Human Virtue and Education: An application of the Insight of Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Liberal Arts Education

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Arts and Humanities | Philosophy


Dennis Beach, Philosophy


The thesis examines the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his idea of human virtue. His first two philosophical works, "Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts" and "On the Origins of Inequality" are used to develop an idea of what Rousseau believes is wrong with the present relationship between our society and the individuals who make it up. The later works of Emile and On the Social Contract are used to construct an idea of how individuals can live together while remaining true to the principles of their nature. One theme evident in each of these works is the role of education. Thus the final part of the thesis considers how education received at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University helps and hinders a student's process of becoming keenly aware of his or her human virtue.