The Free Animal: Rousseau on Free Will and Human Nature by Lee MacLean

By Lee MacLean

Loose will is a key yet contested suggestion within the paintings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: whereas the famed thinker is understood to have asserted that unfastened will distinguishes humans from animals, numerous interpreters have argued that he in simple terms pretends to have this trust for the sake of fit politics and to prevent persecution through spiritual professionals. via cautious readings of key texts and letters, The unfastened Animal deals a brand new and unique exploration of Rousseau’s perspectives on unfastened will.

Lee MacLean exhibits that Rousseau wishes and makes use of the belief of human recognition of unfastened will to provide an explanation for the advance of morality, conference, and vice. MacLean bases her argument on a wide diversity of texts, from canonical works to Rousseau’s untranslated letters and drafts. that includes cautious analyses and an intensive engagement with the secondary literature, The loose Animal bargains a singular interpretation of the altering nature and complexity of Rousseau’s intention.

“The loose Animal presents a cautious examine the query of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s trust in and desire at no cost will. Lee MacLean, who's good conversant in either Rousseau’s texts and the secondary literature on his paintings, demonstrates that Rousseau does take heavily freedom of the need, and that it can be crucial to his method – specifically for his political psychology.”

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Additional info for The Free Animal: Rousseau on Free Will and Human Nature

Sample text

He argues against the voluntary submission of an individual to slavery in order to show that the voluntary subjection of a people to tyranny cannot be rightful. Rousseau assumes that the two questions are related because that is what his opponents have done. Grotius, for example, argues that the existence of voluntary slavery implies that the people can be subject to absolute monarchy: ‘From the Jewish, as well as the Roman law, it appears that anyone might engage himself in private servitude to whom he pleased.

53 However central perfectibility is to Rousseau’s anthropology, he does not for all that simply discard the free will argument. Free will is not totally eclipsed by perfectibility. The free will argument stands behind Rousseau’s perfectibility-based account of man’s development and peeks around the corners. Perfectibility is the scientifically acceptable face of man’s freedom from nature’s command. But what of Rousseau’s contention that man’s road to full humanity is triggered by external circumstances that might never have happened?

That is, the argument in the Discourse only supports the contention that the slave’s freedom of action cannot legitimately be transferred. The new Social Contract argument about the illegitimate interference with the slave’s will through enslavement helps support his contention that the people’s will should not be alienated – a premise that in turn underlies his critique of the representation of the sovereign power as an illegitimate alienation of the people’s will. ‘Power can perfectly well be transferred,’ he writes in the Social Contract, ‘but not will’ (OC 3:368; trans.

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