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The impossibility of reason
Author: Mads Qvortrup

This book presents an overview of Jean–Jacques Rousseau's work from a political science perspective. Was Rousseau — the great theorist of the French Revolution—really a conservative? The text argues that the author of ‘The Social Contract’ was a constitutionalist much closer to Madison, Montesquieu, and Locke than to revolutionaries. Outlining his profound opposition to Godless materialism and revolutionary change, this book finds parallels between Rousseau and Burke, as well as showing that Rousseau developed the first modern theory of nationalism. It presents an integrated political analysis of Rousseau's educational, ethical, religious and political writings.

Open Access (free)
The life and times of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Mads Qvortrup

1 The politics of the soul: the life and times of Jean-Jacques Rousseau1 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (St Matthew, 16.26) Did Ludwig Wittgenstein write the most successful love story of his century? Did Thomas Hobbes compose an opera – and did it inspire the work of Mozart? Did Byron write poems about Hume or Leibniz? Did Schiller compose sonnets about Descartes and Locke? These questions seem too ridiculous to warrant an answer. Ask the same questions about Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) and the opposite

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rousseau’s and nationalism
Mads Qvortrup

) true Christendom. This is no mean accomplishment. Chap004.p65 86 11/09/03, 13:35 A civic profession of faith 87 This conclusion should be ample proof that Benedict Anderson’s conclusion regarding nationalist political theorists was premature. At least one major philosopher has developed a political theory of nationalism; namely Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Not everybody will see this as an accomplishment. Rousseau’s enthusiasm for nationalism is not in vogue today. Yet it is worthwhile to remember that Rousseau was not the only one to reach this conclusion. A

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rousseau as a constitutionalist
Mads Qvortrup

3 Checks, balances and popular participation: Rousseau as a constitutionalist The liberty of the whole of humanity did not justify the shedding of blood of a single man. (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, L. 5450) Rousseau’s denunciation of violence as a means to an end, in his letter to the Countess of Wartesleben, is in stark contrast to the picture painted of him by his adversaries (see the previous chapter). While it is generally acknowledged that J.L. Talmon (1952) was unduly one-sided (HampsherMonk 1995) when accusing Rousseau’s ‘Jacobin’ philosophy for requiring

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Open Access (free)
Mads Qvortrup

men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them. (Machiavelli 1994: 3) Two hundred years later, one of his most famous disciples, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, sought to emulate the Florentine master, by taking up his pen. Like his

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Open Access (free)
In the beginning was song
Mads Qvortrup

, Music and Language (New York: Garland, 1987); Michael O’Dea, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Music, Illusion, and Desire (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1995); and Thomas M. Kavanagh, Writing the Truth. Authority and Desire in Rousseau (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1987). 2 Rousseau’s enmity towards Rameau was not surprising. In 1745 Rousseau had revised Rameau and Voltaire’s opera Les Fêtes de Ramire, which became a success. Yet Rousseau did not receive credit for the work. Chap006.p65 116 11/09/03, 13:36

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Mads Qvortrup

latterday feminists. As Nancy Hirschman has written, ‘since feminist political theory began as a subfield … that famous sexist Jean-Jacques Rousseau has been the political theorist that feminists love to hate’. Nancy Hirschman, ‘Rousseau’s Republican Romance’, review article, Political Theory, vol. 30, no. 1 (2000), 164. A new approach by feminists is contained in Elizabeth Rose Wingrove’s Rousseau’s Republican Romance. Wingrove reads Rousseau metaphorically, arguing that Rousseau’s ‘republicanism consists in proper performance of masculinity and femininity’. She goes on

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Mads Qvortrup

questionable if the Englishman would have expressed himself in this way had it not been for Jean-Jacques Rousseau.1 More than any other writer, Rousseau became the apostle of the romantic reaction against vain scientism and the intellectual hubris of the Enlightenment. Strangely, perhaps, as Rousseau in the same period was treated as the intellectual father of the French Revolution, and as he – according to Joseph De Maistre and Edmund Burke – was to blame for the demise of the traditional order. To be sure, great men invite different interpretations. Yet, it is difficult in

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Joshua Foa Dienstag in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

This book engages in a critical encounter with the work of Stanley Cavell on cinema, focusing skeptical attention on the claims made for the contribution of cinema to the ethical character of democratic life. In much of Cavell's writing on film he seeks to show us that the protagonists of the films he terms "remarriage comedies" live a form of perfectionism that he upholds as desirable for contemporary democratic society: moral perfectionism. Films are often viewed on television, and television shows can have "filmlike" qualities. The book addresses the nature of viewing cinematic film as a mode of experience, arguing against Cavell that it is akin to dreaming rather than lived consciousness and, crucially, cannot be shared. It mirrors the celebrated dialogue between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean D'Alembert on theatre. The book articulates the implications of philosophical pessimism for addressing contemporary culture in its relationship to political life. It clarifies how The Americans resembles the remarriage films and can illuminate the issues they raise. The tragedy of remarriage, would be a better instructor of a democratic community, if such a community were prepared to listen. The book suggests that dreaming, both with and without films, is not merely a pleasurable distraction but a valuable pastime for democratic citizens. Finally, it concludes with a robust response from Dienstag to his critics.

Letter to M. Cavell about cinema (a remake)
Joshua Foa Dienstag

establishment of a theater. It was generally suspected that this part of the article was either written or suggested by Voltaire, who was living in exile there at the time and complaining bitterly to his friends about the lack of a theater. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born in Geneva, had contributed many entries to the Encyclopédie on music and political economy and was well known as a

in Cinema, democracy and perfectionism