The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Joe R. Long Chair in Democractic Studies Speaker Series- Jeffrey Church (Univ of Houston)

Rousseau, the Value of Existence, and the Sacredness of Citizenship

Mon, February 4, 2019 | BAT 5.108

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

 Abstract: In recent years, some scholars have argued that Rousseau’s view of the natural condition is best understood not as whole and happy, but rather dynamic and divided.  This paper builds on this interpretation by arguing that Rousseau’s view of the good life, often characterized as the happiness exemplified by the natural “savage,” should be reconceived.  Instead, the division at the heart of nature gives rise for Rousseau to the question of the value of existence and to the need to live not simply a happy life, but a meaningful or redemptive one.  This interpretation deepens Rousseau’s critique of, and alternative to, liberalism, that his political project at bottom concerns not psychic harmony but rather the value of life.

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