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The moral of the story …

July 10, 2012

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile Book II:

“Watching children learning their fables and you will see that when they have a chance of applying them they almost always use them exactly contrary to the author’s meaning; instead of being on their guard against the fault which you would prevent or cure, they are disposed to like the vice by which one takes advantage of another’s defects.

In the above fable children laugh at the crow, but they all love the fox.

In the next fable, you expect them to follow the example of the grasshopper.  Not so, they will choose the ant.  They do not care to abase themselves, they will always choose the principal part – this is the choice of self-love, a very natural choice.

“But what a dreadful lesson for children! There could be no monster more detestable than a harsh and avaricious child, who realised what he was asked to give and what he refused.

“The ant does more, she teaches him not merely to refuse but to revile.”


The ant looked at the grasshopper and said, ‘All summer long I worked hard while you made fun of me, and sang and danced. You should have thought of winter then! Find somewhere else to sing, grasshopper! There is no warmth or food for you here!’ And the ant shut the door in the grasshopper’s face.

It is wise to worry about tomorrow today.

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