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GROWTH OF THE DEMOCRATIC IDEAL IN EDUCATION
During the eighteenth century, there appeared the climax to the revolt against absolutism.
This movement was directed against repression of intellect in the first half of the century, and against repression of political rights in the second half. The former phase, through Voltaire, made reason the basis of society and education, but introduced the tyranny of an intellectual few; the latter, through Rousseau, promoted an emotionalism and 'naturalism' that were in keeping with the sentiments of the times.
The early treatises of Rousseau advocated a complete return to nature, but his later works somewhat modified this attitude.
The Revolt from Absolutism.-The ideal of universality and of state control in the education of America and other countries was greatly assisted by the climax to the general revolt against absolutism and ecclesiasticism that appeared in the eighteenth century. During this period of time most strenuous efforts were made to interpret life from a more reasonable and natural point of view and to overthrow all customs and institutions that did not square with these tests. This The eighteenth century marked the climax of the rebellion against au- century thority and against the enslavement of the individual climax of the that had been manifesting itself in one form or another against the from the close of the Middle Ages. One revival after the individual.
another the Renaissance, the Reformation, realism, Puritanism, Pietism-had burst forth only to fade away or harden into a new formalism and authoritative standard. Yet with each effort something was really accomplished for freedom and progress, and the way was paved for the seemingly abrupt break from tradition that appears to mark the period roughly included in the eighteenth century. At this point despotism and ecclesiasticism were becoming thoroughly intolerable, and the individual tended more and more to assert his right to be an end in himself. At times all institutional barriers were swept aside, and in the French Revolution destruction went to an extreme. The logical consequence of these movements would have been complete social disintegration, had not the nineteenth century happily made conscious efforts to justify the eighteenth, and bring out the positions that were only implied in the negations of the latter. Thus the revolutionary tendencies and destruction of absolutism in the eighteenth century led to evolutionary movements and the construction of democracy in the nineteenth.
The Two Epochs in the Eighteenth Century.—But this revolt of the eighteenth century from absolutism in politics, religion, and thought falls naturally into two parts. During the first half of the century the move
ment was directed against repression in theology and sion (1) of in- intellect, and during the second half against repression
(2) of political in politics and the rights of man. The former tendency appears in the rationalism and skepticism of such men as Voltaire and the 'encyclopedists,' while the latter becomes evident chiefly in the emotionalism and ‘naturalism' of Rousseau. Although these aspects of the
revolutionary movement somewhat overlapped each other and had certain features in common, they should be clearly distinguished. The one prepared the way for the other by seeking to destroy existing abuses, especially of the Church, by the application of reason, but it gave no ear to the claims of the masses, and sought merely to replace the traditionalism of the clergy and monarch with the tyranny of an intellectual few. In distinction to this rule of 'reason,' 'naturalism' declared that the intellect could not always be trusted as the proper monitor, but that conduct could better be guided by the emotions as the true expression of nature. It opposed the control of intellectual aristocracy and demanded rights for the common man.
Voltaire and the Encyclopedists. The rationalistic and scientific tendency was chiefly developed by Diderot, Voltaire, Condillac, D'Alembert, and others interested in the production of the French Encyclopédie. Of all these 'encyclopedists' the most keen and brilliant was Voltaire (1694-1778), who may well serve as the type of the whole movement. With matchless wit and literary skill, in a remarkable range of poems, epistles, epigrams,
and other writings, he championed reason against the Championed reason against traditional institutions of State and Church. His chief traditions, object of attack was the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which seemed to him to stand seriously in the way of all liberty, individuality, and progress, and the slogan with which he often closed his letters was,"crush the infamous thing." The Protestant beliefs he likewise condemned as hysterical and irrational. While an exile in England, as the result of a quarrel with a member of the nobility, he became acquainted with the work
of Newton, Harvey, Bacon, Locke, and others (see pp. 164 f.), and undertook to transplant the English English scien- scientific movement to France, and make it the basis of
and undertook to transplant
a new régime in society, religion, and education.
The other rationalistic writers had similar doctrines and purposes, and, although details of their ideas are hardly worthy of consideration here, most of them produced treatises upon education. In these they freely criticised the traditional school systems, and proposed New theories of new theories of organization, content, and method, which must later have assisted to demolish the existing theory and practice in France. Thus rationalism sought to destroy despotism and superstition, and to establish in their place freedom in action, social justice, and religious toleration. But in casting away the old, it swung to the opposite extreme and often degenerated into skepticism, anarchy, and license. In their fight against into skepticism despotic ecclesiasticism, the rationalists often failed to
distinguish it from Christianity, and they opposed the Church because it was irrational rather than because it was not sincere. They felt that it might have a mission with the masses who were too dull and uneducated to be able to reason. So while rationalism wielded a mighty weapon against the fettering of the human intellect, it cared little about improving the condition of the lower classes, who were sunk in poverty and ignorance, and were universally oppressed.
Rousseau and His Times.-In opposition to this intellectualistic and rationalistic attitude, Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) developed his emotionalism and 'naturalism.' The social and educational positions of this reformer find a ready explanation in his antecedents