Education and an ambivalent Enlightenment
in In pursuit of politics
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The authors discuss the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Claude-Adrien Helvétius and debate over female education and the gendered foundations of the social order. Rousseau and Helvétius, among those most closely associated with Enlightenment ideas about the importance and influence of education, saw the prospect of meaningful educational reform as little more than a fantasy in Ancien Régime France. Émile gives us good reason to think that Rousseau saw his project as divorced from the sorts of social, institutional, and practical concerns that emerged with the Jesuits' expulsion. Combining radically sensationist views of the mind with a utilitarian approach to politics, Helvétius's works presented a world in which education was saturated with social and political significance, and social and political circumstances were inescapably educative. His points were central to his 1758 work, De l'Esprit and De l'Homme.

In pursuit of politics

Education and revolution in eighteenth-century France

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