Comparing Jean-Jacques Rousseau And Mary Wollstonecraft

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Eighteenth century development characterizes some of the most influential movements in Western history. Chiefly, the emphasis on education through Enlightenment ideals permeated western society that extended over oceans. Figure heads, like Benjamin Franklin, of the movement provided the foundation for philosophers and authors alike to expand into areas that focus on the main tenets of the Enlightenment, the betterment of self so that the society as whole benefits. Individuals like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Mary Wollstonecraft emerge as prominent spokesmen on the necessity of education for a population and for the individual. This dramatic necessity placed by these two individuals on education is seen in their major works Emile, or On Education…show more content…
Her insistence on female education, however, can be extrapolated to the education of man. Wollstonecraft, with the paved road provided by those like Rousseau, challenges the current idea of education by appealing to men in logical arguments. The confidence that was emitted from Wollstonecraft provided her many opportunities, like opening a school, with, at the same time, receiving much negative attention for her radical opinions. However, this did not stop her from foresight into what could be once education is instituted for all by remarking, “The education of women has been attended in acquiring a smattering of accomplishments; meanwhile strength of body and mind are sacrificed to notions of beauty.” She postulated this would be overcome once “boys and girls shared an equal education.” (Eric) Wollstonecraft reveals what the consequence is for not educating females in a society dependent on its citizens, male and female. “The great misfortune is this, that they both [soldiers and females] acquire manners before morals, and knowledge of life before they have, from reflection, any acquaintance with the grand ideal outline of human nature. The consequence is natural; satisfied with common nature, they become a prey to prejudices, and taking all their opinion on credit, they blindly submit to authority. So that, if they have any sense, it is a kind of instinctive glance, that catches proportions, and decides with respect to manners; but fails when arguments are to pursued below the surface, or opinions analyzed.” This encapsulates the liberal arts agenda of the 21st century: to be able to be in the world with the skills of critical analyses and proper argument development in order to seek truths in the world. This, of course, is important for all people to A) seek and B) to have access too. Gender differences in this area are inexcusable.

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