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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.

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The politics of the soul

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

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A civic profession of faith

Rousseau’s and nationalism

Mads Qvortrup

unenthusiastic in his autobiographical recollections of the projects. In Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques: Dialogues,6 the most ruthless and colourful of his four texte autobiographique7 he notes simply – and without affection, Chap004.p65 75 11/09/03, 13:35 76 The political philosophy of Rousseau that in 1771 ‘Jean-Jacques devoted six months … first to studying the constitution of an unhappy nation [Poland], then to propounding his ideas on improvements that needed to be made in that constitution’ (‘employé six mois dans le même intervalle a l’examen la constitution d

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Epilogue

In the beginning was song

Mads Qvortrup

that fateful day in 1749, chances are that Rousseau would have remained an obscure figure and not a celebrated or reviled author. It is more likely that he (at best) would be remembered as a (very minor) composer – though Mozart adored his work (Wivel 1996: 65) In Dialogues he has the character of Jean-Jacques say of Rousseau, who is the subject of this strangest of autobiographies; ‘he was born for music … he discovered approaches that are clearer, easier, simpler and facilitate composition and performance … I have never seen a man so passionate about music as he

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Mads Qvortrup

led – albeit unintentionally – to the establishment of the most successful of all the ideologies of modernity: nationalism. Poor Jean-Jacques, so often cited, so rarely quoted, so consistently misunderstood. ‘C’est la faute à Rousseau’ (‘It is Rousseau’s fault’) said one of the characters in Hugo’s Les Misérables (Hugo 2000: 313). A bit of an exaggeration – but not widely off the mark. History’s verdict has been harsh. Hippolyte Taine and other historians of the French Revolution have Chap005.p65 105 11/09/03, 13:36 106 The political philosophy of Rousseau

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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

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Checks, balances and popular participation

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

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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

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Cinema, democracy and perfectionism

Joshua Foa Dienstag in dialogue

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Edited by: Joshua Foa Dienstag

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.

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The tragedy of remarriage

Letter to M. Cavell about cinema (a remake)

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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