III. The 17th and 18th Centuries
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The idea of the "noble savage" was Rousseau's romantic conception of man enjoying a natural and noble existence until civilization makes him a slave to unnatural wants and corrupts him. Rousseau believed that only the "uncorrupted savage" is in possession of real virtue. In applying his romantic ideas to education, Rousseau believed in instructing children in physical and sensory methods until age 12, developing their intellectual skills from age 12 to 15, and their moral capacity from age 15 upward. Rousseau's notions influenced educators such as Itard, Seguin, and Montessori.


Influenced by the writings of Locke and Rousseau, the French Revolution (1792-1802) began the battle for recognition of the innate dignity and worth of all human beings. At the heart of the revolution was the belief that one is worthy of dignity not because of wealth or status, but simply because one is a human being.