions. Facts! Facts! and let him decide for himself; this is how he will learn to know mankind. If he is always directed by the opinion of the author, he is only seeing through the eyes of another person, and when those eyes are no longer at his disposal he can see nothing... Philosophy in the form of maxims is only fit for the experienced. Youth should never deal with the general, all its teaching should deal with individual instances... The rage for systems has got possession of all alike, no one seeks to see things as they are, but only as they agree with his system.

Add to all these considerations the fact that history shows us actions rather than men, because she only seizes men at certain chosen times in full dress; she only portrays the statesman when he is prepared to be seen; she does not follow him to his home, to his study, among his family and his friends; she only shows him in state; it is his clothes rather than himself that she describes... Our disposition does not show itself in our features, nor our character in our great deeds; it is trifles that show what we really are. What is done in public is either too commonplace or too artificial, and our modern authors are almost too grand to tell us anything else...

But imagine my Emile, who has been carefully guarded for eighteen years with the sole object of preserving a right judgment and a healthy heart, imagine him when the curtain goes up casting his eyes for the first time upon the world’s stage; or rather picture him behind the scenes watching the actors don their costumes, and counting the cords and pulleys which deceive with their feigned shows the eyes of the spectators. His first surprise will soon give place to feelings of shame and scorn of his fellow-man; he will be indignant at the sight of the whole human race deceiving itself and stooping to this childish folly; he will grieve to see his brothers tearing each other limb from limb for a mere dream, and transforming themselves into wild beasts because they could not be content to be men...

All conquerors have not been killed; all usurpers have not failed in their plans; to minds imbued with vulgar prejudices many of them will seem happy, but he who looks below the surface and reckons men’s happiness by the condition of their hearts will perceive their wretchedness even in the midst of their successes... the youth never observes others without coming back to himself and comparing himself with them. From the way young men are taught to study history I see that they are transformed, so to speak, into the people they behold...but, so far as Emile is concerned, should it happen at any time when he is making these comparisons that he wishes to be any one but himself-- were it Socrates or Cato-- I have failed entirely; he who begins to regard himself as a stranger will soon forget himself altogether.

It is not philosophers who know most about men; they only view them through the preconceived ideas of philosophy, and I know no one so prejudiced as philosophers. A savage would judge us more sanely...

It is our own passions that excite us against the passions of others; it is our self-interest which makes us hate the wicked; if they did us no harm we should pity rather than hate them. We should readily forgive their vices if we could perceive how their own heart punishes those vices... in vain he displays his good fortune and hides his heart; in spite of himself his conduct betrays him; but to discern this, our own heart must be utterly unlike his...

What then is required for the proper study of men? A great wish to know men, great impartiality of judgment, a heart sufficiently sensitive to understand every human passion, and calm enough to be free from passion. If there is any time in our life when this study is likely to be appreciated, it is this that I have chosen for Emile; before this time men would have been strangers to him; later on he would have been like them... He is a man; he takes an interest in his brethren; he is a just man and he judges his peers. Now it is certain that if he judges them rightly he will not want to change places with any one of them, for the goal of all their anxious efforts is the result of prejudices which he does not share, and that goal seems to him a mere dream. For his own part, he has all he wants within his reach. How should he be dependent on any one when he is self-sufficing and free from prejudice? Strong arms, good health, moderation, few needs, together with the means to satisfy those needs, are his. He has been brought up in complete liberty and servitude is the greatest ill he understands. He pities these miserable kings, slaves of all who obey them; he pities these false prophets fettered by their empty fame; he pities these rich fools, martyrs to their own pomp; he pities these ostentatious voluptuaries, who spend their life in deadly dullness that they may seem to enjoy its pleasures. He would pity the very foe who harmed him, for he would discern his wretchedness beneath his cloak of spite. He would say to himself, “This man has yielded to his desire to hurt me, and this need of his places him at my mercy.”

One step more and our goal is attain. Selfishness is a dangerous tool tough a useful one; it often wounds the hand that uses it, and it rarely does good unmixed with evil. When Emile considers his place among men, when he finds himself so fortunately situated, he will be tempted to give credit to his own reason for the work of yours, and to attribute to his own deserts what is really the result of his good fortune. He will say to himself, ”I am wise and other men are fools.” He will pity and despise them and will congratulate himself all the more heartily; and as he knows he is happier than they, he will think his deserts are greater. This is the fault we have most to fear, for it is the most difficult to eradicate. If he remained in this state of mind, he would have profited little by all our care; and if I had to choose, I hardly know whether I would not rather choose the illusions of prejudice than those of pride...

If, therefore, as a result of my care, Emile prefers his way of living, seeing, and feeling to that of others, he is right; but if he thinks because of this that he is nobler and better born than they, he is wrong; he is deceiving himself; he must be undeceived, or rather let us prevent the mistake, lest it be too late to correct it... This is another instance of an exception to my own rules; I must voluntarily expose my pupil to every accident which may convince him that he is no wiser than we. The adventure with the conjurer will be repeated again and again in different ways; I shall let flatterers take advantage of him; if rash comrades draw him into some perilous adventure, I will let him run the risk; if he falls into the hands of sharpers at the card-table, I will abandon him to them as their dupe. I will let them flatter him, pluck him, and rob him; and when having sucked him dry they turn and mock him, I will even thank them to his face for the lessons they have been good enough to give him. The only snares from which I will guard him with my utmost care are the wiles of wanton women. The only precaution I shall take will be to share all the dangers I let him run, and all the insults I let him receive. I will bear everything in silence, without a murmur or reproach, without a word to him, and be sure that if this wise conduct is faithfully adhered to, what he sees me endure on his account will make more impression on his heart than what he himself suffers.

I cannot refrain at this point from drawing attention to the sham dignity of tutors, who foolishly pretend to be wise, who discourage their pupils by always professing to treat them as children, and by emphasizing the difference between themselves and their scholars in everything they do. Far from damping their youthful spirits in this fashion, spare no effort to stimulate their courage; that they may become your equals, treat them as such already, and if they cannot rise to your level, do not scruple to come down to theirs without being ashamed of it. Remember that your honor is no longer in your own keeping but in your pupil’s. Share his faults that you may correct them, bear his disgrace that you may wipe it out; follow the example of that brave Roman who, unable to rally his fleeing soldiers, placed himself at their head, exclaiming, “They do not flee, they follow their captain!”...

Long experience has convinced him that his tutor loves him, that he is a wise and good man who desires his happiness and knows how to procure it. He ought to know that it is to his own advantage to listen to his advice... be frank and straightforward like himself; warn him of the dangers to which he is exposed, point them out plainly and sensibly, without exaggeration, without temper, without pedantic display, and above all without giving your opinions in the form of orders... Now under these circumstances the great art of the master consist in controlling events and directing his exhortations so that he may know beforehand when the youth will give in, and when he will refuse to do so, so that all around him he may encompass him with the lessons of experience, and yet never let him run too great a risk.

Warn him of his faults before he commits them; do not blame him when once they are committed; you would only stir his self-love to mutiny. We learn nothing from a lesson we detest. I know nothing more foolish than the phrase, “I told you so.” The best way to make him remember what you told him is to seem to have forgotten it. Go further than this, and when you find him ashamed of having refused to believe you, gently smooth away the shame with kindly words. He will indeed hold you dear when he sees how you forget yourself on his account, and how you console him instead of reproaching him. But if you increase his annoyance by your reproaches he will hate you, and will make it a rule never to heed you, as if to show you that he does not agree with you as to the value of your opinion...

When one thinks oneself better than other people it is a very mortifying excuse to console oneself by their example; it means that we must realize that the most we can say is that they are no better than we... The time of faults is the time for fables. When we blame the guilty under the cover of a story we instruct without offending him; and he then understands that the story is not untrue by means of the truth he finds in its application to himself... There is no knowledge of morals which cannot be acquired through our own experience or that of others. When there is danger, instead of letting him try the experiment himself, we have recourse to history...

Nothing is so foolish and unwise as the moral at the end of most of the fables; as if the moral was not or ought not to be so clear in the fable itself that the reader cannot fail to perceive it. Why then add the moral at the end, and so deprive him of the pleasure of discovering it for himself. The art of teaching consists in making the pupil wish to learn. But if the pupil is to wish to learn, his mind must not remain in such a passive state with regard to what you tell him that there is really nothing for him to do but listen to you. The master’s vanity must always give way to the scholars; he must be able to say, I understand, I see it, I am getting at it, I am learning something... Before I put the fables of this inimitable author into the hands of a youth, I should like to cut out all the conclusions with which he strives to explain what he has just said so clearly and pleasantly. If your pupil does not understand the fable without the explanation, he will not understand it with it...

When I see the studies of young men at the period of their greatest activity confined to purely speculative matters, while later on they are suddenly plunged, without any sort of experience, into the world of men and affairs, it strikes me as contrary alike to reason and to nature, and I cease to be surprised that so few men know what to do. How strange a choice to teach us so many useless things, while the art of doing is never touched upon! They profess to fit us for society, and we are taught as if each of us were to live a life of contemplation in a solitary cell, or to discuss theories with persons whom they did not concern. You think you are teaching your scholars how to live, and you teach them certain bodily contortions and certain forms of words without meaning. I, too, have taught Emile how to live; for I have taught him to enjoy his own society and, more than that, to earn his own bread. But this is not enough. To live in the world he must know how to get on with other people...

By doing good we become good; and I know no surer way to this end. Keep your pupil busy with the good deeds that are within his power, let the cause of the poor be his own, let him help them not merely with his money, but with his service; let him work for them, protect them, let his person and his time be at their disposal; let him be their agent; he will never all his life long have a more honorable office. How many of the oppressed, who have never got a hearing, will obtain justice when he demands it for them with that courage and firmness which the practice of virtue inspires; when he makes his way into the presence of the rich and great, when he goes, if need be, to the footstool of the king himself, to plead the cause of the wretched, the cause of those who find all doors closed to them by their poverty, those who are so afraid of being punished for their misfortunes that they do not dare to complain?...

He knows that his first duty is to himself; that young men should distrust themselves; that they should act circumspectly; that they should show respect to those older than themselves, reticence and discretion in talking without cause, modesty in things indifferent, but courage in well doing, and boldness to speak the truth...

Emile is not fond of noise or quarrelling, not only among men, but among animals... The sight of suffering make him suffer too; this is a natural feeling. It is one of the after effects of vanity that hardens a young man and makes him take a delight in seeing the torments of a living and feeling creature; it makes him consider himself beyond the reach of similar sufferings through his superior wisdom or virtue. He who is beyond the reach of vanity cannot fall into the vice which results from vanity. So Emile loves peace. He is delighted at the sight of happiness, and if he can help to bring it about, this is an additional reason for sharing it... His kindness is active and teaches him much he would have learnt far more slowly, or he would never have learnt at all, if his heart had been harder. If he finds his comrades at strife, he tries to reconcile them; if he sees the afflicted, he inquires as to the cause of their sufferings; if he meets two men who hate each other, he wants to know the reason to their enmity; if he finds one who is down-trodden, groaning under the oppression of the rich and powerful, he tries to discover by what means he can counteract this oppression...

I am never weary of repeating: let all the lessons of young people take the form of doing rather than talking; let them learn nothing from books which they can learn from experience. How absurd to attempt to give them practice in speaking when they have nothing to say, to expect to make them feel, at their school desks, the vigor of the language of passion and all the force of the arts of persuasion when they have nothing and nobody to persuade!... But Emile is not in a condition so favorable to the art of oratory...

The lofty feeling with which he is inspired gives him strength and nobility; imbued with tender love for mankind his words betray the thoughts of his heart; I know not how it is, but there is more charm in his open-hearted generosity than in the artificial eloquence of others; or rather this eloquence of his is the only true eloquence, for he has only to show what he feels to make others share his feelings...

Extend self-love to others and it is transformed into virtue, a virtue which has its root in the heart of every one of us. The less the object of our care is directly dependent on ourselves, the less we have to fear from the illusion of self-interest; the more general this interest becomes, the juster it is; and the love of the human race is nothing but the love of justice within us... Reason and self-love compel us to love mankind even more than our neighbor, and to pity the wicked is to be very cruel to other men...

Now if in accordance with this method you follow from infancy the course of a youth who has not been shaped to any special mould, one who depends as little as possible on authority and the opinions of others, which will he most resemble, my pupil or yours? It seems to me that this is the question you must answer if you would know if I am mistaken.

It is not easy for a man to begin to think; but when once he has begun he will never leave off. Once a thinker, always a thinker, and the understanding once practiced in reflection will never rest. You may therefore think that I do too much or too little... But remember, in the first place, that when I want to train a natural man, I do not want him a savage and to send him back to the woods, but that living in the whirl of social life it is enough that he should not let himself be carried away by the passions and prejudices of men; let him see with his eyes and feel with his heart, let him own no sway but that of reason...

The Incomprehensible embraces all, he gives its motion to the earth, and shapes the system of all creatures, but our eyes cannot see him nor can our hands search him out, he evades the efforts of our senses; we behold the work, but the workman is hidden from our eyes. It is no small matter to know that he exists, and when we have got so far, and when we ask, What is he? Where is he? our mind is overwhelmed, we lose ourselves, we know not what to think.

Locke would have us begin with the study of spirits and go on to that of bodies. This is the method of superstition, prejudice, and error; it is not the method of nature, nor even that of well-ordered reason; it is to learn to see by shutting our eyes. We must have studied bodies long enough before we can form any true idea of spirits, or even suspect that there are such beings. The contrary practice merely puts materialism on a firmer footing.

Since our senses are the first instruments to our learning, corporeal and sensible bodies are the only bodies we directly apprehend. The word “spirit” has no meaning for any one who has not philosophized. To the unlearned and to the child a spirit is merely a body... I admit that we are taught that God is everywhere; but we also believe that there is air everywhere, at least in our atmosphere; and the word Spirit meant originally nothing more than breath and wind. Once you teach people to say what they do not understand, it is easy enough to get them to say anything you like... So every child who believes in God is of necessity an idolater or at least he regards the Deity as a man, and when once the imagination has perceived God, it is very seldom that the understanding conceives him. Locke’s order leads us into this same mistake...

I am aware that many of my readers will be surprised to find me tracing the course of my scholar through his early years without speaking to him of religion. At fifteen he will not even know that he has a soul, at eighteen even he may not be ready to learn about it. For if he learns about it too soon, there is the risk of his never really knowing anything about it.

If I had to depict the most heart-breaking stupidity, I would paint a pedant teaching children the catechism; if I wanted to drive a child crazy I would set him to explain what he learned in his catechism. You will reply that as most of the Christian doctrines are mysteries, you must wait, not merely till the child is a man, but till the man is dead, before the human mind will understand those doctrines. To that I reply, that there are mysteries which the heart of man can neither conceive nor believe, and I see no use in teaching them to children, unless you want to make liars of them. Moreover, I assert that to admit that there are mysteries, you must at least realize that they are incomprehensible, and children are not even capable of this conception! At an age when everything is mysterious, there are no mysteries properly so-called.

“We must believe in God if we would be saved.” This doctrine wrongly understood is the root of bloodthirsty intolerance and the cause of all the futile teaching which strikes a deadly blow at human reason by training it to cheat itself with mere words. No doubt there is not a moment to be lost if we would deserve eternal salvation; but if the repetition of certain words suffices to obtain it, I do not see why we should not people heaven with starlings and magpies as well as with children.

The obligation of faith assumes the possibility of belief. The philosopher who does not believe is wrong, for he misuses the reason he has cultivated, and he is able to understand the truths he rejects. But the child who professes the Christian faith-- what does he believe? Just what he is made to repeat that if you tell him to say just the opposite he will be quite ready to do it... We hold that no child who dies before the age of reason will be deprived of everlasting happiness; the Catholics believe the same of all children who have been baptized, even though they have never heard of God...

From the same principle it is plain that any man having reached old age without faith in God will not, therefore, be deprived of God’s presence in another life if his blindness was not willful; and I maintain that it is not always willful... Reason tells that man should only be punished for his willful faults, and that invincible ignorance can never be imputed to him as a crime. Hence it follows that in the sight of the Eternal Justice every man who would believe if he had the necessary knowledge is counted a believer, and that there will be no unbelievers to be punished except those who have closed their hearts against the truth.

Let us beware of proclaiming the truth to those who cannot as yet comprehend it, for to do so is to try to inculcate error. It would be better to have no idea at all of the Divinity than to have mean, grotesque, harmful, and unworthy ideas; to fail to perceive the Divine is a lesser evil than to insult it... The chief harm which results from the monstrous ideas of God which are instilled into the minds of children is that they last all their life long, and as men they understand no more of God than they did as children...

It is in matters of religion more than in anything else that prejudice is triumphant... We will not attach him to any sect, but we will give him the means to choose for himself according to the right use of his own reason...

The Creed of a Savoyard Priest

My child, do not look to me for learned speeches or profound arguments. I am no great philosopher, nor do I desire to be one. I have, however, a certain amount of common-sense and a constant devotion to truth;. I have no wish to argue with you nor even to convince you; it is enough for me to show you, in all simplicity of heart, what I really think. Consult your own heart while I speak that is all I ask....

I was in that state of doubt and uncertainty which Descartes considers essential to the search for truth. It is a state which cannot continue, it is disquieting and painful; only vicious tendencies and an idle heart can keep us in that state. My heart was not so corrupt as to delight in it... I pondered, therefore, on the sad fate of mortals, adrift upon this sea of human opinions, without compass or rudder, and abandoned to their stormy passions with no guide but an inexperienced pilot who does not know whence he comes or whither he is going...I cannot understand how any one can be a skeptic sincerely and on principle. Either such philosophers do not exist or they are the most miserable of men... in spite of itself the mind decides one way or another, and it prefers to be deceived rather than to believe nothing...

I consulted the philosophers, I searched their books and examined their various theories; I found them all alike proud, assertive, dogmatic, professing, even in their so-called skepticism, to know everything, proving nothing, scoffing at each other.... If the philosophers were in a position to declare the truth, which of them would care to do so? Every one of them knows that his own system rests on no surer foundations than the rest, but he maintains it because it is his own. There is not one of them who, if he chanced to discover the difference between truth and falsehood, would not prefer his own lie to the truth which another had discovered. Where is the philosopher who would not deceive the whole world for his own glory?...

I also realized that the philosophers, far from ridding me of my vain doubts, only multiplied the doubts that tormented me and failed to removed any one of them. So I chose another guide and said, “Let me follow the Inner Light; it will not lead me so far astray as others have done, or if it does it will be my own fault, and I shall not go so far wrong if I follow my own illusions as if I trusted to their deceits.”...I was resolved to admit as self-evident all that I could not honestly refuse to believe, and to admit as true all that seemed to follow directly from this; all the rest I determined to leave undecided, neither accepting nor rejecting it, nor yet troubling myself to clear up difficulties which did not lead to any practical ends...

The more I observe the action and reaction of the forces of nature playing on one another, the more I see that we must always go back from one effect to another, till we arrive at a first cause in some will;...This is my first principle. I believe, therefore, that there is a will which sets the universe in motion and gives life to nature. This is my first dogma, or the first article of my creed....If matter in motion points me to a will, matter in motion according to fixed laws points me to an intelligence; that is the second article of my creed. To act, to compare, to choose, are the operations of an active, thinking being; so this being exists...I am like a man who sees the works of a watch for the first time; he is never weary of admiring the mechanism, though he does not know the use of the instrument and has never seen its face...

Let us compare the special ends, the means, the ordered relations of every kind, then let us listen to the inner voice of feeling; what healthy mind can reject its evidence? Unless the eyes are blinded by prejudices, can they fail to see that the visible order of the universe proclaims a supreme intelligence?...For my own part the only possible assumption is that the chances are infinity to one that the product is not the work of chance. In addition to this, chance combinations yield nothing but products of the same nature as the elements combined, so that life and organization will not be produced by a flow of atoms...It is not in my power to believe that passive and dead matter can have brought forth living and feeling beings, that blind chance has brought forth intelligent beings, that that which does not think has brought forth thinking beings...

Recollect that I am not preaching my own opinion but explaining it. This being who wills and can perform his will, this being active through his own power, this being, whoever he may be, who moves the universe and orders all things, is what I call God...He hides himself alike from my senses and my understanding; the more I think of him, the more perplexed I am; I know full well that he exists, and that he exists of himself alone; I know that my existence depends on his, and that everything I know depends upon him also. I see God everywhere in his works; I feel him within myself; I behold him, all around me; but if I try to ponder him himself, if I try to find out where he is, what he is, what is his substance, he escapes me and my troubled spirit finds nothing...

No doubt I am not free not to desire my own welfare, I am not free to desire my own hurt; but my freedom consists in this very thing, that I can will what is for my own good, or what I esteem as such, without any external compulsion. Does it follow that I am not my own master because I cannot be other than myself?.. Providence does not will the evil that man does when he misuses the freedom given to him; neither does Providence prevent him doing it, either because the wrong done by so feeble a creature is as nothing in its eyes, or because it could not prevent it without doing a greater wrong and degrading his nature. Providence has made him free that he may choose the good and refuse the evil...

It is the abuse of our powers that makes us unhappy and wicked. Our cares, our sorrows, our sufferings are of our own making... O Man! seek no further for the author of evil; thou art he. There is no evil but the evil you do or the evil you suffer, and both come from yourself...Oh! let us first be good and then we shall be happy. Let us not claim the prize before we have won it, nor demand our wages before we have finished our work...What need to seek a hell in the future life? It is here in the breast of the wicked...

The more I strive to envisage his infinite essence the less do I comprehend it; but it is, and that is enough for me; the less I understand, the more I adore. I abase myself, saying, “Being of beings, I am because thou art; to fix my thoughts on thee is to ascend to the source of my being. The best use I can make of my reason is to resign it before thee; my mind delights, my weakness rejoices, to feel myself overwhelmed by thy greatness.”...

I must now seek such principles of conduct as can draw from them, and such rules as I must lay down for my guidance in the fulfillment of my destiny in this world, according to the purpose of my Maker. Still following the same method, I do not derive these rules from the principles of the higher philosophy, I find them in the depths of my heart, traced by nature in characters which nothing can efface. I need only consult myself with regard to what I wish to do; what I feel to be right is right, what I feel to be wrong is wrong; conscience is the best casuist; and it is only when we haggle with conscience that we have recourse to the subtleties of argument... Conscience is the voice of the soul, the passions are the voice of the body. Is it strange that these voices often contradict each other? And then to which should we give heed? Too often does reason deceive us; we have only too good a right to doubt here; but conscience never deceives us; she is the true guide of man; it is to the soul what instinct is to the body; he who obeys his conscience is following nature and he need not fear that he will go astray...

The morality of our actions consists entirely in the judgments we ourselves form with regard to them. If good is good, it must be good in the depth of our heart as well as in our actions; and this first reward of justice is the consciousness that we are acting justly...Cast your eyes over every nation of the world; peruse every volume of its history; in the midst of all these strange and cruel forms of worship, among this amazing variety of manners and customs, you will everywhere find the same ideas of right and justice; everywhere the same principles of morality, the same ideas of good and evil...There is therefore at the bottom of our hearts an innate principle of justice and virtue, by which, in spite of our maxims, we judge our own actions or those of others to be good or evil; and it is this principle that I call conscience.

But at this word I hear the murmurs of all the wise men so-called. Childish errors, prejudices of our upbringing, they exclaim in concert! There is nothing in the human mind but what it has gained by experience; and we judge everything solely by means of the ideas we have acquired...If all the philosophers in the world should prove that I am wrong, and you feel that I am right, that is all I ask.

For this purpose it is enough to lead you to distinguish between our acquired ideas and our natural feelings; for feeling precedes knowledge; and since we do not learn to seek what is good for us and avoid what is bad for us, but get this desire from nature, in the same way the love of good and the hatred of evil are as natural to us as our self-love... To know good is not to love it; this knowledge is not innate in man; but as soon as his reason leads him to perceive it, his conscience impels him to love it; it is this feeling which is innate... let us be simpler and less pretentious; let us be content with the first feelings we experience in ourselves, since science always brings us back to these, unless it has led us astray.

Conscience! Conscience! Divine instinct, immortal voice from heaven; sure guide for a creature ignorant and finite indeed, yet intelligent and free; infallible judge of good and evil, making man like to God! In thee consists the excellence of man’s nature and the morality of his actions; apart from thee, I find nothing in myself to raise me above the beasts-- nothing but the sad privilege of wandering from one error to another, by the help of an unbridled understanding and a reason which knows no principle.

But it is not enough to be aware that there is such a guide; we must know her and follow her. If she speaks to all hearts, how is it that so few give heed to her voice? She speaks to us in the language of nature, and everything leads us to forget that tongue. Conscience is timid, she loves peace and retirement; she is startled by noise and numbers; the prejudices from which she is said to arise are her worst enemies. She flees before them or she is silent; their noisy voices drown her words, so that she cannot get a hearing; fanaticism dares to counterfeit her voice and to inspire crimes in her names. She is discouraged by ill-treatment; she no longer speaks to us, no longer answers to our call; when she has been scorned so long, it is as hard to recall her as it was to banish her...

The joy of well-doing is the prize of having done well, and we must deserve the prize before we win it. There is nothing sweeter than virtue; but we do not know this till we have tried it.... Reason alone is not a sufficient foundation for virtue; what solid ground can be found? ...The good man orders his life with regard to all men; the wicked orders it for self alone. The latter centers all things round himself; the other measures his radius and remains on the circumference. Thus his place depends on the common center, which is God...

Every duty of natural law, which man’s injustice had almost effaced from my heart, is engraven there, for the second time in the name of that eternal justice which lays those duties upon me and beholds my fulfillment of them. I feel myself merely the instrument of the Omnipotent, who wills what is good, who performs it, who will bring about my own good through the cooperation of my will with his own, and by the right use of my liberty...

I am overwhelmed by his kindness, I bless him and his gifts, but I do not pray to him. What should I ask of him-- to change the order of nature, to work miracles on my behalf? Should I, who am bound to love all things the order which he has established in his wisdom and maintained by his providence, should I desire the disturbance of that order on my own account? No that rash prayer would deserve to be punished rather than to be granted. Neither do I ask of him the power to do right; why should I ask what he has given me already? Has he not given me conscience that I may love the right, reason that I may perceive it, and freedom that I may choose it? If I do evil, I have no excuse; I do it of my own free will; to ask him to change my will is to ask him to do what he asks of me; it is to want him to do the work while I get the wages; to be dissatisfied with my lot is to wish to be no longer a man, to wish to be other than what I am, to wish for disorder and evil. Thou source of justice and truth, merciful and gracious God, in thee do I trust, and the desire of my heart is-- Thy will be done. When I unite my will with thine I do what thou doest; I have share in thy goodness; I believe that I enjoy beforehand the supreme happiness which is the reward of goodness...

So far I have told you nothing but what I thought would be of service to you, nothing but what I was quite convinced of. The inquiry which remains to be made is very different. It seems to me full of perplexity, mystery, and darkness; I bring to it only doubt and distrust. I make up my mind with trembling, and I tell you my doubts rather than my convictions. If your own opinions were more settled I should hesitate to show you mine; but in your present condition, to think like me would be gain. Moreover, give to my words only the authority of reason... Seek truth for yourself; for my own part I only promise you sincerity...

Show me what you can add to the duties of the natural law, for the glory of God, for the good of mankind, and for my own welfare; and what virtue you will get from the new form of religion which does not result from mine. The grandest ideas of the Divine nature come to us from reason only. Behold the spectacle of nature; listen to the inner voice. Has not God spoken it all to our eyes, to our conscience, to our reason? What more can man tell us? Their revelations do but degrade God, by investing him with passions like our own. Far from throwing light upon the ideas of the Supreme Being, special doctrines seen to me to confuse these ideas; far from ennobling them, they degrade them; to the inconceivable mysteries which surround the Almighty, they add absurd contradictions, they make man proud, intolerant, and cruel; instead of bringing peace upon earth, they bring fire and sword. I ask myself what is the use of it all, and I find no answer. I see nothing but the crimes of men and the misery of mankind.

“They tell me a revelation was required to teach men how God would be served; as a proof of this they point to the many strange rites which men have instituted, and they do not perceive that this very diversity springs from the fanciful nature of the revelations. As soon as the nations took to making God speak, every one made him speak in his own fashion, and made him say what he himself wanted. Had they listened only to what God says in the heart of man, there would have been but one religion upon earth...

“Do not let us confuse the outward forms of religion with religion itself. The service God requires is of the heart; and when the heart is sincere that is ever the same. It is a strange sort of conceit which fancies that God takes such an interest in the shape of the priest’s vestments, the form of words he utters, the gestures he makes before the altar and all his genuflections...

“Either all religions are good and pleasing to God, or if there is one which he prescribes for men, if they will be punished for despising it, he will have distinguished it by plain and certain signs by which it can be known as the only true religion; these signs are alike in every time and place, equally plain to all men, great or small, learned or unlearned, Europeans, Indians, Africans, savages. If there were but one religion upon earth, and if all beyond its pale were condemned to eternal punishment, and if there were in any corner of the world one single honest man who was not convinced by this evidence, the God of that religion would be the most unjust and cruel of tyrants...

“God has spoken, these are indeed words which demand attention. To whom has he spoken? He has spoken to men. Why then have I heard nothing? He has instructed others to make known his words to you. I understand; it is men who come and tell me what God has said. I would rather have heard the words of God himself; it would have been as easy for him and I should have been secure from fraud. He protects you from fraud by showing that his envoys come from him. How does he show this? By miracles. Where are these miracles? In the books. And who wrote the books? Men. And who saw the miracles? The men who bear witness to them. What! Nothing but human testimony! Nothing but men who tell me what others told them! How many men between God and me? Let us see, however, let us examine, compare, and verify. Oh! If God had but deigned to free me from all this labor, I would have served him with all my heart...

“...he who consigns to eternal punishment the greater part of his creatures, is not the merciful and gracious God revealed to me by my reason.

“Reason tells me that dogmas should be plain, clear, and striking in their simplicity... The best religion is of necessity the simplest. He who hides beneath mysteries and contradictions the religion that he preaches to me, teaches me at the same time to distrust that religion. The God whom I adorn is not the God of darkness, he has not given me understanding in order to forbid me to use it; to tell me to submit my reason is to insult the giver of reason.

The minister of truth does not tyrannize over my reason, he enlightens it...

“Inspiration. Reason tells you that the whole is greater than the part; but I tell you, in God’s name, that the part is greater than the whole.

Reason. And who are you to dare to tell me that God contradicts himself? And which shall I choose to believe, God who teaches me, through my reason, the eternal truth, or you who, in his name, proclaim an absurdity?

“Inspiration. Believe me, for my teaching is more positive; and I will prove you beyond all manner of doubt that he has sent me.

“Reason. What! You will convince me that God has sent you to bear witness against himself? What sort of proofs will you adduce to convince me that God speaks more surely by your mouth than through the understanding he has given me?

“Inspiration. The understanding he has given you! Petty, conceited creature! As if you were the first impious person who had been led astray through his reason corrupted by sin.

“Reason. Man of God, you would not be the first scoundrel who asserts his arrogance as a proof of his mission... When you teach me that my reason misleads me, do you not refute what it might have said on your behalf? He who denies the right of reason, must convince me without recourse to her aid. For suppose you have convinced me by reason, how am I to know that it is not my reason, corrupted by sin, which makes me accept what you say? Besides, what proof, what demonstration, can you advance, more self-evident than the axiom it is to destroy?...

“See what your so-called supernatural proofs, your miracles, your prophecies come to: believe all this upon the word of another, submit to the authority of men the authority of God which speaks to my reason... Who will guide me in such a choice? It will be hard to find the best books on the opposite side in any one country, and all the harder to find those on all sides; when found they would be easily answered. The absent are always in the wrong, and bad arguments boldly asserted easily efface good arguments put forward with scorn. Besides books are often very misleading, and scarcely express the opinions of their authors... Yet everyone finds truth in his own religion, and thinks the religion of other nations absurd; so all these foreign religions are not so absurd as they seem to us, or else the reason we find for our own proves nothing.

“...the sacred books are written in languages unknown to the people who believe in them... These books are translated, you say. What an answer! How am I to know that the translations are correct, or how am I to make sure that such a thing as a correct translation is possible? If God has gone so far as to speak to men, why should he require an interpreter?

I can never believe that every man is obliged to know what is contained in books, and that he who is out of reach of these books, and of those who understand them, will be punished for an ignorance which is no fault of his. Books upon books! What madness!

“If it were true that the gospel is preached throughout the world, what advantage would there be? The day before the first missionary set foot in any country, no doubt somebody died who could not hear him. Now tell me what we shall do with him? If there were a single soul in the whole world, to whom Jesus Christ had never been preached, this objection would be as strong for that man as for a quarter of the human race...

“You might as well expect me to know what was happening in the moon. You say you have come to teach me; but why did you not come and teach my father, or why do you consign that good old man to damnation because he knew nothing of all this? Must he be punished everlastingly for your laziness, he who was so kind and helpful, he who sought only for truth? Be honest; put yourself in my place; see if I ought to believe, on your word alone, all these incredible things which you have told me, and reconcile all this injustice with the just God you proclaim to me... No one has a right to depend on another’s judgment...

“Behold, my son, the absurdities to which pride and intolerance bring us, when everybody wants others to think as he does, and everybody fancies that he has an exclusive claim upon the rest of mankind. I call to witness the God of peace whom I adore, and whom I proclaim to you... I could never convince myself that God would require such learning of me under pain of hell. So I closed all my books. There is one book which is open to every one-- the book of nature. In this good and great volume I learn to serve and adore its Author. There is no excuse for not reading this book, for it speaks to all in a language they can understand...

“Respect in silence what you can neither reject nor understand...This is the unwilling skepticism in which I rest; but this skepticism is in no way painful to me, for it does not extend to matters of practice, and I am well assured as to the principles underlying all my duties... True worship is of the heart. God rejects no homage, however offered, provided it is sincere...

“To ask any one to abandon the religion in which he was born is, I consider, to ask him to do wrong, and therefore to do wrong oneself...

“My young friend, I have now repeated to you my creed as God reads it in my heart; you are the first to whom I have told it; perhaps you will be the last. As long as there is any true faith left among men, we must not trouble quiet souls, nor scare the faith of the ignorant with problems they cannot solve, with difficulties which cause them uneasiness, but do not give them any guidance. But when once everything is shaken, the trunk must be preserved at the cost of the branches...

“Return to your own country, go back to the religion of your country, go back to the religion of your fathers, and follow it in sincerity of heart, and never forsake it... remember that the real duties of religion are independent of human institutions; that a righteous heart is the true temple of the Godhead; that in every land, in every sect, to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourself is the whole law...

My good youth, be honest and humble; learn how to be ignorant, then you will never deceive yourself or others... A haughty philosophy leads to atheism just as blind devotion leads to fanaticism. Avoid these extremes; keep steadfastly to the path of truth, or what seems to you truth, in simplicity of heart, and never let yourself be turned aside by pride or weakness. Dare to confess God before the philosophers; dare to preach humanity to the intolerant. It may be you will stand alone, but you will bear within you a witness which will make the witness of men of no account with you. Let them love or hate, let then read your writings or despise them; no matter. Speak the truth and do the right; the one thing that really matters is to do one’s duty in this world; and when we forget ourselves we are really working for ourselves. My child, self-interest misleads us; the hope of the just is the only sure guide...

...it is an easy thing to raise him from the study of nature to the search for the author of nature...

Nature’s due time comes at length, as come it must. Since man must die, he must reproduce himself, so that the species may endure and the order of the world continue. When by the signs I have spoken of you perceive that the critical moment is at hand, at once abandon for ever your former tone. He is still your disciple, but not your scholar. He is a man and your friend; henceforth you must treat him as such.

What! Must I abdicate my authority when most I need it? Must I abandon the adult to himself just when he least knows how to control himself, when he may fall into the gravest errors? Must I renounce my rights when it matters most that I should use them on his behalf? Who bids you renounce them; he is only just becoming conscious of them. Hitherto all you have gained has been won by force or guile; authority, the law of duty, were unknown to him, you had to constrain or deceive him to gain his obedience. But see what fresh chains you have bound about his heart. Reason, friendship, affection, gratitude, a thousand bonds of affection, speak to him in a voice he cannot fail to hear. His ears are not yet dulled by vice, he is still sensitive only to the passions of nature. Self-love, the first of these, delivers him into your hands; habit confirms this...

I grant you, indeed, that if you directly oppose his growing desires and foolishly treat as crimes the fresh needs which are beginning to make themselves felt in him, he will not listen to you for long; but as soon as you abandon my method I cannot be answerable for the consequences. Remember that you are nature’s minister; you will never be her foe.

But what shall we decide to do? You see no alternative but either to favor his inclinations or to resist them; to tyrannize or to wink at his misconduct; and both of these may lead to such dangerous results that one must indeed hesitate between them... Remember that to guide a grown man you must reverse all that you did to guide the child. Do not hesitate to speak to him of those dangerous mysteries which you have so carefully concealed from him hitherto. since he must become aware of them, let him not learn them from another, nor from himself, but from you alone; since he must henceforth fight against them, let him know his enemy, that he may not be taken unawares...

You may be sure that when the child knows you will neither preach nor scold, he will always tell you everything, and that no one will dare to tell him anything he must conceal from you, for they will know very well that he will tell you everything... he has no more knowledge of pretence than of vice; reproach and scorn have not made a coward of him; base fears have never taught him the art of concealment. He has all the indiscretion of innocence; he is absolutely out-spoken; he does not even know the use of deceit. Every impulse of his heart is betrayed either by word or look, and I often know what he is feeling before he is aware of it himself...

Before we sow we must till the ground; the seed of virtue is hard to grow; and a long period of preparation is required before it will take root. ...Therefore never reason with young men, even when they have reached the age of reason, unless you have first prepared the way...

Reading, solitude, idleness, a soft and sedentary life, intercourse with women and young people, these are perilous paths for a young man, and these lead him into danger... When the arms are hard at work, the imagination is quiet; when the body is weary, the passions are not easily inflamed. The quickest and easiest precaution is to remove him from immediate danger. At once I take him away from towns, away from things which might lead him into temptation. But that is not enough; in what desert in what wilds, shall he escape from the thoughts which pursue him?..

He must some fresh occupation which has the interest of novelty-- an occupation which he may become passionately fond of, one to which he will devote himself entirely. Now the only one which seems to possess all these characteristics is the chase. If hunting is ever an innocent pleasure, if it is ever worthy of a man, now is the time to betake ourselves to it. Emile is well-fitted to succeed in it...

Only through passion can we gain the mastery over passions; their tyranny must be controlled by their legitimate power, and nature herself must furnish us with the means to control her.

Emile is not made to live alone, he is a member of society, and must fulfil his duties as such. He is made to live among his fellowmen and he must get to know them... Give me a child of twelve who knows nothing at all; at fifteen I will restore him to you knowing as much as those who have been under instruction from infancy; with this difference, that your scholars only know things by heart, while mine knows how to use his knowledge. In the same way plunge a young man of twenty into society; under good guidance, in a year’s time, he will be more charming and more truly polite than one brought up in society from childhood...

At this age there are more dangers than at any other; but I do not expose my pupil to them without safeguards...I only give my authority to his excesses, and relieve his conscience at the expense of my own... Your heart, I say to the young man, requires a companion; let us go in search of a fitting one; perhaps we shall not easily find such a one, true worth is always rare, but we will be in no hurry, nor will we be easily discouraged. No doubt there is such a one, and we shall find her at last, or at least we shall find some one like her. With an end so attractive to himself, I introduce him into society. What more need I say? Have I not achieved my purpose?

By describing to him his future mistress, you may imagine whether I shall gain a hearing, whether I shall succeed in making the qualities he ought to love pleasing and dear to him, whether I shall sway his feelings to seek or shun what is good or bad for him. I shall be the stupidest of men if I fail to make him in love with he knows not whom. No matter that the person I describe is imaginary, it is enough to disgust him with those who might have attracted him; it is enough if it is continually suggesting comparisons which make him prefer his fancy to the real people he sees; and is not love itself a fancy, a falsehood, an illusion? We are far more in love with our own fancy than with the object of it. If we saw the object of our affections as it is, there would be no such thing as love. When we cease to love, the person we used to love remains unchanged, but we no longer see with the same eyes; the magic veil is drawn aside, and love disappears. But when I supply the object of imagination, I have control over comparisons, and I am able easily to prevent illusion with regard to realities.

For all that I would not mislead a young man by describing a model of perfection which could never exist; but I would so choose the faults of his mistress that they will suit him, that he will be pleased by them, and they may serve to correct his own. Neither would I like to him and affirm that there really is such a person; let him delight in the portrait, he will soon desire to find the original. From desire to belief the transition is easy; it is a matter of a little skillful description, which under more perceptible features will give to this imaginary object an air of greater reality. I would go so far as to giver her a name; I would say, smiling, Let us call your future mistress Sophy; Sophy is a name of good omen; if it is not the name of the lady of your choice at least she will be worthy of the name; we may honor her with it meanwhile. If after all these details, without affirming or denying, we excuse ourselves from giving an answer, his suspicions will become certainty; he will think that his destined bride is purposely concealed from him, and that he will see her in good time. If once he has arrived at this conclusion and if the characteristics to be shown to him have been well chosen, the rest is easy; there will be little risk in exposing him to the world; protect him from his senses, and his heart is safe...

What a means to preserve his heart from the dangers to which his appearance would expose him, to repress his senses by means of his imagination, to rescue him from the hands of those women who profess to educate young men, and make them pay so dear for their teaching, and only teach a young man manners by making him utterly shameless. Sophy is so modest! What would she think of their advances! Sophy is so simple! How would she like their airs? They are too far from his thoughts and his observations to be dangerous...

A young man is led astray in the first place neither by temperament nor by his senses, but by popular opinion... it is not nature that corrupts them but example... So a young man when he enters society must be preserved from vanity rather than from sensibility; he succumbs rather to the tastes of others than to his own, and self-love is responsible for more libertines than love...

I have labored twenty years to arm him against mockery; they will not make him their dupe in a day; for in his eyes ridicule is the argument of fools... I will say to him, You will see that your welfare, in which my own is bound up, compels me to speak; I can do nothing else. But why do these young men want to persuade you? Because they desire to seduce you; they do not care for you, they take no real interest in you; their only motive is a secret spite because they see you are better than they; they want to drag you down to their level, and they only reproach you with submitting to control that they may themselves control you. Do you think you have anything to gain by this?.. To escape from the so-called prejudices of their fathers, they yield to those of their comrades...The triumph of mockers is soon over; truth endures, and their foolish laughter dies away...

...he recognizes the voice of friendship and he knows how to obey reason. It is true I allow him a show of freedom, but he was never more completely under control, because he obeys of his own free will. So long as I could not get the mastery over his will, I retained my control over his person; I never left him for a moment. Now I sometimes leave him to himself because I control him continually. When I leave him I embrace him and I say with confidence: Emile I trust you to my friend, I leave you to his honor; he will answer to you...

Whatever we may do, a young man’s worst enemy is himself, and this is an enemy we cannot avoid. Yet this is an enemy of our own making, for, as I have said again and again, it is the imagination which stirs the senses. Desire is not a physical need; it is not true that it is a need at all. If no lascivious object had met our eye, if no unclean thought had entered our mind, this so-called need might never have made itself felt, and we should have remained chaste, without temptation, effort, or merit...

Distrust instinct as soon as you cease to rely altogether upon it. Instinct was good while he acted under its guidance only; now that he is in the midst of human institutions, instinct is not to be trusted; it must not be destroyed, it must be controlled, which is perhaps a more difficult matter... If you be a slave, I prefer to surrender you to a tyrant from whom I may deliver you; whatever happens I can free you more easily from the slavery of women than from yourself...

Show your pupil your own weaknesses if you want to cure his; let him see in your struggles like his own; let him learn by your example to master himself... the qualities which make a good impression at the first glance are not his, he neither possesses them, nor desires to possess them. He cares too little for the opinions of other people to value their prejudices, and he is indifferent whether people esteem him or not until they know him... He cannot bear to see any one suffer...

Although Emile has no very high opinion of people in general, he does not show any scorn of them, because he pities them and is sorry for them... So he neither argues nor contradicts; neither does he flatter nor agree; he states his opinion without arguing with others, because he loves liberty above all things, and freedom is one of the fairest gifts of liberty...he is most at his ease when no one pays any attention to him...his manners are easy, not haughty; an insolent look is the mark of a slave...

He who loves desires to be loved. Emile loves his fellows and desires to please them. Even more does he wish to please the women; his age, his character, the object he has in view, all increase this desire. I say his character, for this has great effect; men of good character are those who really adore women. They have not the mocking jargon of gallantry like the rest, but their eagerness is more genuinely tender, because it comes from the heart... He will be more modest and respectful to married women, more eager and tender towards young girls. He never loses sight of his purpose, and it is always those who most recall it to him who receive the greater share of his attentions...

“The worst effect of artificial politeness is that it teaches us how to dispense with the virtues it imitates. If our education teaches us kindness and humanity, we shall be polite, or we shall have no need of politeness...”

Now is the time to read pleasant books; now is the time to teach him to analyze speech and to appreciate all the beauties of eloquence and diction. It is a small matter to learn languages, they are less useful than people think; but the study of languages leads us on to that of grammar in general... There is, moreover, a certain simplicity of taste which goes straight to the heart; and this is only to be found in the classics. In oratory, poetry, and every kind of literature, Emile will find the classical authors as he found them in history, full of matter and sober in their judgment. The authors of our own time, on the contrary, say little and talk much. To take their judgment as our constant law is not the way to form our own judgment... Speaking generally Emile will have more taste for the books of the ancients than for our own, just because they were the first, and therefore the ancients are nearer to nature and their genius is more distinct...

To amuse him he shall hear the chatter of the academies; I will draw his attention to the fact that every member of them is worth more by himself than he is as a member of society; he will then draw his own conclusions as to the utility of these fine institutions.

I take him to the theater to study taste, not morals; for in the theater above all taste is revealed to those who can think. Lay aside precepts and morality, I should say; this is not the place to study them. The stage is not made for truth; its object is to flatter and amuse; there is no place where one can learn so completely the art of pleasing and of interesting the human heart...

Oh, good youth, stay, make a pause in your reading, you are too deeply moved; I would have you find pleasure in the language of love, but I would not have you carried away by it; be a wise man, but be a good man too. If you are only one of these, you are nothing...

Neither a friend nor a mistress can be bought. Women may be got for money, but that road will never lead to love. Love is not only not for sale; money strikes it dead... The chief curse of the rich is dullness; in the midst of costly amusements, among so many men striving to give them pleasure, they are devoured and slain by dullness; their life is spent in fleeing from it and in being overtaken by it... We will be our own servants in order to be our own masters... Monopoly destroys pleasure. Real pleasures are those which we share with the crowd; we lose what we try to keep to ourselves alone... The demon of property spoils everything he lays hands upon. A rich man wants to be master everywhere, and he is never happy where he is; he is continually driven to flee from himself. I shall therefore continue to do in my prosperity what I did in my poverty. Henceforward, richer in the wealth of others than I ever shall be in my own wealth...

You will say, no doubt, that such amusements lie within the reach of all, that we need not be rich to enjoy them. That is the very point I was coming to. Pleasure is ours when we want it; it is only social prejudice which makes everything hard to obtain, and drives pleasure before us. To be happy is a hundredfold easier than it seems. If he really desires to enjoy himself the man of taste has no need of riches; all he wants is to be free and to be his own master...

While our time is thus employed, we are ever on the look-out for Sophy, and we have not yet found her. It was not desirable that she should be found too easily, and I have taken care to look for her where I knew we should not find her.

The time is come; we must now seek her in earnest, lest Emile should mistake some one else for Sophy, and only discover his error when it is too late. Then farewell Paris, far-famed Paris, with all your noise and smoke and dirt, where the women have ceased to believe in honor and the men in virtue. We are in search of love, happiness, innocence; the further we go from Paris the better.

Suggested Citation

(2020). Book 4. In (Ed.), Philosophy of Education. EdTech Books. Retrieved from https://edtechbooks.org/philosophy_of_education/emile_4

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