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课堂讨论(1)

Emile, ou l'education

Emile or On Education

BOOK ONE

[1:] Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man. He forces one soil to nourish the products of another, one tree to bear the fruits of another. He mixes and confuses the climates, the elements, the seasons. He mutilates his dog, his horse, his slave. He turns everything upside down, he disfigures everything, he loves deformities, monsters. He wants nothing as nature made it, not even man himself. For him man must be trained like a saddle- horse; he must be shaped according to the fashion, like trees in his garden.

[2:] Prejudice, authority, necessity, example -- all the social conditions in which we find ourselves submerged-- would stifle nature in him and put nothing in its place. Human nature would be like a seedling that chance had sown in the midst of the highway, bent this way and that and soon crushed by the passers-by.

[3:] It is you whom I address, tender, foresighted mother-- you who know how to stay away from the busy highway and protect the growing seedling from the impact of human opinion! Cultivate and water the young plant before it dies; its fruit will one day be your delight. Early on, form an enclosure around your child's soul.

[4:] Plants are fashioned by cultivation, man by education. If a man were born tall and strong, his size and strength would be of no good to him until he had learned to use them; they would even harm him by preventing others from wanting to assist him. Left to himself he would die of misery before he knew his needs. We lament the helplessness of infancy; we fail to perceive that the human race would have perished had not man begun by being a child.

[5:] We are born weak, we need strength; we are born lacking everything, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. All that we lack at birth and that we need when we are grown is given by education.

[6:] This education comes to us from nature, from men, or from things. The inner growth of our organs and faculties is the education of nature, the use we learn to make of this growth is the education of men, and what we gain by our experience of our surroundings is the education of things. Thus we are each taught by three masters. [7:] Now of these three factors in education, the education of nature is wholly beyond our control; that of things is only partly in our power; the education of men is the only one of which we are truly the master. And even here our power is largely illusory, for who can hope to direct every word and action of all those who surround a child?

[8:] As much therefore as education is an art, it is almost impossible that it succeed, since the coordination necessary to its success depends on no one person. All one can do by one's own efforts is to more or less approach the goal. One needs luck to attain it.

[9:] What is this goal? It is the goal of nature, which has just been proved. Since the coordination of the three educations is necessary to their perfection, the two that we can control must follow the lead of that which is beyond our control. Perhaps this word Nature has too vague a meaning. Let us try to define it.

[10:] Nature, we are told, is merely habit. What does this signify? As long as we stay in the same condition we will keep those inclinations that result from habit. Education is certainly only a habit, for there are people who forget or lose their education and others who keep it.

[11:] We are born sensitive and from our birth onwards we are affected in various ways by the objects that surround us. As soon as we have, so to speak, consciousness of our sensations, we are disposed to seek out or shun the things that cause them, at first because they are pleasant or unpleasant, then because they suit us or not, and finally because of judgments of them formed by means of the ideas of happiness and goodness which reason gives us. These tendencies gain strength and permanence as we become more sensitive and more enlightened.But once they are constrained by our habits, they become more or less corrupted by our opinions. Before this change they are what I call nature within us.