The rise of modern science created a crisis for Western moral and political philosophy, which had theretofore relied either on Christian theology or Aristotelian natural teleology as guarantors of an objective standard for "the good life." This book examines Rousseau's effort to show how and why, despite this challenge from science (which he himself intensified by equating our subhuman origins with our natural state), nature can remain a standard for human behavior. While recognizing an original goodness in human being in the state of nature, Rousseau knew this to be too low a standard and promoted the idea of "the natural man living in the state of society," notably inEmile. Laurence Cooper shows how, for Rousseau, conscience—understood as the "love of order"—functions as the agent whereby simple savage sentiment is sublimated into a more refined "civilized naturalness" to which all people can aspire.
Adam Smith is popularly regarded as the ideological forefather of laissez-faire capitalism, while Rousseau is seen as the passionate advocate of the life of virtue in small, harmonious communities and as a sharp critic of the ills of commercial society. But, in fact, Smith had many of the same worries about commercial society that Rousseau did and was strongly influenced by his critique. In this first book-length comparative study of these leading eighteenth-century thinkers, Dennis Rasmussen highlights Smith’s sympathy with Rousseau’s concerns and analyzes in depth the ways in which Smith crafted his arguments to defend commercial society against these charges. These arguments, Rasmussen emphasizes, were pragmatic in nature, not ideological: it was Smith’s view that, all things considered, commercial society offered more benefits than the alternatives. Just because of this pragmatic orientation, Smith’s approach can be useful to us in assessing the pros and cons of commercial society today and thus contributes to a debate that is too much dominated by both dogmatic critics and doctrinaire champions of our modern commercial society.
Essays that put noted political thinkers of the past—including Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Wollstonecraft, Marx, and Confucius—in dialogue with current environmental political theory. Contemporary environmental political theory considers the implications of the environmental crisis for such political concepts as rights, citizenship, justice, democracy, the state, race, class, and gender. As the field has matured, scholars have begun to explore connections between Green Theory and such canonical political thinkers as Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, and Marx. The essays in this volume put important figures from the political theory canon in dialogue with current environmental political theory. It is the first comprehensive volume to bring the insights of Green Theory to bear in reinterpreting these canonical theorists. Individual essays cover such classical figures in Western thought as Aristotle, Hume, Rousseau, Mill, and Burke, but they also depart from the traditional canon to consider Mary Wollstonecraft, W. E. B. Du Bois, Hannah Arendt, and Confucius. Engaging and accessible, the essays also offer original and innovative interpretations that often challenge standard readings of these thinkers. In examining and explicating how these great thinkers of the past viewed the natural world and our relationship with nature, the essays also illuminate our current environmental predicament. Essays on Plato • Aristotle • Niccolò Machiavelli • Thomas Hobbes • John Locke • David Hume • Jean-Jacques Rousseau • Edmund Burke • Mary Wollstonecraft • John Stuart Mill • Karl Marx • W. E. B. Du Bois • Martin Heidegger • Hannah Arendt • Confucius Contributors Sheryl D. Breen, W. Scott Cameron, Peter F. Cannavò, Joel Jay Kassiola, Joseph H. Lane Jr. Timothy W. Luke, John M. Meyer, Özgüç Orhan, Barbara K. Seeber, Francisco Seijo, Kimberly K. Smith, Piers H. G. Stephens, Zev Trachtenberg, Andrew Valls, Harlan Wilson
Over a period of forty years, Rousseau combined his devotion to writing with his enthusiasm for chess, and these two passions necessarily intertwined. Rousseau was able to transfer his power of concentration and the strict dialectics of his literary writings to his chess strategy. If Rousseau’s analytical skills influenced his attitude toward the game, then the game of chess inspired his logic and affected his discourse. Interpreted as a form of rationality, as a conceptual paradigm, the rules and strategies of chess accurately describe Rousseau’s ideas for social management, political power, and organization. Reading Jean-Jacques Rousseau through the Prism of Chess shows that Rousseau’s political theory, though allegedly inspired by Nature, found a perfect model in a game created by mankind; chess thus became a reference for his philosophical discourse and practice as well as a method to systematize Nature and organize society.
In The Psychology of Inequality, Michael Locke McLendon looks to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's thought for insight into the personal and social pathologies that plague commercial and democratic societies. He emphasizes the way Rousseau appropriated and modified the notion of self-love, or amour-propre, found in Augustine and various early modern thinkers. McLendon traces the concept in Rousseau's work and reveals it to be a form of selfish vanity that mimics aspects of Homeric honor culture and, in the modern world, shapes the outlook of the wealthy and powerful as well as the underlying assumptions of meritocratic ideals. According to McLendon, Rousseau's elucidation of amour-propre describes a desire for glory and preeminence that can be dangerously antisocial, as those who believe themselves superior derive pleasure from dominating and even harming those they consider beneath them. Drawing on Rousseau's insights, McLendon asserts that certain forms of inequality, especially those associated with classical aristocracy and modern-day meritocracy, can corrupt the mindsets and personalities of people in socially disruptive ways. The Psychology of Inequality shows how amour-propre can be transformed into the demand for praise, whether or not one displays praiseworthy qualities, and demonstrates the ways in which this pathology continues to play a leading role in the psychology and politics of modern liberal democracies.
Protecting the natural environment and promoting sustainability have become important objectives, but achieving such goals presents myriad challenges for even the most committed environmentalist. American Environmentalism: Philosophy, History, and Public Policy examines whether competing interests can be reconciled while developing consistent, cohe
In 1758, Rousseau announced that he had adopted "vitam impendere vero" (dedicate life to truth) as a personal pledge. Despite the dramatic nature of this declaration, no scholar has yet approached Rousseau’s work through the lens of truth or truthseeking. What did it mean for Rousseau to lead a life dedicated to truth? This book presents Rousseau’s normative account of truthseeking, his account of what human beings must do if they hope to discover the truths essential to human happiness. Rousseau’s writings constitute a practical guide to these truths; they describe how he arrived at them and how others might as well. In reading Rousseau through the lens of truth, Neidleman traverses the entirety of Rousseau's corpus, and, in the process, reveals a series of symmetries among the disparate themes treated in those texts. The first section of the book lays out Rousseau’s general philosophy of truth and truthseeking. The second section follows Rousseau down four distinct pathways to truth: reverie, republicanism, religion, and reason. With a strong grounding in both the Anglophone and Francophone scholarship on Rousseau, this book will appeal to scholars across a broad range of disciplines.
What is the modern turn in philosophy? In other words, what are the features that make modern philosophy distinctively “modern” in contrast with the pre-modern philosophy from which it emerged – for example, medieval scholasticism, Renaissance philosophy, and ancient Greek and Roman thought? How did the modern turn in philosophy transpire? That is, what did specific philosophers contribute that shaped the distinctive character of modern philosophy? The twelve essays in this volume seek to address these questions, and in doing so they exemplify and contribute to a rich debate about the nature and value of modern philosophy. This volume approaches the modern turn not as an event that occurred all at once, but rather as a series of shifts in different areas of philosophy at different times. The essays are arranged broadly in chronological order of the topics they treat. Among the themes that recur most often in these essays are, first, that modern philosophy is characteristically preoccupied with questions about foundations and, second, that it ultimately prioritizes practice over theory. But the virtues of this text is in presenting a wide range or perspectives on modern philosophy – what constitutes it as modern, when it arose, and what its shortcomings may be.
This book is the first comprehensive study of Rousseau's rich and complex theory of the type of self-love (amour propre ) that, for him, marks the central difference between humans and the beasts. Amour propre is the passion that drives human individuals to seek the esteem, approval, admiration, or love—the recognition —of their fellow beings. Neuhouser reconstructs Rousseau's understanding of what the drive for recognition is, why it is so problematic, and how its presence opens up far-reaching developmental possibilities for creatures that possess it. One of Rousseau's central theses is that amour propre in its corrupted, manifestations—pride or vanity—is the principal source of an array of evils so widespread that they can easily appear to be necessary features of the human condition: enslavement, conflict, vice, misery, and self-estrangement. Yet Rousseau also argues that solving these problems depends not on suppressing or overcoming the drive for recognition but on cultivating it so that it contributes positively to the achievement of freedom, peace, virtue, happiness, and unalienated selfhood. Indeed, Rousseau goes so far as to claim that, despite its many dangers, the need for recognition is a condition of nearly everything that makes human life valuable and that elevates it above mere animal existence: rationality, morality, freedom—subjectivity itself—would be impossible for humans if it were not for amour propre and the relations to others it impels us to establish.
Older research on the premodern world limited its focus on the Church, the court, and, more recently, on urban space. The present volume invites readers to consider the meaning of rural space, both in light of ecocritical readings and social-historical approaches. While previous scholars examined the figure of the peasant in the premodern world, the current volume combines a large number of specialized studies that investigate how the natural environment and the appearance of members of the rural population interacted with the world of the court and of the city. The experience in rural space was important already for writers and artists in the premodern era, as the large variety of scholarly approaches indicates. The present volume signals how much the surprisingly close interaction between members of the aristocratic and of the peasant class determined many literary and art-historical works. In a surprisingly large number of cases we can even discover elements of utopia hidden in rural space. We also observe how much the rural world was a significant element already in early-medieval mentality. Moreover, as many authors point out, the impact of natural forces on premodern society was tremendous, if not catastrophic.
In Rousseau on Education, Freedom, and Judgment, Denise Schaeffer challenges the common view of Rousseau as primarily concerned with conditioning citizens’ passions in order to promote republican virtue and unreflective patriotism. Schaeffer argues that, to the contrary, Rousseau’s central concern is the problem of judgment and how to foster it on both the individual and political level in order to create the conditions for genuine self-rule. Offering a detailed commentary on Rousseau’s major work on education, Emile, and a wide-ranging analysis of the relationship between Emile and several of Rousseau’s other works, Schaeffer explores Rousseau’s understanding of what good judgment is, how it is learned, and why it is central to the achievement and preservation of human freedom. The model of Rousseauian citizenship that emerges from Schaeffer’s analysis is more dynamic and self-critical than is often recognized. This book demonstrates the importance of Rousseau’s contribution to our understanding of the faculty of judgment, and, more broadly, invites a critical reevaluation of Rousseau’s understanding of education, citizenship, and both individual and collective freedom.