- What is the main idea of Discourse on the Science and Art or First Discourse? (Elaborate
Rousseau’s answer on the initial question Whether the Restoration of the Sciences and Arts
has contributed to the Purification of Morals). Summarize shortly Part I and Part II of
Discourse. What is his position at the end of his Discourse? (some hints: art, science,
virtues, education, philosophy, nature as our master)
Rousseau lived in the era of Enlightment, where reason was a blind belief in the power of
human reason. In general, people were moving away from religion and the light was reason.
Furthermore, the Encyclopedia was invented which was an accumulation of knowledge. The
peak of Enlightment was the French Revolution.
Rousseau was part of the Enlightment at the beginning but started moving away.
Dijon: competition. Did our morals become better? There was a common belief that they did.
Therefore they did a competition and Rousseau wrote his approach in this paper. He submitted
the article, won, and became famous.
The question proposed by the academy was whether the restoration of the Sciences andArts
has contributed to the purification of morals. He knew that he would be criticized for the
position he took for his argument because it would be contradictory to all the men desire. He
claimed that even though the sciences and arts have made great progress it does not mean that
we are better people. When arts and sciences are flourishing, morality, and virtues are
declining. Rousseau is not against science but the problem with it is what we choose to do
with it. He is quoted that “it is virtue I defend before virtuous men” because to him, science is
not enough. Rousseau says that in order to find the answer he will use his heart “natural
light”. Basically, he believed that devoting ourselves to science and art does not mean that we
become better people and many did not like his take on the issue.
Criticizes Enlightment and takes a step back: we need to find something deeper than that.
With science we have made so many discoveries but what is grander and more difficult is to
go into ourselves.
Preface: people in that time thought that once we develop our science and technology, our
lives become better. However, the real question is, do we become happier? Are we happi