Rousseau's Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the by Frederick Neuhouser

By Frederick Neuhouser

This ebook is the 1st finished learn of Rousseau's wealthy and complicated conception of the kind of self-love (amour propre ) that, for him, marks the important distinction among people and the beasts. Amour propre is the fervour that drives human members to hunt the esteem, approval, admiration, or love-the attractiveness -of their fellow beings. Neuhouser reconstructs Rousseau's realizing of what the force for acceptance is, why it's so troublesome, and the way its presence opens up far-reaching developmental probabilities for creatures that own it. certainly one of Rousseau's valuable theses is that amour propre in its corrupted, manifestations-pride or vanity-is the crucial resource of an array of evils so frequent that they could simply seem to be priceless good points of the human situation: enslavement, clash, vice, distress, and self-estrangement. but Rousseau additionally argues that fixing those difficulties relies no longer on suppressing or overcoming the force for acceptance yet on cultivating it in order that it contributes absolutely to the fulfillment of freedom, peace, advantage, happiness, and unalienated selfhood. certainly, Rousseau is going as far as to say that, regardless of its many hazards, the necessity for attractiveness is a situation of approximately every little thing that makes human lifestyles priceless and that elevates it above mere animal lifestyles: rationality, morality, freedom-subjectivity itself-would be very unlikely for people if it weren't for amour propre and the kinfolk to others it impels us to establish.


"Exemplary...Neuhouser bargains a unique framing of the problems, makes very important contributions on a couple of debatable issues, and concludes with a daring and unique (if additionally a bit speculative) improvement of Rousseau's tricks that self-love features as a at the risk of rationality." --Wayne M. Martin, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This paintings does an admirable task of clarifying the critical proposal of Rousseau's philosophy, amour-propre, via putting it in the context of a theodicy. it really is arguably the 1st complete remedy of Rousseau's concept of amour-propre, or, the will for acceptance within the eyes of alternative human beings...While Neuhouser's publication could entice philosophers of faith, political theorists, thinkers attracted to psychology, and interpersonal communications, it's going to attract Rousseau students specifically, it's probably the most nauanced and complete reports of Rousseau's concept of amour-propre on hand at the present time. His therapy of the speculation is persuasive, and he remains actual to Rousseau's thought." --Jeff Linz, The Heythrop magazine

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Extra resources for Rousseau's Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition

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It is important to note, however, that a relative standing is not necessarily a superior or inferior one. If what one’s amour-propre leads one to seek is simply the respect one deserves as a human being—respect one is willing to return to others in the same measure—then the standing one seeks is comparative (defined in relation to that of others) but not superior; equal standing, in other words, is still standing relative to others. This feature of amour-propre contrasts with the absolute (non-relative) character of amour de soi.

Distinguishing between two sources of motivation in this way does not imply that a human action can be a manifestation of only one of these forms of self-love at a time. On the contrary, a single action can aim at satisfying both amour de soi and amour-propre, and this is the case for the great majority of ³ Despite what Rousseau suggests here, the aims of amour de soi are not restricted to self-preservation. As N. J. H. Dent rightly points out (89–112), the good that amour de soi inclines humans to seek varies with their self-conceptions; to the extent that one thinks of oneself as more than a physical being, the good one seeks will extend beyond the mere necessities of life.

That amour-propre, though not identical with the need for self-esteem, is intimately bound up with it is made clear at PCC, 154/OC 3, 938. the nature of amour-propre 35 the esteem of others,¹² two preliminary remarks are in order. First, there can be no doubt that developmentally the esteem of others is a necessary condition of self-esteem, and Rousseau fully appreciates this fact. It is more controversial whether in the case of adults, being valued by others is necessary for maintaining self-esteem.

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