Contemporary Criticis

Rousseau's disdain for educational convention, part of the corrupt institutionalization of humankind, did not go unchallenged. Certain educational critics were all too eager to strike back at Rousseau. Rousseau, in encouraging disregard for education, necessarily supported an amorphous state of near-idleness in which the mind of the child could expand itself unhindered. Critics, cognizant of the hypocritical reality of Rousseau's argument, in that he sought to attack material wealth, argued that those who were not born into the financial means, namely the aristocrats, did not have this luxury of idleness that Rousseau encouraged. Furthermore, the rigorous educational training of the young was seen to spur moral growth which effects the rich along with the poor.10

In addition, Voltaire (pictured to the left), a fellow French philosopher, had nothing but harsh criticism for Rousseau. In polar opposition to Rousseau's ideas, this quick-witted and sharp-tongued philosopher strongly believed in the use of reason and education to heighten the lot of humanity.11 Upon receiving a copy of Rousseau's "The Social Contract," Voltaire replied:

I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it.