Emile: Or, on Education

By Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Allan Bloom | Go to book overview

BOOK II

THIS is the second period of life, and now infancy, strictly speaking, has ended. For the words infans and puer are not synonymous. The former is contained in the latter and signifies "one who cannot speak"; this is why puerum infantem is found in Valerius Maximus.1 But I shall continue to use this word according to the usage of our language until I reach an age for which it has another name.

When children begin to speak, they cry less. This is a natural progress. One language is substituted for the other. As soon as they can say with words that they are in pain, why would they say it with cries, except when the pain is too intense for speech to express it? If they continue to cry then, it is the fault of the people around them. As soon as Emile has once said, "It hurts," very intense pains indeed will be needed to force him to cry.

If the child is delicate, sensitive, if naturally he starts crying for nothing, by making his cries useless and ineffective, I will soon dry up their source. So long as he cries, I do not go to him. I run as soon as he has stopped. Soon his way of calling me will be to keep quiet or, at the most, to let out a single cry. It is by the effect they sense their cries make that children judge their own senses. There is no other convention for them. Whatever injury a child may do to himself, it is very rare that he cries when he is alone, unless he hopes to be heard.

If he falls, if he bumps his head, if his nose bleeds, if he cuts his fingers, instead of fussing around him as though I were alarmed, I will remain calm, at least for a short time. The harm is done; it is a necessity that he endure it; all my fussing would only serve to frighten him more and increase his sensitivity. At bottom, it is less the blow than the fear which torments when one has been hurt. I will at least spare him this latter anxiety, for quite certainly he will judge of his injury as he sees me judge of it. If he sees me run in agitation to console and pity him, he will consider himself lost. If he sees me keep my composure, he will soon regain his and will believe the injury cured when he no longer feels it. It is at this age that one gets the first lessons

-77-

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Emile: Or, on Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction 3
  • Conclusion 28
  • Preface 33
  • Book I 37
  • Book II 77
  • Book III 165
  • Book IV 211
  • Book V 357
  • Notes 481
  • Index 497
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