Rousseau Practiced Serial Child Abandonment

Little known fact.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher actually abandoned five children to Orphanages.

Isn’t it ironic that the philosopher who wrote one of the more influential books on the nature of the child and education (Emile, or also the title, On Education), would abandon his children in this way.

We often have these talks about philosophy, where ideas are introduced in a cerebral manner for consideration. We are encouraged to do our own mental gymnastics over the concepts, without much consideration for the actual end result of a life lived on such concepts. The more I study the life of Philosophers, like Rousseau, the more you see the brokenness of lives based on such thinking. This should be considered in the equation. Some philosophers abandoned children, others went insane, others committed suicide in hopelessness and despair. Figure out for yourself who I am writing about

Yet, these have become our philosophical guides? There is good in reading and understanding their insights into the human condition. However, A thought one should always consider as you read philosophy is this; Does it work in a real life and society when taken off the page of this book, where it is a mere thought, or concept? What does such thinking, when practiced, cause in a life? What are the living outcomes. Something may tickle our mind, but usher in a life of deep pain and brokenness, even despair. If this is the case, even a somewhat common outcome, why would you live on such a philosophy?

“Yes, it’s true: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher of compassion, fierce defender of the weak against the strong, the man who never tired of talking about equality and justice and virtue, who wrote a long book (Emile) about just the right way to raise children, sent all his own children to the Paris Foundling Hospital (an Orphanage) immediately upon birth. He never knew or even saw them.”
– David Potts

“Rousseau demanded that his mistress abandon all 5 of their children. Orphanages at that time were just as horrible as we imagine them to be, and it is highly unlikely that any of the children lived very long after their abandonment. To assuage his own guilt (especially since he too was an abandoned child), Rousseau boldly proclaimed that he abandoned his children for their own good. The State is the superior parent, he wrote. “I could have wished and still do wish that I had been brought up and nurtured as they have been…If only I could have had the same good fortune.” This absurd justification of his own abdication helped usher in an age of totalitarianism which agreed that people “should consider themselves only in their relationship to the Body of the State.”
– Angelina Stanford

According to Laurence L. Bongie, in his book From Rogue to Everyman: A Foundling’s Journey to the Bastille, around two-thirds of children placed in Paris orphanages died in their first year (About 20% higher than the national average at the time) . A significant number of the surviving third would not have made it to adulthood.

“Your first duty is to be humane. Love childhood. Look with friendly eyes on its games, its pleasures, its amiable dispositions. Which of you does not sometimes look back regretfully on the age when laughter was ever on the lips of the heart free of care? Why steal from the little innocents the enjoyments of a time that passes all too quickly?” (Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile, Book II).

Rousseau did not actually believe this, nor live it. If you don’t live a truth, do you really believe it?

Rousseau attempted to demonstrate “that man is by nature good, and that only our institutions have made him bad! Really,there is no biological, spiritual, or anthropological factors at play? Mankind was so simply good, innocent, peaceful, and happy in a primitive state? Society corrupted us?

“Furthermore, there is plenty of direct evidence that the horrors of human behavior cannot be so easily attributed to history and Society. This was discovered most painfully, perhaps, by the primatologist Jane Goodall, beginning in 1974, when she learned that her beloved chimpanzees were capable of and willing to murder each other (to use the terminology appropriate to humans). Because of its shocking nature and great anthropological significance, she kept her observations secret for years, fearing that her contact with the animals had led them to manifest unnatural behavior. Even after she published her account, many refused to believe it. It soon became obvious, however, that what she observed was by no means rare.

Furthermore, there is plenty of direct evidence that the horrors of human behaviour cannot be so easily attributed to history or Society. This was discovered most painfully, perhaps, by the primatologist Jane Goodall, beginning in 1974, when she learned that her beloved chimpanzees were capable of and willing to murder each other (to use the terminology appropriate to humans.) Because of its shocking nature and great anthropological significance, she kept her observations secret for years, fearing that her contact with the animals had lead them to manifest unnatural behaviour. Even after she published her account, many refused to believe it. It soon became obvious, however, that what she observed was by no means rare.

Bluntly put chimpanzees conduct their inter-tribal Warfare. Furthermore, they do it with almost unimaginable brutality. The typical full-grown champ is more than twice as strong as a comparable human being, despite their smaller size. Goodall reported with some terror the proclivity of the chimps she studied to snap strong steel cables and levers. Chimps can literally tear each other to pieces and they do. Human societies and their complex Technologies cannot be blamed for that….

‘Often when I woke in the night,’ she wrote, ‘horrific pictures spring unbidden to my mind – Satan [a long observed chimp] cupping his hand below sniffs chin to drink the blood that welled from a great wound in his face… Jerome tearing a strip of skin from De’s thigh; Figan, charging and hitting, again and again, the stricken, quivering body of Goliath, one of his childhood Heroes…..

Small gangs of adolescent chimps, mostly male, roam the borders of their territory. If they encounter foreigners (even chimps they once knew, who had broken away from the now-too-large group) and, if they outnumber them, the gang will Mob and Destroy them, without Mercy. Chimps don’t have much of a super-ego, and it is prudent to remember that the human capacity for self-control may also be overestimated. Careful perusal of book as shocking and horrific as Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking, which describes the brutal decimation of that Chinese City by the invading Japanese, will disenchant even a committed romantic. And the less said about Unit 731, a covert Japanese biological warfare research unit established at that time, the better. Read about it at your peril. You have been warned.”

– Jordan Peterson. 12 Rules For Life

I wonder then, since society and it’s institutions are so corrupt and cause so much evil, what did Rousseau feel the orphanage institution did for the children he abandoned to it? Yet he writes that the State is the superior parent for children. Yes, he actually wrote that. It’s a philosophy I hear today from education politicians. Two contradicting ideas in one!

Being able to identify philosophical world views really is like a pair of glasses as you read, or listen to people talk. The under girding assumptions become clear.

Rousseau has given us much personal and philosophical shit to wade through.

He spent more time developing his “Conscience” than his “Character.” He was certainly a product of his time, yet so much more a stunning visionary of his day.

I simply do not care for Rousseau’s vision of life much.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. JELUCKY says:

    hello andy can i republishe this article please?

    Like

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