What is Emotion Education?June 27, 2021
According to Rousseau, self-love in man is the most basic emotion in him; this feeling is primal, instinctive, all the rest are variations of this feeling. But this feeling should not be confused with selfishness. “Because selfishness is a feeling that arises only in society and always leads one to prefer oneself to others.” In the primitive state of nature there was no selfishness.
Therefore, self-love, when considered in itself, is always good, always in harmony with the natural order. In addition, the feelings of pity and compassion are also natural for primitive man, that is, these feelings are also in his nature. Compassion contributes to the maintenance of the species by tempering the violence of self-love in each individual, and in the state of nature the laws of compassion replace morality and virtue. But still, compassion is a derivative of self-love. He attempts to explain how the feeling of compassion or pity arises in Emile: He states that the individual shows compassion and sympathy not only to those who are happy with him, but also to those who suffer from ailments to which he is not immune. He argues, then, that the original self-love is not replaced by an independent natural feeling of pity or compassion that accompanies it, but, on the contrary, that when one begins to pay attention to others as well, the feeling of pity is derived from the self-love that originally contained it. Thus, pity or compassion is the first relative emotion.
According to Rousseau, the most basic human emotion is self-love. All other emotions are modifications of this primal emotion.
Rousseau also states that self-love is not a simple love. Because man is a composite being. He has both sense and thinking ability. The will of the sensuous is inclined to the well-being of the body, while the will of the thinking faculty is inclined to the well-being and development of the soul, in the form of love or desire for order. Rousseau calls this development of consciousness. Both the orientation to the well-being of the body and the orientation to the well-being of the soul are both expressed in self-love. Moral concepts are formed mostly depending on the development of the senses; From this point of view, virtues arise, as well as vices. Meanwhile, one of the most important concepts developing on self-love is the concept of justice. Accordingly, the concept of justice derives not from what we owe to others, but from what we are entitled to. Again, from the natural feeling of compassion all social virtues such as generosity, forgiveness or humanity arise. Since we cannot eliminate these basic impulses or passions, moral development consists in the proper management and expansion of the basic passion of self-love. Morality is thus an irresistible development of man’s natural passions and feelings. Virtue is not natural to man, it is the product of very different circumstances. For example, the rise of civilization has increased human wants and needs, and this has given birth to selfishness, hatred and anger-filled passions. So the simple people, those closest to nature, undisturbed by the artificial emotions and passions of civilization, will be the most receptive to the voice of the senses. The principles of virtue are written in the hearts of the simple-spirited, and they find it out at once with the sound of the senses. “This is the true philosophy with which we have to be content.”
Although Rousseau does not deny that reason and thought have a role to play in the development of morality, he even suggests this, but he emphasizes more on emotion. On this subject, he says: “The truth that I sense rightly is the curve that I sense as crooked… It is only when we contend with the senses that we must resort to the subtleties of reasoning.” With this last expression, the word emotion now denotes direct perception or intuition. And this point brings with it Rousseau’s deism: Because many people can say that they sense the existence of God by looking at the world system. “I see God everywhere and I feel him in me.” he may say. Moreover, the Savoyard priest said these to Rousseau, and Rousseau accepted this final proposition.
Rousseau’s glorification of intuition and inner feeling, 18. He was expressing an oppositional reaction to rationalism, which was so prevalent in the second half of the century. This reaction also strongly influenced attempts to rebel against rationalism. This point created a romantic thinker in the personality of Rousseau during the enlightenment period, which can also be understood as an anti-Enlightenment. However, there are also very important ideas suitable for the spirit of enlightenment in Rousseau. The fact that he includes fundamental rights and freedoms in the Social Contract constitutes the carrier spirit of the Enlightenment political philosophy. For this reason, it is inevitable to see Rousseau as a part of enlightenment.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook