I. Early Life A. parents 1. déclassé B. education 1. reading 2. apprenticeship C. leaving Geneva 1. curfew, 1728 2. conversion D. no vocation 1. relations with women a. Mme de Warens b. Thérèse Levasseur 2. ministry, tutoring, diplomacy, clerking 3. music
A plaque commemorating the bicentenary of Rousseaus birth. Issued bythe city of Geneva on 28 June 1912. The legend at the bottom says "Jean-Jacques, aime ton pays" ("love your country"), and shows Rousseausfather gesturing towards the window. The scene is drawn from a footnoteto the Letter to dAlembert where Rousseau recalls witnessing the popularcelebrations following the exercises of the St Gervais regiment. Wikipedia
...in his Letter to M. D’ Alembert on the Theater written when he was forty-ﬁve, there is an eloquent passage which reads: I remember being struck in my childhood by a rather simple scene...the St. Gervais militia had completed their exercises and, as was the custom, each of the companies ate together; and after supper most of them met in the square of St. Gervais, where the ofﬁcers and soldiers all danced together around the fountain. My father, embracing me, was thrilled in a way that I can still feel and share. ‘Jean-Jacques’, he said to me, ‘love your country. Look at these good Genevans, they are all friends; they are all brothers; joy and harmony reigns among them. You are a Genevan. One day you will see other nations, but even if you travel as far as your father has, you will never ﬁnd any people to match your own.Maurice Cranston, trans., Introduction, Rousseau; A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, 1984. pp. 18-1 9
Rousseau’s parentsIsaac Rousseau Suzanne Bernard Rousseau 1672-1747 1673-17123rd generation Genevan from a wealthier family withwatchmaker connections to the Genevan academic elitemarried “above his station” her father was a Calvinisthimself, well educated, saw to preacher, her uncle left her ahis son’s education beautiful home and impressive library1722-exiled after a quarrel,left his son to the care of his she died 9 days after givingbrother-in-law Gabriel birth to Jean-JacquesBernard, went to Turkey
The house whereRousseau was born atnumber 40, place duBourg-de-Four,Geneva.
I.B.1-readingRousseau had no recollection of learning to read, but he remembered how when he was 5or 6 his father encouraged his love of reading: Every night, after supper, we read some part of a small collection of romances [i.e., adventure stories], which had been my mothers. My fathers design was only to improve me in reading, and he thought these entertaining works were calculated to give me a fondness for it; but we soon found ourselves so interested in the adventures they contained, that we alternately read whole nights together and could not bear to give over until at the conclusion of a volume. Sometimes, in the morning, on hearing the swallows at our window, my father, quite ashamed of this weakness, would cry, "Come, come, let us go to bed; I am more a child than thou art." Confessions, Book 1Not long afterward, Rousseau abandoned his taste for escapist stories in favor of theantiquity of Plutarchs Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, which he would read to hisfather while he made watches. Wikipedia, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
[After his father’s exile] Jean-Jacques was left with his maternal uncle, whopacked him, along with his own son, Abraham Bernard, away to board for twoyears [1722-24] with a Calvinist minister in a hamlet outside Geneva. Here theboys picked up the elements of mathematics and drawing. Rousseau, who wasalways deeply moved by religious services, for a time even dreamed of becominga Protestant minister. Ibid.
I.B.2-apprenticeship & C.1.curfewVirtually all our information about Rousseaus youth has come from hisposthumously published Confessions, in which the chronology is somewhatconfused, though recent scholars have combed the archives for conﬁrmingevidence to ﬁll in the blanks. At age 13, Rousseau was apprenticed ﬁrst to anotary and then to an engraver who beat him. At 15, he ran away from Geneva(on 14 March 1728) after returning to the city and ﬁnding the city gates lockeddue to the curfew. Ibid.
I.C.Leaving Geneva 2.conversion In adjoining Savoy he took shelter with a Roman Catholic priest, whointroduced him to Françoise-Louise de Warens, age 29. She was a noblewomanof Protestant background who was separated from her husband. Asprofessional lay proselytizer, she was paid by the King of Piedmont to help bringProtestants to Catholicism. They sent the boy to Turin, the capital of Savoy(which included Piedmont, in what is now Italy), to complete his conversion. Thisresulted in his having to give up his Genevan citizenship, although he would laterrevert to Calvinism in order to regain it. In converting to Catholicism, both De Warens and Rousseau were likelyreacting to Calvinisms insistence on the total depravity of man. Leo Damroschwrites, "an eighteenth-century Genevan liturgy still required believers to declare‘that we are miserable sinners, born in corruption, inclined to evil, incapable byourselves of doing good." De Warens, a deist by inclination, was attracted toCatholicisms doctrine of forgiveness of sins. Ibid.
Les Charmettesthe house where Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived with Mme de Warens It is now a museum dedicated to Rousseau
Les Charmettesthe house where Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived with Mme de Warens It is now a museum dedicated to Rousseau
1.D.- no vocation 1.relations with women a.Mme de Warens1699-born a Swiss Protestant, at age 26, she emigratedto Annecy, Savoy1726-that year, she converted to Roman Catholicism &annulled her marriage. She then received a fee forconverting Genevan Protestants1728-Palm Sunday-age 28, met Rousseau (15) andbecame his benefactress and, later, his mistress. Hecalled her maman.1733-She(33) took him (20) as a lover. She was alsointimate with her servant. “This ménage à trois left himsexually confused”-Wiki Françoise-Louise de Warens“She gave [him] the education he lacked and fulﬁlled 1699-1762his hungry spirit, his need for love. Rousseau neverforgot her.” --French Wiki
1.D.1.b. - Thérèse Le Vasseur “At ﬁrst I sought to give myself amusement, but I saw I had gone further andhad given myself a companion.”-- Confessions 1745-later, Rousseau (33) began an affair with Marie-Thérèse (24) she was a seamstress, sole support of her family in the Confessions he would refer to her as his “wife, mistress, servant, daughter”-German Wiki his friends, fellow philosophes, were at a loss to explain their partnership. She seemed “beneath his station,” certainly, she was less than beautiful they never married, had four children, all of whom were given to a foundling hospital, i.e., orphaned although he would take up with other women, he Thérèse Le Vasseur would return to this other great love at life’s end 1721-1801
I.D-no vocation.2-ministry, tutoring1722-24--he considered becoming a Calvinist minister1725-28--two different failed apprenticeships1729--sent to Turin to become grounded in his new Catholic faith, he left theminor seminary. He had no vocation for ministry in the Church of Rome either1730-returning to Mme de Warens, he took music and other lessons. He begancopying music to earn money and tutoring a few of the local youth1737-he came into a small inheritance from his mother and used a portion of it torepay his benefactress1739-he moved to Lyons and became a tutor there1742-not satisﬁed with this lifestyle, he went to Paris to present to the Académiedes Sciences a new system of musical notation which he believed would make hisfortune. Without success.
1.D.2.diplomacy1743-44-as secretary to the Comte de Montaigue,he travelled to Venicethe ambassador regarded him as a sort of servant,but Rousseau acted as if he were much more like amember of the diplomatic staffneedless to say, this was a disaster waiting tohappenthere were arguments over pay, which was delayedbecause the ambassador himself received hisstipend from Paris as much as a year lateafter eleven months of bickering Rousseau was Palazzo in Venice that served asdismissed. Clearly he had no vocation for the French Embassy during Rousseaus period as Secretarydiplomacy to the Ambassador
1.D.2.diplomacy [a different take]In 1743 Rousseau was thirty-one years old and working as private secretaryto the Comte de Montaigu, French Ambassador to the Venetian Republic.This place gave Rousseau his ﬁrst intimate acquaintance with politics andgovernment. The ambassador was a retired general with no qualiﬁcations oraptitude for diplomacy. Rousseau, who was quick and capable, and couldspeak Italian, performed the duties of Embassy Secretary. Unfortunately,he had no ofﬁcial status; he was not a diplomatist; he was the ambassador’spersonal employee; he was, as the ambassador tactlessly reminded him fromtime to time, a domestic servant. Rousseau felt cheated and humiliated. Todo the work of a diplomatist and be treated as a lackey was unbearable.*Within a year he was gone, dismissed, and not even given his promisedwages.*Indeed Voltaire put about the false story that Rousseau had been the ambassador’s valet, not hissecretary. For evidence of Rousseau’s duties at the Embassy, see R.A. Leigh, ed., Correspondancecomplète de Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Geneva, 1965, as quoted in Maurice Cranston, trans., Rousseau; TheSocial Contract, 1968. p. 9
1.D.3-music scene from his opera Le Devin du Village
1.D.3-musicRousseau continued his interest in music. He wrote both the words and music ofhis opera Le Devin du Village (The Village Soothsayer), which was performedfor King Louis XV in 1752. The king was so pleased by the work that he offeredRousseau a lifelong pension. To the exasperation of his friends, Rousseauturned down the great honor, bringing him notoriety as "the man who hadrefused a kings pension." The opera remained popular and was performed atthe wedding of the Dauphin and Marie Antoinette.He also turned down several other advantageous offers, sometimes with abrusqueness bordering on truculence that gave offense and caused himproblems. Ibid.
II. Writing A. Dijon competition, 1749 1. road to Vincennes jail 2. Discours sur les sciences et les arts, 1750 3. notoriety B. dropping out C. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, 1755 1. natural 2. moral (political & social) 3. “the last term of inequality” D. Discourse on Political Economy, 1755 1. political equality and respect for Volonte General 2. universal public education 3. egalitarian fiscal policy E. Montmorency, 1756-62 1. romance and Nouvelle Heloise, 1761 2. Emile :Ou de l’education, 1762 a. “follow nature” b. progressive dogmas
II.A. Dijon Competition, 1749-1.road to Vincennes jail Every reader of the Confessions must remember the story Rousseau tells of his walk to Vincennes to visit Diderot when he was imprisoned there, and his discovering on the way an advertisement for a prize essay at Dijon on the subject of how the revival of the arts and sciences had improved men’s morals, and his realization in a blinding ﬂash, that such progress had in fact corrupted morals. Hardly able to breathe, let alone walk, he tells us, he sat down under a tree and wept. Cranston, Inequality, p. 24
II.A.2he “wrote Discourse in response to anadvertisement that appeared in a 1749 issue ofMercure de France, which offered a prize for anessay responding to the question: "Has therestoration of the sciences and the artscontributed to reﬁning moral character?"“nature made man happy and good, but…society depraves him and makes himmiserable ...vice and error, foreign to hisconstitution, enter it from outside andinsensibly change him."Rousseau "authored a scathing attack onscientiﬁc progress...an attack whose principleshe never disavowed."--JJS Black in WikiRousseau anticipated that his response wouldcause "a universal outcry against me", but heldthat "a few sensible men" would appreciate hisposition
II. A. 3. notoriety Rousseaus argument was controversial, and drew a great number of responses. One from critic Jules Lemaître calling the instant deiﬁcation of Rousseau as one of the strongest proofs of human stupidity. Rousseau himself answered ﬁve of his critics in the two years or so after he won the prize. Among these ﬁve answers were replies to Stanisław Leszczyński, King of Poland, M. lAbbe Raynal, and the "Last Reply" to M. Charles Bordes. These responses provide clariﬁcation for Rousseaus argument in the Discourse, and begin to develop a theme he further advances in the Discourse on Inequality – that misuse of the arts and sciences is one case of a larger theme, that man, by nature good, is corrupted by civilization. Inequality, luxury, and the political life are identiﬁed as especially harmful. Wikipedia, “Discourse on the Arts and Sciences”
II. B. dropping out (underlying causes) What [had] made the Comte de Montaigue’s attitude [in Venice in 1743]the more unbearable to Rousseau was not only the injustice, but also the underlying reality: Jean-Jacques was a servant, and he had never been anything much better. He had the soul and the mind, as the whole world was soon to recognize, of an exceptional and superior being, but his rank and condition were humble. __________ Cranston, Social Contract. p. 9 He also had a urinary disease which afﬂicted him increasingly during this time and required him to wear a catheter.* This could not help but increase his discomfort in social settings--jbp *op. cit., p. 23
II. B. dropping out (rejection of the social conventions) Rousseau entered midlife at this time and despite the widespread recognition which his prize gave him, he began to shun society. This is when he refuses to dress up, go to Versailles, and receive the annuity which Louis xv offered as a reward for his opera. He enjoyed the fame among the upper classes and the appreciation of many of them. But he resented the fact that his birth and condition kept him as an outsider. “...he was painfully ill at ease in the salons, in social gatherings that were governed by intricate rules of behavior….he began to live what he spoke of as a ‘life of solitude’.”* Still, his friend, Diderot commissioned him to write 344 articles for his Encyclopédie at this time. But ﬁrst, he would pour out his frustration over social inequality.--jbp _______________________ * Cranston, Inequality. p. 18
II. B. dropping out (the Encyclopedists) The Encyclopaedists were immensely inﬂuenced by Bacon [Sir Francis Bacon, 1561-1626]--they spoke a lot about Locke, but Bacon was really their hero; and although Montesquieu continued to uphold Locke’s kind of politics, the other Encyclopaedists were drawn ever closer to Bacon with his radical scheme to wipe away religion and traditional philosophy and replace it with the role of science and technology aimed at improving the life of man on earth. Science was to be the salvation of mankind. Bacon’s personal project was to make James I a king who would use his absolute powers to govern scientiﬁcally as Bacon advised him to govern; and this was the package which Voltaire, Holbach and La Rivière tried to sell such monarchs as Frederick II of Prussia and Catherine the Great of Russia. [ la despotisme éclairé (Enlightened Despotism)]* _______________________ *Ibid. p. 18
II. C * * The matter ought to be considered as it is according to its nature, not as it is in its present depravity. ARISTOT.. Politic. I, 2
II. CDiscourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (Discourssur lorigine et les fondements de linégalité parmi les hommes), alsocommonly known as the "Second Discourse". The text was written in1754 in response to another prize competition of the Academy ofDijon answering the prompt: What is the origin of inequality amongmen, and is it authorized by natural law? Though he was notrecognized by the prize committee for this piece (as he had been forthe Discourse on the Arts and Sciences) he nevertheless publishedthe text in 1755. Wikipedia
II.C.1-3 1. there were two sorts of inequality. The ﬁrst, “natural," such as height, strength &c. This type of inequality was relatively unimportant 2.the second type, “moral,” that is, political and social, is endemic to society and causes differences in power and wealth. Society is a trick perpetrated by the powerful on the weak in order to maintain their power and wealth
II. C. “The ﬁrst man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or ﬁlling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, p. 109
II. C. a cynicism about “mankind in general” as profound as Machiavelli’s “Finally, a devouring ambition, the burning passion to enlarge one’s fortune, not so much from real need as to put oneself ahead of others, inspires in all men a dark propensity to injure one another, a secret jealousy which is all the more dangerous in that it often assumes the mask of benevolence in order to do its deeds in greater safety; in a word, there is competition and rivalry on the one hand, conﬂicts of interest on the other, and always the hidden desire to gain an advantage at the expense of other people. All these evils are the main effects of property and the inseparable consequences of nascent inequality.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, p. 119
II.C.1-3 1. there were two sorts of inequality. The ﬁrst, natural," such as height, strength &c. was relatively unimportant 2.the second, “moral,” that is, political and social, is endemic to society and causes differences in power and wealth. Society is a trick perpetrated by the powerful on the weak in order to maintain their power and wealth 3.he concludes that “the last term [in a series of historical developments] of inequality is despotism”
II. C. 3 “...despotism….This is the last stage of inequality, and the extreme term which closes the circle and meets the point from which we started. It is here that all individuals become equal again because they are nothing, here where subjects have no longer any law but the will of the master….Here everything is restored to the sole law of the strongest….The insurrection which ends with the strangling or dethronement of a sultan is just as lawful an act as those by which he disposed the day before of the lives and property of his subjects. Force alone maintained him; force alone overthrows him…..” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, pp. 134-35
II. D. Discourse on Political Economy, 1755 Rousseau begins this article for Diderot’s Encyclopedia with a description of the state as a mechanical man, just as Hobbes did in his introduction to Leviathan. jbp
II. D. Discourse on Political Economy, 1755 Rousseau begins this article for Diderot’s Encyclopedia with a description of the state as a mechanical man, just as Hobbes did in his introduction to Leviathan. jbp
II. D. a.-political equality and respect for the Volonte Géneral 1. As might be expected from his critical writing on inequality, this article emphasized the need for political equality. In addition to advocating universal manhood suffrage, he makes ﬁrst mention of his concept of the General Will. jbp
II. D. 1 “The body politic, therefore, is also a moral being possessed of a will; and this general will, which tends always to the preservation and welfare of the whole and of every part, and is the source of the laws, constitutes for all the members of the State, in their relations to one another and to it, the rule of what is just or unjust...” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Political Economy
II. D. Discourse on Political Economy, 1755 1. As might be expected from his critical writing on inequality, this article for the Encyclopédie emphasized the need for political equality. In addition to advocating universal manhood suffrage, he makes ﬁrst mention of his concept of the General Will. 2. He is also an early advocate of free universal public education. jbp
II. D. 2T form citizens is not the work of a day; and in order to have men it is onecessary to educate them when they are children….It is too late to changeour natural inclinations, when they have taken their course, and egoism isconﬁrmed by habit: it is too late to lead us out of ourselves when once thehuman Ego, concentrated in our hearts, has acquired that contemptibleactivity which absorbs all virtue and constitutes the life and being of littleminds….Government ought the less indiscriminately to abandon to theintelligence and prejudices of fathers the education of their children, as thateducation is of still greater importance to the State than to thefathers….Public education, therefore, under regulations prescribed by thegovernment...is one of the fundamental rules of popular or legitimategovernment. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Political Economy
II. D. Discourse on Political Economy, 1755 1. As might be expected from his critical writing on inequality, this article for the Encyclopédie emphasized the need for political equality. In addition to advocating universal manhood suffrage, he makes ﬁrst mention of his concept of the General Will. 2. He is also an early advocate of free universal public education. 3. Finally, he argues that the tax structure needed to advance a more equal distribution of wealth instead of the present regressive system. jbp
II. D. 3 III. It is not enough to have citizens and to protect them, it is also necessary to consider their subsistence. Provision for the public wants is an obvious inference from the general will, and the third essential duty of government. This duty is not...to ﬁll the granaries of individuals and thereby to grant them a dispensation from labour, but to keep plenty so within their reach that labour is always necessary and never useless for its acquisition. It extends also to everything regarding...the expenses of public administration. It should be remembered that the foundation of the social compact is property; and its ﬁrst condition, that every one should be maintained in the peaceful possession of what belongs to him. It is true that, by the same treaty, every one binds himself...to be assessed toward the public wants:... it is plain that such assessment...must be voluntary; it must depend, not indeed on a particular will, as if it were necessary to have the consent of each individual,...but on a general will, decided by vote of a majority, and on the basis of a proportional rating which leaves nothing arbitrary in the imposition of the tax. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Political Economy
a cosy retreat--L’Hermitagein the vale of Montmorency, now a Parisian suburb 15 km
a cosy retreat--L’Hermitagein the vale of Montmorency, now a Parisian suburb his hostess Mme d’Épinay
II.E.Montmorency, 1756-621761-romance and Nouvelle Heloise
II.E.Montmorency, 1756-62 Sophie d’Houdetot (27) & J-JR (45) she was his inspiration and anything more??1761-romance and Nouvelle Heloise The original title of The New Heloise, a European best-selling “bodice ripper”
II.E.Montmorency, 1756-621761-romance and Nouvelle Heloise1762-Émile; Ou de l’Éducation “follow nature” progressive dogmas
blowupHe resented being at Mme dÉpinays beck and call anddetested the insincere conversation and shallowatheism of the Encyclopédistes whom he met at her table.Wounded feelings gave rise to a bitter three-wayquarrel between Rousseau and Madame dÉpinay; herlover, the philologist Grimm; and their mutual friend,Diderot, who took their side against Rousseau. Diderotlater described Rousseau as being, "false, vain asSatan, ungrateful, cruel, hypocritical, and wicked ... Hesucked ideas from me, used them himself, and thenaffected to despise me".
II. Writing A. Dijon competition, 1749 B. dropping out C. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, 1755 D. Discourse on Political Economy, 1755 E. Montmorency, 1756-62 F. later life 1. proscriptions, exiles, and paranoia a. Switzerland b. England c. France 1. Confessions, 1770 2. peace at last, 1776-78
II.F.-later life; 1762-1778Rousseau spoke of "the cry of unparalleled fury" that went up across Europe. "I was an inﬁdel, an atheist,a lunatic, a madman, a wild beast, a wolf ..."
II.F.-later life; 1762-1778Rousseau spoke of "the cry of unparalleled fury" that went up across Europe. "I was an inﬁdel, an atheist,a lunatic, a madman, a wild beast, a wolf ..."after the bombshell of The Social Contract proscriptions, exiles & paranoia Geneva, Bern, Paris, England, return to France under an assumed name 1765-David Hume “You don’t know your man. I will tell you plainly, you are nursing a viper in your bosom-Baron d’Holbach “This lover of mankind who orphans his own children-Voltaire1770-Confessions, forbidden to publish, he gave private readings--Mme d’Épinay enjoined publication until 17821776-78-peace at last Ermenonville-a place of pilgrimage for his disciples
II.F.-later life; 1762-1778after the bombshell of The SocialContract proscriptions, exiles & paranoia 1765-David Hume “You don’t know your man. I will tell you plainly, you are nursing a viper in your bosom-Baron d’Holbach “This lover of mankind who orphans his own children-Voltaire1770-Confessions, forbidden topublish, he gave privatereadings--Mme d’Épinay enjoinedpublication until 17821776-78-peace at last painting by Hubert Robert, 1780 Ermenonville-a place of he also landscaped the park & designed the cenotaph pilgrimage for his disciples
The Parc de Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the garden of René Louis de Girardin, “Rousseau’s last pupil,” his host at Ermenonville
Joseph II Gustav III Paul I Franklin JeffersonThe tomb and the garden became a destination of pilgrimagefor admirers of Rousseau, including Joseph II of Austria,King Gustav III of Sweden, the future Czar Paul I of Russia,Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Danton, Robespierre,Chateaubriand, Queen Marie Antoinette and NapoleonBonaparte. Danton Robespierre Chateaubriand Antoinette Bonaparte
for Rousseau, immortal glory; 1794Sixteen years after his death, his remains were moved to the Panthéon in Paris in 1794, wherethey are located directly across from those of his friend-turned-enemy, Voltaire. His tomb,in the shape of a rustic temple, on which, in bas relief an arm reaches out, bearing the torchof liberty, evokes Rousseaus deep love of nature and of classical antiquity.
The Social Contract is, as Rousseau explains in his preface, a fragmentof something much more ambitious -- a comprehensive work onInstitutions politiques which he began to write in 1743 [during hisdisastrous time in Venice, “his ﬁrst intimate acquaintance with politicsand government”], but never ﬁnished. Maurice Cranston, trans.,Rousseau; The Social Contract, 1968. p. 9
Bk I Chapter I Subject of the First Book First Paragraph “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains “One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they “How did this change come about? “I do not know “What can make it legitimate? “That question I think I can answer.”
III. Du contrat social, 1762; bks., IV, pp. 52 (Great Books ed.) A. Bk. I. “any sure and legitimate rule of administration”? 1. “men as they are and laws as they might be” 2. force and right 3. the “first convention” a. one or two contracts? CAUTION (III, 16) 4. key problem 5. who is the sovereign? a. fundamental law? b. “forced to be free” B. Bk. II. “important deduction [s]” 1. representative democracy? 2. three types of will a. particular will b. general will (Volonté Général) c will of all 3. role of association
III.A.1-3 After this brilliant opening paragraph, Rousseau develops his solution to the problem of tyranny promising to describe “men as they are and laws as they might be.” In Chapter III he rejects the notion of “the right of the strongest” by contrasting the terms “force” and “right.” In Bk. I, Chap. 5, THAT WE MUST ALWAYS GO BACK TO A FIRST CONVENTION, Rousseau seems to be following Locke in having a two-stage compact; ﬁrst forming “a people,” then establishing a political compact. But in Bk. III, Chap. 16,THAT THE INSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT IS NOT A CONTRACT, he asserts,”There is only one contract in the state: that of the association itself. jbp
III.A.4-key problem BOOK I CHAPTER VI THE SOCIAL COMPACT The problem is to ﬁnd a form of association which will defend andprotect with the whole common force the person and goods of eachassociate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obeyhimself alone, and remain as free as before. This is the fundamentalproblem of which the Social Contract provides the solution… These clauses, properly understood, may be reduced to one--thetotal alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to thewhole community; for in the ﬁrst place, as each gives himself absolutely,the conditions are the same for all; and, this being so, no one has anyinterest in making them burdensome to others...
III.A.5.Finally, each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody; and asthere is no associate over which he does not acquire the same right ashe yields others over himself, he gains an equivalent for everything heloses, and an increase of force for the preservation of what he has.If then we discard from the social contract what is not of its essence, weshall ﬁnd that it reduces itself to the following terms: Each of us puts his person and a! his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party,this act of association creates a moral and collective body….
III.A.5. b-”...forced to be free….”In order then that the social contract may not be a empty formula,it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force tothe rest, that whosoever refuses to obey the general will shall becompelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing lessthan that he will be forced to be free [emphasis added]….obedience to a law which we prescribe to ourselves is liberty.
III.B.1-representative democracy? BOOK II CHAPTER I THAT SOVEREIGNTY IS UNALIENABLE The ﬁrst and most important deduction from the principles we have so far laid down is that the general will alone can direct the State according to the object for which it was instituted, i.e., the common good: for if the clashing of particular interests make the establishment of societies necessary, the agreement of these very interests made it possible…. I hold then that Sovereignty, being nothing less than the exercise of the general will, can never be alienated, and that the Sovereign, who is no less that a collective being, cannot be represented except by himself : the power indeed may be transmitted, but not the will. apparently not
III.B.2-three types of will BOOK II CHAPTER III WHETHER THE GENERAL WILL IS FALLIBLE It follows from what has gone before that the general will is always right and tends to the public advantage; but it does not follow that the deliberations of the people are always equally correct. Our will is always for our own good; but we do not always see what that is; the people is never corrupted, but it is often deceived, and on such occasions only does it seem to will what is bad. There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will; the latter considers only the common interest, while the former takes private interest into account, and is no more than the sum of the particular wills; but take away from these same wills the plusses and minuses that cancel one another, and the general will remains as the sum of the differences.
Now what can this mean?III.B.2.a. the particular will=the will of each individualIII.B.2.b. the general will=”the sum of the differences” when one takesaway “the plusses and minuses” of the particular wills “that cancel oneanother”--whatever that could mean in real life!!! And we are assured thatthe general will “is always right and tends to the public advantage”III.B.2.c. the will of all=something that “takes private interest intoaccount” and, if it is the product of what he has called “the deliberationsof the people,” it is fallible, unlike the general willSince these concepts are crucial to his argument, we are entitled tobe worried about what seems to be mystification or fuzzy thinkinghere!
III.B.3-the role of associations BOOK II CHAPTER III WHETHER THE GENERAL WILL IS FALLIBLE (cont. from the same spot) If when the people, being furnished with adequate information, held its deliberations, had no communication one with another, the grand total of the small differences would always give the general will, and the decision would always be good. But when factions arise, and partial associations are formed at the expense of the great association, the will of each of these associations becomes general in relation to its members, while it remains particular in relation to the State : it may then be said that there are no longer as many votes as there are men, but only as many as there are associations. The differences become less numerous and give a less general result. Lastly, when one of these (cont.)
III.B.3-the role of associations BOOK II CHAPTER III WHETHER THE GENERAL WILL IS FALLIBLE (cont. from the same spot) and give a less general result. Lastly, when one of these (cont.) associations is so great as to prevail over all the rest, the result is no longer a sum of small differences, but a single difference; in this case there is no longer a general will, and the opinion which prevails is purely particular. It is there fore essential, if the general will is to be able to express itself, that there should be no partial society within the State, and that each citizen should think only his own thoughts: which was indeed the sublime and unique system established by the great Lycurgus [of Sparta]. But if there are partial societies, it is best to have as many as possible and to prevent them from being unequal as was done by Solon….These precautions are the only ones that can guarantee that the general will shall always be enlightened, and that the people shall in no way deceive itself….
III. Du contrat social, 1762; bks., IV, pp. 52 (Great Books ed.) A. Bk. I. “any sure and legitimate rule of administration”? B. Bk. II “important deduction [s]” C. Bk III “different forms” 1. force and will in the body politic a. what is government? 2. historical and geographic factors a. Projet de constitution pour la Corse, 1765 b. Considerations sur le gouvernement de la Pologne, 1770 (?) 3. tendency to degenerate a. civic virtue and deputies D. Bk IV the ultimate foundation of authority 1. voting 2. historical discussion on Rome 3. civil religion
III.C.1-force and will in the body politic BOOK III CHAPTER I GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL I warn the reader that this chapter requires careful reading, and that I am unable to make myself clear to those who refuse to be attentive. Every free action is produced by the concurrence of two causes: one moral, i.e. the will which determines the act; the other physical, i.e. the power which executes it. I walk towards an object, it is necessary ﬁrst that I should will to go there, and, in the second place, that my feet should carry me. If a paralytic wills to run and an active man wills not to, they will both stay where they are. The body politic has the same motive powers; here too force and will are distinguished, will under the name of legislative power, and force under that of executive power. Without their concurrence, nothing is, or should be, done. (continued)
III.C.1-force and will in the body politic BOOK III CHAPTER I GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL concurrence, nothing is, or should be, done. (continued) We have seen that the legislative power belongs to the people, and can belong to it alone. It may on the other hand, readily be seen, from the principles laid down above, that the executive power cannot belong to the generality as the legislature or Sovereign, whose acts must always be laws. The public force therefore needs an agent of its own to bind it together and set it to work under the direction of the general will, to serve as a means of communication between the State and the Sovereign, and to do for the collective person more or less what the union of soul and body does for men. Here we have what is, in the State, the basis of government, often wrongly confused with the Sovereign, whose minister it is. (continued)
III.C.1-force and will in the body politic a. what is government? BOOK III CHAPTER I GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL it is. (continued) What then is government? An intermediate body set up between the subjects and the Sovereign, to secure their mutual correspondence, charged with the execution of the laws and the maintenance of liberty, both civil and political. The members of this body are called magistrates or kings, that is to say governors, and the whole body bears the name of prince. Thus those that hold that the act, by which a people puts itself under a prince, is not a contract, are certainly right. It is simply and solely a commission, an employment, in which the rulers, mere ofﬁcials of the Sovereign, exercise in their own name the power of which it makes them depositaries. This power it can limit, modify, or recover at pleasure; for the alienation of such a right is incompatible with the nature of the social body, and contrary to the end of association. (continued)
III.C.1-force and will in the body politic a. what is government? BOOK III CHAPTER I GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL contrary to the end of association. (continued) I call then government, or supreme administration, the legitimate exercise of the executive power, and prince or magistrate the man or body entrusted with that administration. In government reside the intermediate forces whose relations make up that of the whole to the whole or of the Sovereign to the State. This last relation may be represented as that between the extreme terms of a continuous proportion, which has government as its mean proportional.
Diagram of this mathematical analogy Sovereign Government (all the people) = Government State or (all the people)Sovereign State : Government :: Government : (all the people) (all the people) Whatever this might mean!!!
III.C.1-force and will in the body politic a. what is government? continuous proportion, which has government as its mean proportional. The government gets from the Sovereign the orders it gives the people, and, for the State to be properly balanced, there must, when everything is reckoned in, be equality between the product or power of the government taken in itself, and the product or power of the citizens, who are on the one hand sovereign and on the other subject. Furthermore, none of these three terms can be altered without the equality being instantly destroyed. If the Sovereign desires to govern, or the magistrate to give laws, or if the subjects refuse to obey, disorder takes the place of regularity, force and will no longer act together, and the State is dissolved and falls into despotism or anarchy. Lastly, as there is also only one mean proportional between each relation, there is also only one good government possible for a State. But, as countless events may change the relations of a people, not only may different governments be good for different people, but also for the same people at different times….
III.C.2-historical & geographic factors a. Projet de constitution pour la Corse, 1765 b. Considerations sur le gouvernement de la Pologne, 1770 (?) In 1762, as a political philosopher, Rousseau wrote the sentence above, that “different governments may be good for different people.” In the next decade, as a political scientist, he would try his hand at this very task. Clearly inﬂuenced by Montesquieu’s geographic approach, Rousseau responded to requests from these two countries, Corsica and Poland. Both were tottering on the brink of conquest and the extinction of self-government; Corsica by France, Poland by Prussia, Russia, and Austria. These attempts to apply the ideas of the Social Contract to real life situations shed an interesting light on Rousseau’s thinking, often at odds with his more idealistic musings in 1762.
III.C.3-tendency to degenerate A constant theme in his thought, beginning with the ﬁrst discourse in 1749, was how civilization tended to corrupt man’s natural goodness.--jbp BOOK III CHAPTER X THE ABUSE OF GOVERNMENT AND ITS TENDENCY TO DEGENERATE As the particular will acts constantly in opposition to the general will, the government continually exerts itself against the Sovereignty. The greater this exertion becomes, the more the constitution changes; and as there is in this case no other corporate will to create an equibrilum by resisting the will of the prince, sooner or later the prince must inevitably suppress the Sovereign and break the social treaty. This is the unavoidable and inherent defect which, from the very birth of the body politic, tends to destroy it, as age and death end by destroying the human body….
III.C.3-tendency to degenerate a. civic virtue and deputies When citizens replace civic virtue with greed for a comfortable life, they hire deputies to govern for them--jbp BOOK III CHAPTER XV DEPUTIES OR REPRESENTATIVES As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall. When it is necessary to march out to war, they pay troops and stay at home: when it is necessary to meet in council, they name deputies and stay at home. By reason of idleness and money, they end by having soldiers to enslave their country and representatives to sell it. (continued)
III.C.3-tendency to degenerate a. civic virtue and deputies BOOK III CHAPTER XV DEPUTIES OR REPRESENTATIVES and representatives to sell it. (continued) It is through the hustle of commerce and the arts, through the greedy self-interest of proﬁt, and through softness and love of amenities that personal services are replaced by money payments. Men surrender a part of their proﬁts in order to have time to increase them at leisure. Make gifts of money, and you will not be long without chains…. ….In a well-ordered city every man ﬂies to the assemblies: under a bad government no one cares to stir a step to get to them, because no one is interested in what happens there, because it is foreseen that the general will will not prevail, and lastly because domestic cares are all-absorbing…. As soon as any man says of the affairs of the State What does it matter to me? the State may be given up for lost….
III.D.-the ultimate foundation of authority 1. voting 2. historical discussion on Rome 3. civil religion In Chapter I of this ﬁnal book Rousseau’s idealization of Swiss public assemblies is clearly observable. “When we see among the happiest people in the world bands of peasants regulating the affairs of state under an oak tree, and always acting wisely, can we help feeling a certain contempt for the reﬁnements of other nations, which employ so much skill and mystery to make themselves at once illustrious and wretched?” In Chapters 2 & 3 he attempts to relate voting to the discovery of the general will. In Chapters 4-7 he reviews the political history of Rome and its pursuit of the general will. In Chapter 8, “The Civil Religion,” he reviews the history of religious strife and offers a vision of a unifying patriotic faith which would bind men to their civic duty towards the State.
III.D.3-civil religion BOOK IV CHAPTER VIII THE CIVIL RELIGION ...But I err in speaking of a Christian republic; for each of these terms contradicts the other. Christianity preaches only servitude and submission. In spirit it is too favorable to tyranny for tyranny not to take advantage of it. True Christians are made to be slaves; they know it and they hardly care; this short life has too little value in their lives…. There is thus a profession of faith which is purely civil and of which it is the sovereign’s function to determine the articles, not strictly as religious dogmas, but as sentiments of sociability, without which it is impossible to be either a good citizen or a loyal subject.... The dogmas of the civil religion must be simple and few in number, expressed precisely and without explanations or commentaries. (cont.)
III.D.3-civil religion BOOK IV CHAPTER VIII THE CIVIL RELIGION expressed precisely and without explanations or commentaries. (cont.) The existence of an omnipotent, intelligent, benevolent divinity that foresees and provides; the life to come; the happiness of the just; the punishment of sinners; the sanctity of the social contract and the law --- these are the positive dogmas. As for the negative dogmas, I would limit them to a single one: no intolerance. Intolerance is something which belongs to the religions we have rejected.
VOLTAIRE BENJAMIN CONSTANT JOHN CRAWFURD CHARLES MAURRAS 1694-1778 1767-1830 1783-1868 1868-1952 CriticismSIR KARL POPPER HANNAH ARENDT ROBERT PALMER MAURICE CRANSTON 1902-1994 1906-1975 1909-2002 1920-1993
IV. Criticism A. Historical Critics 1. 18th century 2. 19th century 3. 20th century B. Criticism from Justice & Power, 1977 1. Robespierre and post hoc ergo propter hoc 2. argumentum ad hominem 3. Sparta and civic virtue 4. totalitarian democracy?
Although Rousseau was wildly popular during his lifetime and especially after his death and during the Revolution, criticism dogged him beginning with those who had begun as his friends.The ﬁrst to criticize Rousseau were his fellow Philosophes, above all, Voltaire. According to JacquesBarzun: Voltaire, who had felt annoyed by the ﬁrst essay [On the Arts and Sciences], was outraged by the second, [Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Among Men], declaring that Rousseau wanted us to “walk on all fours” like animals and behave like savages, believing them creatures of perfection. From these interpretations, plausible but inexact, spring the clichés Noble Savage and Back to Nature. WikipediaAfter receiving the Second Discourse he wrote, “I have received, Monsieur,your new book against the human race, and I thank you.” After the famouspassage about the ﬁrst man to enclose property, he wrote “Behold thephilosophy of a beggar who would have the rich robbed by the poor.” Of hisforty-one marginal notes, forty are critical.--quotes in Cranston, Inequality jbp
Following the French Revolution, other commentatorsﬁngered a potential danger of Rousseau’s project ofrealizing an “antique” conception of virtue amongst thecitizenry in a modern world (e.g. through education,physical exercise, a citizen militia, public holidays, andthe like). Taken too far, as under the Jacobins, suchsocial engineering could result in tyranny.As early as 1819, in his famous speech “On Ancient and Modern Liberty,” thepolitical philosopher Benjamin Constant, a proponent of constitutionalmonarchy and representative democracy, criticized Rousseau, or rather hismore radical followers (speciﬁcally the Abbé de Mably), for allegedly believingthat "everything should give way to collective will, and that all restrictions onindividual rights would be amply compensated by participation in social power.” Wikipedia
Common also were attacks by defenders of social hierarchy on Rousseaus "romantic"belief in equality. In 1860, shortly after the Sepoy Rebellion in India, two British whitesupremacists, John Crawfurd and James Hunt, mounted a defense of British imperialismbased on “scientiﬁc racism". Crawfurd, in alliance with Hunt, took over the presidency ofthe British Anthropological Society, which had been founded with the mission to defendindigenous peoples against slavery and colonial exploitation. Invoking "science" and"realism", the two men derided their "philanthropic" predecessors for believing in humanequality and for not recognizing that mankind was divided into superior and inferiorraces. Crawfurd, who opposed Darwinian evolution, "denied any unity to mankind,insisting on immutable, hereditary, and timeless differences in racial character, principalamongst which was the very great difference in intellectual capacity." For Crawfurd, theraces had been created separately and were different species. Since Crawfurd wasScottish, he thought the Scottish "race" superior and all others inferior; whilst Hunt, onthe other hand, believed in the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon "race". Crawfurd and Huntroutinely accused those who disagreed with them of believing in "Rousseau’s NobleSavage". (The pair ultimately quarreled because Hunt believed in slavery and Crawfurddid not). "As Ter Ellingson demonstrates, Crawfurd was responsible for re-introducing thePre-Rousseauian concept of the Noble Savage to modern anthropology, attributing itwrongly and quite deliberately to Rousseau.” Wikipedia
Common also were attacks by defenders of social hierarchy on Rousseaus "romantic" belief in equality. In1860, shortly after the Sepoy Rebellion in India, two British white supremacists, John Crawfurd and JamesHunt, mounted a defense of British imperialism based on “scientiﬁc racism". Crawfurd, in alliance with Hunt,took over the presidency of the British Anthropological Society, which had been founded with the mission todefend indigenous peoples against slavery and colonial exploitation. Invoking "science" and "realism", the twomen derided their "philanthropic" predecessors for believing in human equality and for not recognizing thatmankind was divided into superior and inferior races. Crawfurd, who opposed Darwinian evolution, "deniedany unity to mankind, insisting on immutable, hereditary, and timeless differences in racial character, principalamongst which was the very great difference in intellectual capacity." For Crawfurd, the races had beencreated separately and were different species. Since Crawfurd was Scottish, he thought the Scottish "race"superior and all others inferior; whilst Hunt, on the other hand, believed in the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon"race". Crawfurd and Hunt routinely accused those who disagreed with them of believing in "Rousseau’sNoble Savage". (The pair ultimately quarreled because Hunt believed in slavery and Crawfurd did not). "AsTer Ellingson demonstrates, Crawfurd was responsible for re-introducing the Pre-Rousseauian concept of theNoble Savage to modern anthropology, attributing it wrongly and quite deliberately to Rousseau.”
Karl Popper was the modern critic whom we met last fall asa critic of Plato. He also lists Rousseau as an Enemy of theOpen Society. Popper sees the General Will as aforeshadowing of twentieth century totalitarianism. Heequates Robespierre’s version of Rousseau with Lenin’sversion of Marx and Hitler’s version of his own twistedideas in Mein Kampf.
During the Cold War, Karl Popper criticized Rousseau for hisassociation with nationalism and its attendant abuses. This came tobe known among scholars as the "totalitarian thesis". An example isJ. L. Talmons, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (1952). Politicalscientist J. S. Maloy states that “the twentieth century addedNazism and Stalinism to Jacobinism on the list of horrors for whichRousseau could be blamed. ... Rousseau was considered to haveadvocated just the sort of invasive tampering with human naturewhich the totalitarian regimes of mid-century had tried toinstantiate." But Maloy adds that "The totalitarian thesis inRousseau studies has, by now, been discredited as an attribution ofreal historical inﬂuence.” Wikipedia
In 1919 Irving Babbitt, founder of a movement called the"New Humanism", wrote a critique of what he called"sentimental humanitarianism", for which he blamedRousseau. Babbitts depiction of Rousseau was counteredin a celebrated and much reprinted essay by A. O. Lovejoyin 1923. In France, fascist theorist and anti-Semite CharlesMaurras, founder of Action Française, “had nocompunctions in laying the blame for both Romantisme etRévolution ﬁrmly on Rousseau in 1922." Wikipedia
In 1919 Irving Babbitt, founder of a movement called the "New Humanism", wrotea critique of what he called "sentimental humanitarianism", for which he blamedRousseau. Babbitts depiction of Rousseau was countered in a celebrated andmuch reprinted essay by A. O. Lovejoy in 1923. In France, fascist theorist andanti-Semite Charles Maurras, founder of Action Française, “had nocompunctions in laying the blame for both Romantisme et Révolution ﬁrmly onRousseau in 1922." Wikipedia
On similar grounds, one of Rousseaus strongest criticsduring the second half of the 20th century was politicalphilosopher Hannah Arendt. Using Rousseaus thought asan example, Arendt identiﬁed the notion of sovereignty withthat of the general will. According to her, it was this desireto establish a single, uniﬁed will based on the stiﬂing ofopinion in favor of public passion that contributed to theexcesses of the French Revolution. Wikipedia
On similar grounds, one of Rousseaus strongest critics during the second halfof the 20th century was political philosopher Hannah Arendt. UsingRousseaus thought as an example, Arendt identiﬁed the notion of sovereigntywith that of the general will. According to her, it was this desire to establish asingle, uniﬁed will based on the stiﬂing of opinion in favor of public passion thatcontributed to the excesses of the French Revolution.
And what, in summary, was likely in his book to appeal to men in a moodof rebellion…? First of all, the theory of the political community, of thepeople, or nation, was revolutionary in implication: it posited acommunity based on the will of the living, and the active sense ofmembership…, rather than on history, or kinship, or race, or pastconquest…. It denied sovereign powers to kings, to oligarchs, and to allgovernments. It said that any form of government could be changed. Itheld all public oﬃcers to be removable. It held that law could draw itsforce and its legality only from the community itself…. Not onlymonarchs, but also the constituted bodies…, would be justiﬁed inbelieving that the Social Contract sapped their foundations. R. R. Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution. vol. 1, pp. 126-127
In less than a hundred pages, Rousseau outlined a theory of evolution ofthe human race which preﬁgured the discoveries of Darwin; herevolutionized the study of anthropology and linguistics, and he made aseminal contribution to political and social thought….it altered people’sways of thinking about themselves and their world; it even changed theirways of feeling. Of all his writings, Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality...hasperhaps been the most inﬂuential. The books of his later years...are more‘substantial’, but it is as the author of the second Discourse thatRousseau has both been held responsible for the French Revolution andacclaimed as the founder of modern social science. Maurice Cranston, Rousseau; A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, 1984. p. 29
IV. Criticism A. Historical Critics B. Criticism from Justice & Power, 1977 1. Robespierre and post hoc ergo propter hoc 2. argumentum ad hominem 3. Sparta and civic virtue 4. totalitarian democracy?
So what do we conclude? Herald of the DemocraticRevolution in France? Dangerous romantic nationalist?A great deal of one’s reaction to Rousseau is bound up inone’s reaction to the French Revolution. Both have theiradmirable and not so admirable aspects.Much of our reaction is inﬂuenced by the wars of theRevolution and its successor Napoleon.A conservative voice warned of the bloodbath to come asearly as 1790. But that’s another story…First, we’ll look back next week at our democraticrevolution.