Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Arnold Farr


Rousseau’s educational treatise Emile is a well-known pedagogical work often noted for its progressive educational insights. Although Kant’s Lectures on Pedagogy is much less well known, Kant suggests a solution to an educational problem Rousseau is unable to solve: the problem of whether or not education can work for the good of humanity. Rousseau is concerned that society, and the schools in society, inflames people’s passions and leads to inequality and enslavement. Rousseau sketches an educational program that ideally develops students’ autonomous moral reasoning untainted by inflamed passion, an education which enables students to be moral and just citizens, working for the good of humanity. I argue that Rousseau’s educational philosophy ultimately fails because Rousseau maintains a deep skepticism that society, and therefore schools, can ever be a good place for humans. Rousseau suggests education must go to extreme measures such as isolating students in a rural environment and manipulating all aspects of their lives to prevent passions from becoming inflamed. Implementing this kind of education is not only improbable for individual students; it is especially improbable that it could be implemented on a large scale.

I further argue that Kant’s educational philosophy provides a solution to the problems which beset Rousseau’s educational philosophy. Kant embraces negative passions as necessarily educative, and so his educational philosophy does not require extreme measures to combat negative passion. In addition, Kant argues that is only in society and through these negative passions that humanity develops. Kant’s educational philosophy is achievable for both the individual student and also on a large scale because it focuses on developing three key aspects of students that draw on capacities within the student and that are developed in community with others: a robust will bent towards the good; good and skilled moral judgment; and a commitment to the ethical commonwealth. Lastly, I argue that Hegel, Marcuse and Freire, three philosophers who follow after Kant, develop important aspects of Kant’s solution to Rousseau’s problem. Taken together, these four philosophers present a compelling educational philosophy which suggests that education not only can but indeed must work for the good of humanity

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)