After the republic : an analysis of the duality of 'man' in Rousseau

Wilcock, Neil (2015) After the republic : an analysis of the duality of 'man' in Rousseau. MPhil thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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In his Second Discourse Rousseau's analysis of the state of man is damning. We have been led astray by our inflamed amour-propre and exist as corrupted and denatured people within a coercive and corrupting social framework. Solutions to this social problem are given by Rousseau in both Emile and the Social Contract. However, the two solutions appear to be in conflict with one another. On the one hand we are told how to create free individuals who exist independently of the state. On the other hand, we appear to be offered a society formed by the alienation of the individual's private identity. This thesis explores whether these two narratives can be reconciled. Through a close reading of the texts and an analysis of competing interpretative theories, I conclude that they can. Developing the recent work of Frederick Neuhouser, which places amour-propre at the centre of Rousseau's political theory, I argue that the most prominent obstacle to accepting Neuhouser's solution to the conflict is his failure to distance himself from the deeply ingrained misogyny of Rousseau's philosophy. To deal with this limitation, I argue, we need to draw out the centrality and importance that Rousseau attaches to education. The solutions provided in Emile and the Social Contract are useful narratives of the changes that we have undergone and what we aim to achieve. The role of these fictions is to serve as models that we can employ in our continual education and reeducation. Rousseau, therefore, provides the tools for a reflexive theory of political philosophy that can most accurately be described as a theory of paideia.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2015 10:28
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47

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