Knowing What is Useful: Rousseau's Education Concerning Being, Science, and Happiness

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Is there a relationship between science and happiness and, if so, what is it? Clearly, since the Enlightenment, science has increased life expectancy and bodily comfort. Is this happiness, or do humans long for something more? To examine these questions, I investigate the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Specifically, I focus on the Discourses and the Emile, as he states in the Confessions that these works form a whole statement concerning the natural goodness of man. I agree with the literature that finds happiness, for Rousseau, is a sentiment one experiences when their faculties correspond to their desires, as this produces ... continued below

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Gross, Benjamin Isaak August 2017.

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  • Gross, Benjamin Isaak

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Is there a relationship between science and happiness and, if so, what is it? Clearly, since the Enlightenment, science has increased life expectancy and bodily comfort. Is this happiness, or do humans long for something more? To examine these questions, I investigate the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Specifically, I focus on the Discourses and the Emile, as he states in the Confessions that these works form a whole statement concerning the natural goodness of man. I agree with the literature that finds happiness, for Rousseau, is a sentiment one experiences when their faculties correspond to their desires, as this produces wholeness. In this dissertation, I find a form of modern science is necessary for humans to experience higher forms of happiness. This form of science is rooted in utility of the individual. To fully explain this finding, I begin with Rousseau's concept of being. By nature, our being experiences a low form of wholeness. I show Rousseau's investigation of being exposes a catch-22 situation for developing it to experience higher forms of wholeness. While freedom allows us to develop reason and judgment, we need reason and judgment to properly direct our freedom to perfect our individual being. I then show how three different types of tutors and educators, which include a scientific education, are directed by the single goal of maintaining wholeness in Emile's being so he can achieve the happiness of romantic love. Finally, I find that Emile's scientific education is an elaboration of the First Discourse and that his relationship with science, even from birth, plays a critical role for achieving romantic love in the future.

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  • August 2017

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  • Oct. 9, 2017, 11:44 a.m.

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Gross, Benjamin Isaak. Knowing What is Useful: Rousseau's Education Concerning Being, Science, and Happiness, dissertation, August 2017; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1011841/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .