Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

pp 1-9

Date: Latest Version

Rousseau on Bildung and Morality


When the idea of Bildung is attached to Rousseau’s educational thinking, it is, of course, an anachronism. The idea of Bildung emerged in relation to the emergence of classical German idealism and is profoundly intertwined with its fundamental philosophical motives. When speaking about German idealism, we do not refer to a monolithic idea but to the thematically rich and complex philosophical discourse that often includes contradictory views on the fundamental philosophical concepts. If there is a common denominator that characterizes all the philosophies of German idealism, it is that they are all theories of freedom and this fundamental motivation is definitely Rousseauian in spirit. It was Rousseau who “discovered” the peculiar concept of autonomy that inherits from (and advanced) Kant to become a shared aspect of German idealism. It is this concept of autonomy on which the modern tradition of Bildung is based. It should be possible, then, to reconstruct the idea of Bild ...

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