History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.5(a)

History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2011: Q.5 (a)

Q.5 (a)  “The Promptings of the Heart are more to be Trusted than the Logic of the Mind.”: Rousseau


Rousseau was among first proponent of Romanticism

‘Romanticism’, as philosophy, stressed a return to life as it can be seen, felt, and experienced and thus encouraged a reliance on emotion, intuition, and instinct as opposed to reason in guiding human behavior.

Rousseau emphasised on natural order and the natural state of man, instead of distorted through the process of over-emphasising reason in guiding human behavior. His theory of ideas and romanticism reckons all to be born as good but distorted by reasons.

Rousseau’s autobiography ‘Confessions’ ushered in a whole new era of thinking that eventually developed into Romanticism.
‘Confessions’ opened up a whole new world of personal revelation in the genre of autobiography. No previous memoirist had ever discussed his anxiety over the struggle for integrity—nor elucidated his own flaws—so openly. By being so frank and personal, Rousseau questioned the developments taking place in the world through reason.

The given statement shows Rousseau’s Romanticism

When Rousseau said, “The Promptings of the Heart are more to be trusted than the Logic of the Mind”, he was reflecting his romanticism. It emphasizes on drawing inspiration from one’s own heart than mind to find the answers in life as mind might be corrupted due to over-emphasising on reason. His philosophy was clearly contrary to the contemporary notions of reason.

Rousseau did not see anything ‘human face’ in an era of scientific development and application of science which had brought material developments. According to him, industrialisation brought more misery than good, and this is because we trusted application of mind more than application of heart. Had heart been trusted, there would have been lesser misery.

Rousseau favoured more to loving family life, love for labor etc (which could be possible thorugh heart) instead of materialistic life where focus is on scientific developments, increase in production and profit etc.

Following lines of English philosopher G.K. Chesterton clearly justifies Rousseau’s statement:

“Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching ‘ a man’s heart but, we can do nothing to his head but hit it.”

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