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An Enlightened Education

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Chapter Summary

'Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.' Jean-Jacques Rousseau was good at writing opening lines, and this one from Emile, or On Education is one of his best. In his first book, published in 1777, De Perponcher frequently acknowledged his indebtedness to Rousseau, but in Onderwijs voor kinderen the Frenchman's name is no longer mentioned. Instead, several German pedagogues make an appearance. The philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that masturbation was the opposite of Enlightenment. Otto van Eck does not mention the subject in his diary, but on 20 February 1792 he was warned by his parents to 'withstand temptations to evil (which, as I grow older, will often come over me), perhaps surrendering myself to a bunch of lawless lads, possibly causing me to lose my health and, above all, leading to my own undoing'.

Keywords: Emile, or On Education; Enlightenment; German education; Otto van Eck

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