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Gentle Savages and Fierce Citizens against Civilization: Unraveling Rousseau's Paradoxes Author(s): Matthew D.

Mendham Reviewed work(s): Source: American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January 2011), pp. 170-187 Published by: Midwest Political Science Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 23/02/2013 21:38
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Savages and Fierce Citizens Civilization: Unraveling Rousseau's

Matthew D. Mendham Emory University
that moderns are

against Paradoxes



ideologue, wildly opposed and oscillating characterizationsof theseeras,merely to be contrarian?This article forwarding he discusses, attemptstodemonstratea degree ofcoherenceinhis analyses, by focusing on thevarious sociopoliticalcontexts and thevarious moral characterizationsand normswhich apply to each of thesecontexts. Building upon a half-century an innovative logical typology it offers of interpretations, ofRousseau s social thought?in termsof social complexity,
environmental resources, and normative foundation?which may explain many of his central paradoxes.

as cruel, and rusticvirtue.On theotherhand, he depictsmodern life and hardiness,vigor, ferocity, frenzied, competitive, an imaginative IsRousseau, then,simply harsh, inopposition to abundance, and spontaneity. primitivegentleness,idleness,

to argue,

on one



lazy, weak,


soft, in opposition

to primitive

ousseau's many paradoxes and at least apparent contradictions have been noted since the first re to his first significantwork. Here we will JL X^sponses focus upon two clusters of antitheses with significant im plications for the overall tenor of his social thought. On

of commerce?meaning both economic broader social interaction?would make

recent scholarly inquiries into the Enlightenment theory of "doux commerce" According to this theory, the increase exchange and societies more

his reputation as a proto-romanticist or vanguard intel lectual of themodern Left. On the other hand, we find comparable enthusiasm for "manliness, courage, hard ness, and patriotism," apparently in keeping with his reputation as a sternmoralist or classical republican (cf. 1990, 91 ).2 Discerning whatever possible coher ence may lie behind such dualisms and paradoxes seems essential to grasping his fundamental intentions. These

one hand, we find praises for "sensitivity, gentleness, sen and compassion," apparently inkeeping with timentality,

David Hume, and indeed a strongmajority of the lead ing intellectuals of the time. Although Rousseau has been

doux (gentle, mild, calm, peaceable, soft, and/or sweet: see Hirschman [1977] 1997, 56-63; 1985, 43). Itwas ad vocated by Jean-Franc;oisMelon, Montesquieu, Voltaire,


his many

particular antitheses become especially relevant inview of

atic and complex than has been supposed. For instance, appeals to primitive ways of life seem chiefly intended to discredit the urbane lifestyles celebrated by doux commerce, yet we find a peculiar duality in these

rightly singled out as a uniquely vigorous opponent of doux commerce (Rosenblatt 1997,1-45; Wokler 2001, 56, 91), theways inwhich he opposed it are more problem


D. Mendham Atlanta, GA

is Post-Doctoral 30322


the Program


and Citizenship

and the Department

of Political





A previous version of this article was presented at the annualmeeting of the Midwest Political Science Association. For theirhelpful
comments, I thank Vittorio generous Study. support, Hosle, Michael reviewers. For their Zuckert, Jennifer Herdt, Mary Keys, Shmulik Nili, and three anonymous I thank the the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced University of Notre Dame,

References toRousseau's works listsectiondivisions,followedby thepage number in an English translation, then in thePleiade edition. The following abbreviations have been used. Formodern editionsofRousseau: EPW = Rousseau 1997a;LPW = 1997b; CW = 1990-;OC = 1959-1995. For frequently cited works ofRousseau: Conf. = Confessions(CW:5/OC:l); DOI = Discourse on the Origin and Foundations Discourse (EPW/OC:3); DPE = Discourse onPoliticalEconomy (LPW/OC:3); DSA = Discourse on the Men, or Second ofInequalityamong Sciences andArts,orFirst Discourse (EPW/OC:3); E = Emile,or On Education (Rousseau 1979/OQ4); EOL = Essay on the Origin of Languages = Julie, or the New Heloise (CW:6/OC:2); LA = Letterto on the M. d'Alembert (LPW/OC:5); Julie Theatre (Rousseau 1960/CW:10/OC:5); LR = Last Reply (EPW/OC:3); PF = "Political Fragments" (CW:4/OC:3); Rev. = Reveries a = Walker (CW:8/OC:l); RJJ of Solitary = Rousseau JudgeofJean-Jacques: Dialogues (CW:l/OC:l); SC Of theSocial Contract (LPW/OC:3). Translationshave occasionally been
modified. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 55, No. 1, January 2011, Pp. 170-187

?2010, Midwest Political Science 170





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PARADOXES 171 UNRAVELING ROUSSEAU'S lines of criticism. On one hand, moderns are said to be luxurious, lazy, weak, and soft, in opposition to images of

Men or Citizens?
During the last half-century, most scholars who have ventured to interpret Rousseau's general teaching have defended its fundamental unity. Some have done sowith out clear acknowledgement his thought?a task which of any deep tensions within can seem plausible enough

and oscillating characterizations of these eras, revolt against the spirit of his age? in merely This article attempts to unravel Rousseau's central opposed paradoxes, with special reference to gentleness and sever ity. It begins with some of themost influential general

primitive hardiness, vigor, ferocity, and rustic virtue. On the other hand, modern life is said to be cruel, frenzied, competitive, and harsh, in opposition to primitive gentle ness, idleness, abundance, and spontaneity. Is Rousseau, then, simply an imaginative ideologue, forwarding wildly

interpretations of his work, and comes to focus on the surprising amount ofmoral variety among "savages" he describes. In the process, it synthesizes and expands upon previous interpretations, offering an innovative typology of the character types he most prominently depicts, and differentiating certain clusters of moral tendencies and

political writings. Other scholars have, more plausibly, at tempted to show how his many apparent contradictions might somehow be consistent expressions of some deeper

so long as one, in practice, focuses chiefly or exclusively on a single aspect of it, such as the romanticism of his autobiographical writings or the republican virtue of his

norms which he considers proper to (or characteristic of) differing sociopolitical contexts. As scholars who have

this typology,which systematically depicts several funda mental contrasts and tensions,2 can serve as an illuminat ing prolegomenon, or first approach, to Rousseau's so cial thought. Accordingly, itdoes not attempt to displace

the texts, rather than all-encompassing, fixed categories Rousseau self-consciously posited. Yet I do contend that

previously offeredmore limited typologies have acknowl can edged (e.g., Todorov 2001, 3), some of the categories we as which tools be offered may bring to helpful only

some of which are nonetheless comparably defended by him. A seminal version of this approach is Judith Shklar's Men and Citizens, which argues that Rousseau presents

he praises.4 For our purposes, we will focus upon those who have shown how Rousseau presents multiple ways of lifeor kinds of society which are largely incompatible,

one principle or stance can be judged principle,3 or how to be his truest or most fundamental, despite substantial and largely unintended incompatibility among the ideals

which need not be self-contradictory since these Utopias are offeredmore in the service of diagnosing "the emo tional diseases ofmodern

two radically opposed Utopias as "equally valid" (Shklar 1969, 4). She explains how one of Rousseau's main in fluences, Archbishop Fenelon, had used a similar tactic,

prior interpretations, or pronounce definitively whether Rousseau should ultimately be understood as coherent or contradictory. Rather, it provides a clear schematization

discussions of his coherence. By laying the groundwork more systematic comparisons of precivilized, civilized, for and ideal forms of life in Rousseau, we will also be bet ter positioned to explain his full response to doux com

of aspects of his work which are plausibly perceived as a revealing some degree of tension, thereby facilitating in future and of awareness, precision, rigor greater degree

civilization" than as empirical or attainable alternatives. Rousseau's models of "a tran are not meant to be quil household" and "a Spartan city" meets to "the inner psy how each but show reconciled, men inner social and for chic needs of simplicity," unity unlike themodern

attempts to be half natural and half social, thus rending the self and generating neither true


most acute psychological and sociopolitical observations, as well as his various conceptions of virtue and of the good life.

with it,his basic stance toward modernity as he perceived it. Finally, this endeavor may be of intrinsic value in offering sustained explorations of some of his

3 contradictions Rousseau's For Straussians, many obvious clearly reader, a deep underly indicate, for the careful and philosophical see esp. Strauss (1953, 252-94), Masters (1968), Melzer ing unity:

(1990), andMarks (2005).

4Esp.Cassirer ([1932] 1989). Todorov seems close to Cassirer in

considering personal

ideal (Todorov 2001, 2002; discussed in note 13 below). Wok

a thesis of fundamental unity, while allowing

ethic an intrusion of Rousseau's the autobiographical and rather than a genuine misfortunes, imperfections

ler maintains 72, 79,


chronological shiftsand development ([1995] 2001, 32-33, 68,

the images, ob claims to "discover Starobinski 125-26). but allows desires" and nostalgic governing Rousseau, and great shifts across inconsistent for fundamentally positions sessions,

2At this formal level, my reading is perhaps closest toO'Hagan,

who understands 73-76). Rousseau as offering a "recurring however, tension" is between a morality

at the

heart of a "unitarysystematic project" (O'Hagan 1999, chap. 1; which overlapsonly of the sensesand one of duty, minimallywith
2004, O'Hagan's tension,

my typology.

texts of that the three "principal maintains Neuhouser 273-77). So Second the Discourse, Rousseau's (i.e., project" philosophical "a single, coherent system of constitute and Emile) cial Contract, in his even though contradictions maybe more common thought," other works (2008,18-19).

time ([1957] 1988,xi, 13-15, 34, 45-48, 162-63, 201-12, 228-29,

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"men" nor true "citizens" (Shklar 1969,1-6,31n4,57-58, 213; see E I, 39-40/248-49f). There can be little doubt that Shklar's distinction is illuminating, at least preliminarily.5 We might high light, for instance, Rousseau's stark contrast of (on one hand) the true citizen's radical subordination of domes tic life and repudiation of contemplative and univer salist religiosity with (on the other hand) village life's embrace of sweet, "unspoiled family love,"which even al

Figure 1 The Shklarian Model

Man Citizen

tween apparently sincere praises and forceful disparage ment of cosmopolitanism (DOI II, 174/178; "Geneva CW 4:81/OC 1.2, 3:287; cf. Todorov 2001, Manuscript" 26-30). Unlike the citizen, whose duties do not extend be yond the national borders, the cosmopolitan isnot bound to any particular polity, but to humanity as a whole. De

lows gentle Christianity to flourish (Shklar 1969, 12-32, 160-61). Along these lines, Shklar's distinction may help us understand Rousseau's recurring contradictions be

political sphere he insists upon severely prosecuting the wicked (in the manner of the Spartans and early Ro mans), lest one indirectly become cruel to the innocent. Regarding personal virtue, though, he tends toward a (proto-Kantian) maxim of "severity toward oneself and

vate goods (DPE 15-16,20-21/254-55,259-60f; "Geneva 1.2, CW 4:79/OC 3:284). And since patri Manuscript" otism and cosmopolitanism are virtually impossible to combine in the same soul?and fully impossible to com seems to have found bine among an entire people?he it necessary

spite Rousseau's occasional praise for cosmopolitanism, it is clear that he saw patriotic fervor to be deeply neces sary in the cultivation of citizen virtue, which is largely understood as love of the polity's common good over pri

Natural Goodness of Man, which is plausibly understood as the leading comprehensive Straussian interpretation, we find a largely dichotomous reading of the alternatives which Rousseau presents to civilized, divided human ity: "the political solution" and "the individualistic solu

alternative to his political ideal is the radically individu alistic, proto-romantic "solitary dreamer." This aspect of his thought is emphasized by many writers, including those influenced by Leo Strauss. In Arthur Melzer's The

poles" (Shklar 1969, 31), we might question whether Shklar has adequately depicted that of "man." For equally formidable cases have been made thatRousseau's genuine

gentleness [douceur] toward others."7 We may thus di agram a basic dichotomy of Rousseau's thought along Shklar's lines (Figure 1). in depicting these two "psychological Nonetheless,


146-47/464-65). However, an alternative vision of amore private moral virtue is also prominent in his writings, and this defines virtue as the strength of will necessary to conquer one's passions, which naturally values and serves humanity as such (E V, 441/812f; cf.Reisert 2003, 8f, 107-13, 135). In another relevant contrast, within the
5Neuhouser exclusive accounts rejects the contrast of man ideals" (2008, 19-24, 155-61, and citizen as "mutually but due

to the polity's general will (DPE 13/252; DSA and I, 13/14f)> generates a deep harmony among one's fellows, while naturally tending toward utter indiffer ence and harshness to foreigners (E I, 39/248f; SC IV.8,

to preach patriotism one-sidedly in civic contexts.6 This civic virtue is pursued through radical

to be read as pronouncements in favor of virtue?ought intended for merely popular consumption.8 The one life which is currently available tomoderns, and which re ceives true justification according to his most fundamen tal theoretical or philosophical principles, is that which he most boldly revealed in the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality (Strauss 1953, 264; Conf.

tion" (Melzer 1990, 91-108; see also Salkever 1978, 208, is seen as rigorously 223). On such readings, Rousseau consistent in his ultimate meaning, since he subtly indi cates that his political solution?and with it, his many

to the significant theoreticalefforts he requires to reconcile the

of rationality and moral motivation in Emile and Social the categories must remain valuable (236-60), prima facie.



Contract 4.7).

A fuller answerto Neuhouser isofferedin Mendham (2009, section

6"Patriotism and humanity, for example, are two virtues incompat

7For thepolitical sphere,see LR 64n/72n;E IV, 253/548; SC II.5; cf. Letters Writtenfrom the Mountain III, CW 9:186/OC 3:753f; Marks (2007, 735-37). For thepersonal virtue, seeDOI Dedica tion 121/199;"Fragments on God and Revelation,"CW 12:160/OC cf. Morals inKant (1996,AK 4:1038; RJJII, 179/891; Metaphysics of 6:385, 393).
distinction between writings or claims intended for popular audiences and those intended for as ap philosophers, see Strauss 1953, e.g., 258nl5, (1947, 466n36; plied to Rousseau, For the most recent 261n20, 280, 288-89). 265-66, sophisticated interpretation along these lines, see Kelly (2003, e.g., 37, 44-49, 64-65, 127-33, 140-71). We will return to other commentators influenced by Strauss who attempt to avoid this dichotomous read ing (e.g., Cooper, Marks), "Straussian" is the closest but to Strauss the interpretation himself. here described 8 For the Straussian


two aims" (Letters Writtenfrom the Mountain I, CW 9:149n/OC E IV, 312n/632n; 3:706n). On "an entire people," cf.DPE 16/255;
to Beaumont, CW 9:52/OC 4:967. On the tension between

has never been seen and never will be, because it is compatibility one cannot same the contrary to nature, and because give passion

ible in their and especiallyamong an entire energy, people_This

patriotismand humanity,seeDPE 15/254; Kelly (2003, 95-96).


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UNRAVELING PARADOXES 173 ROUSSEAU'S IX, 314/407). This is also very nearly the life in which he himself indulged in his later years?one of sponta sentimental shorn of human neous, attachments, delight, transcendent moral principles, and their corresponding obligations and burdens.9 While not entirely neglecting Shklar's idea of "man"?that is, the domestic and virtu

Figure 2 The Straussian Model

Individualistic solution: The solitary Dreamer Political solution: The virtuous Citizen

mestic virtue and attachments as mere popularizations of Rousseau's genuine individualistic solution. On this reading, the latter solution is only attainable by someone with extraordinary intellectual gifts.10 If Shklar's distinction between citizen and man cor

ous lifeof Emile and Julie?such readings would generally agree with Melzer in seeing this romanticization of do

appeals. In surrendering himself to the sweet reveries of solitude, he asks for nothing from society and thusmay offer itnothing in return.11 In thisway he seems to sug

gest that duties differobjectively and to a very large extent, depending on ones social circumstances.12 Along these lines, then,we may depict a second Rousseauian contrast

tion largely corresponds to Rousseau's contrast between "virtue" and "goodness." Unlike the demanding and harsh standard of virtue, this "goodness" is humanity's natural endowment toMalesherbes"

responds to Rousseau's contrast between civic virtue and domestic moral virtue, the Straussian distinction be tween the political solution and the individualistic solu

One reason for choosing either the Shklarian or the Straussian dichotomy as the most accurate overall in terpretation is that Rousseau himself characteristically frames his contrasts in a radically dualistic fashion. In this he follows a distinguished line of powerful rhetori are often, for this very cians such as Augustine?who reason, guilty of overstating their dichotomies (cf. Rist 1994,310; Letter toBeaumont, CW 9:29/OC 4:937f). Thus if it remains the case that both dualisms illuminate ba

2). (Figure

(E II, 92/322; IV, 237/525; "Letters CW 5:575/OC l:1135f; Strauss 1953, II, 290; 1959,49-50). It is the healthy and natural expression from the of love of oneself (amour de soi), which?apart corruption of society and the development of pernicious toward one's self-love or vanity (amour-propre)?tends

simple self-interestwith a minimum of harm to others, due to the influence of pity (DOI Preface, 127/126; I, 152-54/154-57; Note XV, 218/219). For our purposes, perhaps themost revealing contrast of the ethics of good ness with that of virtue is found inRousseau's conflicting pronouncements regarding harm. For, inhis teachings re lated to virtue?and especially political virtue?relevant

sic elements of his thought, we might prefer a model which incorporates them both. And since they both in

clude a similar "Citizen" category,we need only consider whether the solitary Dreamer and the domestically vir tuous member of the village or the familymight sensibly

others make binding claims upon us and not to overcome one's passions and dedicate oneself to them constitutes a

work of Jonathan Marks helpful, since he has recently established that Rousseau repeatedly praises a "middle way" between the solitary individual and the collectivized Citizen (2005, 7-11, 54-88). Marks finds that although some of Rousseau's most prominent and well-known formulations are framed dichotomously, his considered
11 For enthusiastic depictions of how he began "systematically sur

be distinguished, deciphered as significant forRousseau, and placed alongside each other. Here we may find the

to goodness, however, the avoidance of direct and pal can be reconciled pable harms to others, insofar as this with one's self-preservation, appears to be humanity's sole moral requirement (DOI I, 154/156). It seems to be the latter standard to which
9For Rousseau's oretical teachings intentional on

severe harm (DSA II, 17/18; Observations, EPW 46/OC Narcissus, EPW 97/OC 3:965; 3:51; LR 81/91; Preface to LA 16, 117/262, 337f/15, 107). In his teachings related

tohis sweetidleness [douceoisivete']"seeRJJII, 126/822; rendering his he displaysregret Rev.VII, 57/1060. At times,though, regarding
lack of moral On dedication (e.g., Conf. X, 426/509; Rev. VI, 56/1059). or need the advantages of the solitary state for never wanting see "Letters toMalesherbes" II, CW 5:576/OC ing to harm anyone,

the autobiographical
of virtue


1:1137;Conf. IX, 382/455;EII, 105n/340-41n.

12The apparent contradiction regarding



258) and Strauss (1947, 482; 1953,282, 290-91; 1959,51-53). Cf. Gourevitch'sEpicurean interpretation (2001,213-15,218-19) and
view that Rousseau's cere, personal


see esp. Melzer

through his the (1990, 90, 101-6,


or tiallyexplained by the concept of a "conditional duty" what

terms an "implicative imperative," which is not a matter of

the ethics of harm

is par

shouldnot be consideredpart ofhis fully politicalor philosophical teaching(1968, 76-77, 84-86, 91).

view, but

on conscience is his sin teaching and is of "radically restricted" importance,

Strauss (1959,53);Masters (1968,90,96,254); Salkever(1978, 10See 223-26, 223n64, 225n70); Melzer (1990, 90-92, 113, 279-81); Marks (2005, 70). Cooper (1999, 172-79; 2008, 152-63, 176);

livesat the expense of others,he owes them theprice of his keep inwork. This iswithout exception" (E III, 195/470;see also Julie V.3, 464/566f;Letter toBeaumont, CW 9:59/OC 4:976; EOL IX, 278n/406n).

of society, isolated man, "Outside owing nothing But in society, where a right to live as he pleases.

but objectivelyrequires that "under condi subjectivepreference A youmust do B" (seeHosle 1998,48). As Rousseau puts it: tions
to anyone, has he necessarily

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Figure 3 A Synthesis of the Shklarian and

Straussian Models

various moral
Solitary Existence Individual solution: Solitary Dreamer Independent Association Domestic solution: Moral Human Interdependent Multitude Political solution: Citizen

prescriptions explicitly to three socio a political contexts, thus enabling better explanation of his apparently contradictory pronouncements. For Rousseau is, in one sense, a radically political and even determin istic thinker,maintaining that characteristic mentalities

In addition to combining the insights of the Shklarian and Straussian approaches, thismodel links Rousseau's


state of "independent commerce," one may at tainmany of the sweet pleasures and cultivations of social while avoiding the radical interdependence and con life, comitant servility of advanced societies (Marks 2005, 12, 61-65, 77-82; see also Plan for a Constitution for Corsica, a middle 3:914-15). The virtuous and domes tically sentimental lifepossible under such circumstances ll:134-35/OC

a social lifebased around judgments frequently prescribe the tribe or the family to be the ideal situation. In such

and habits naturally flow from certain social conditions, and that certain moral norms and obligations are proper to those conditions (cf. Starobinski [1957] 1988, 292). In terms of our themes of gentleness and severity,we find a clear continuum of the rigor ofmoral demands across these social conditions. The Citizen, in addition to being the harshest of these three to outsiders, is also called to be the harshest to himself. He

seem to constitute "the happiness of the moral (E III, 177/444; V, 442-46, 474/814-820, 859). Whereas for Marks (as formany other recent commen would human"


and in deriving his delight from identification with the harmony and well-being of the community.14 Accord not his ingly, it iswith regard to this social state?and teaching in general?that we find Rousseau mak ing his most radically "constructivist" pronouncements.

contemplative delights, darily (at best) in domestic ones. He must instead findhis pleasures chiefly through immersion in all things public,

is not to find his happiness in and may take pleasure only secon

tators) thismodel based on Emile is clearly Rousseau's genuine ideal,13 we will suspend such final judgments. Instead, we will adopt Marks's argument for our own purposes and suggest that insofar as Rousseau variously recommends amiddle state of limited societies in addition to the two better-known extremes, we may schematize his 1999, 19-20, 26-27, thought as tripartite (cf. O'Hagan 272). Rousseau himself suggests a three-tiered distinction

soon afterhis famous "man or citizen" dichotomy, by say ing that a father, in educating his son, "owes to his species men; he owes to society sociable men; he owes to the state citizens" (E I, 49/262; see Figure 3).

tuting such a people thus requires, "so to speak, changing human nature" (SC II.7, 69/381; cf. E I, 40/250; DOI In the formation of the II, 177/182; DPE 4-5/242-43).
"moral human" Emile, by contrast, Rousseau's depiction

dent people, one must offer a correspondingly radical solution tominimize social interdependence and channel amour-propre toward communally salutary ends. Insti

For, given the naturally asocial (or at least apolitical) char acter of humans and the aggressively competitive nature of amour-propre among any large group of interdepen

13Whereas most either most most

of the leading works of a generation ago took or the Social Contract as Rousseau's the Second Discourse a as the work, rising trend is to take Emile Rousseau's claim that Emile is his "greatest

fundamental fundamental.


and best book" (RJJ I, 23/687) is quoted to this end byMarks (2005,4), Cooper (1999,4,18), and Dent (1988,1, see also 79-82; 1998, 63n6); cf.Todorov (2001, 65; 2002, 181). Conversely,some have downgraded the lifeof theCitizen because it is no longer
available to modern men because

disposition and will, with rich domestic and neighborly associations, and extraordinary physical vigor. Although he is typically gentle, this vigor and dedication

velop in due course (EIV, 290/600; "Moral Letters" V, CW 12:196/OC 4:1109). Emile combines a fundamentally cos

differs, speaking of "the natural man living in the state of and society" (E III, 205/483; Reisert 2003,21-22,118-19), of allowing natural potentials of "becoming social" to de

2002, 180). The lifeof absolute solitude has been downgraded

Rousseau expresses (Todorov 2001,31-32,57-58; ought deep regrets about his final condition Marks 2002,97,103-5; 2005,70-74; with his "fundamental 104; Reisert




25, 30, 55;



enable him to forcibly defend the weak or his country situations require (cf. Julie 1.57, 128/157; E V, 446,

456-57, 472-75/820, 834-35, 857-60). In addition, the methods applied to Emile's education seem much gentler than those applied
14DPE 15-16,

Neuhouser 2008, 85-86), or because the peculiarities of his life

and personality not to be confused 2002, see also 95-96, 128; cf. Todorov, 22, 22n). In contrast with these France, where

to the Citizen,

since Emile

is spared

and perfection"(Cassirer [1932] 1989,40; thought"in its"maturity

99-101, trends, Melzer is no 2003, argues that Emile (1990,

CW 4:79/OC 3:284.Marks plausiblyargues thatShklarexaggerates

the extent of the Citizen's subordination of private freedoms and but they nonetheless remain "more narrowly circum pleasures; see E V, scribed than Emile's or the savage's" (2005, 82, 170n35;






does not apply tophilosophersand isaddressed to an inhabitant of

citizenship longer possible 92, 277-81).


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UNRAVELING PARADOXES 175 ROUSSEAU'S from any commands of a guardian, from the terrors of a wrathful religion, and from regular immersion in the martial glories of his fatherland. Throughout his extreme social isolation during his boyhood and adolescence, he is spared from the unnatural and premature expansion of his passions. Thus when he comes to adulthood, the duties of virtue he learns are far less burdensome of nature fully among the human ways of life, since on his reading of Rousseau, "The notion of a state of nature is only a mental construct, a fiction intended to help us comprehend reality,not a simple fact" (Todorov 2001,10; see also 13, 47-48; 2002, 82-84). more comprehensive picture is offered by Lau A still

to him. At this

point, nonetheless, the high degree of severityhe requires in relation to himself is especially evident?in his need for natural religiosity,deep moral inspiration, and voluntary submission to his tutor (E IV, 324-26, 442-49/650-53, he is to overcome his burgeoning passions 814-24)?if when socially necessary (E V, 444-45/817-18; cf. Cohen 1997, 137n41).15 By final contrast, the autobiographical Rousseau

been available to humanity" (1999, 5If; see also 17-26, 51-59; 2008, 139-40, 148-49, 166-69, 175-76). Again converging with our analysis above, among these types are (1) "the virtuous citizen of the ancient, austere po lis," (2) "the Jean-Jacques of the Reveries and selected

rence Cooper, who deciphers five human types repre senting "the fundamental alternatives that are or have


ural goodness has been expressed in his deeper, abstract preferences even when social pressures led him to betrayal or abandonment (Cooper 1999, 194).

a dogged confidence that?despite his many interactions with society?he alone has maintained prior the soul of original, natural humanity, and that his nat

chafes at all constraint and eventually surren ders himself to every natural impulse. He nonetheless

other autobiographical depictions," and (3) "Emile," a natural man living in the state of society (1999, 51).16 In addition, Cooper posits?like Todorov, but as a once possible alternative? (4) "the inhabitant of the pure state of nature": a "savage" who is "asocial and pre-moral" (1999,51,54). And finally but least admirably, we find (5)

"the divided, corrupt social man, exemplified most com monly by the bourgeois but most perfectly (according to Rousseau) by the vain, malicious philosophers who con spired against Jean-Jacques" (1999, 51).17 Among these, it is only the divided social man who has in no sense a


or Prescriptive?

Having distinguished three alternative ideals offered by Rousseau, may we be said to have outlined every fun damental social state or moral life he sketches? A fur ther glance at existing interpretations may call this into question. Although what I have called the Shklarian and Straussian paradigms may be among the best-known overall interpretations, other commentators have focused

in the deepest sense" (1999, 52; cf. 1). we combine Cooper's savage and his divided social If man with Todorov's distinction between stages and alter

good or natural life, since he "lacks both moral and psy chological integrity, [living] in contradiction with nature

main ways of lifepraised by Rousseau: (1) theCitizen, (2) moral and the physical and solitary individual, and (3) the universal individual (Todorov 2001,18). These ways con verge nicely with what we have depicted, but in addition

sibilities (Cooper 1997, 51; cf.Todorov 2001, 3). Tzvetan Todorov, for instance, follows a differentmethodology than that employed here, and finds that there are three

upon the "human types" or "cast of characters" presented by Rousseau, and have come across a broader array of pos

of the former (cf. Cooper Neuhouser 1999, 52; 2008, 65, 117). This suggests, in we are to understand properly the world turn, that if historical alternatives presented by Rousseau, we must carefully investigate not only the lives he endorses as con temporary alternatives, but also his broader (and often critical) philosophy of history. Here we approach better trodden interpretive territory, since his basic philosophy

natives, we may conclude that both the savage and the divided social man represent stages,with the latterbeing the usual historical outcome

Todorov posits a distinction between the "state of soci ety," out ofwhich each of these lives flow, and the "state of nature." Whereas


161 have altered Cooper's formy own purposes, but this numbering in should not distort his argument since he presents the characters no For his pictorial schematization particular order (1999,51n26). the relation of each to nature?Cooper's of the types, indicating intention?see 49-50n22.

the difference between the state of

closest to the six posited below, his logical schema has minimal
correspondence to mine.



five types come

nature and the state of society constitutes a crossing from one stage to another, the contrast of lives following upon the state of society constitutes an alternative (Todorov 15 Moral Human These and other contrastsof theCitizen and the
are developed 4.6-7). and defended inMendham (2009, sections 4.1-2,

2001, 13). However, Todorov does not consider the state

17 becomes evidentthat Inview of thetypology offered byCooper, it Melzer also discusses the savage and thebourgeois (in addition to man of the"individualisticsolution"and the Citizen of thenatural does not employ the major methodology ofdelineatingeach of the social types inRousseau, he isnot led tobring each of these types
manner to the forefront together, and consider and Cooper. of Todorov their interrelations, in the the "political solution," discussed above). Nonetheless, since Melzer

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Figure 4 A Dualistic Model of the Philosophy ofHistory

Primitive Peaceful Savage "Civilized" Frenzied, oppressive social Man


stage as "nascent society," inwhich comparative judgments, amour-propre, and the mo development of reason and foresight have been set in refers to thismiddle

tion,with deeply ambivalent consequences for humanity, which we will explore below (DOI II, 162-67/165-71). Even with the beginnings of amour-propre, however, an

of history is apparently presented systematically in the Second Discourse, a relatively brief and frequently read work. According to the best-known version of itshistor ical narrative, humans had lived for ages untold in iso lated self-sufficiency, living entirely in themoment from

intensive social interdependence could not exist before the invention of agriculture and metallurgy (168/17 If; cf. EOLIX, 272/400). And it is interdependence which seems to be the decisively negative turning point, since as long as humans applied themselves only to tasks and arts "that did not require the collaboration of several hands, they

they had no vested interest in harming. Their needs were minimal, purely physical, and thus easily satisfied; their days were spent freely enjoying humanity's natural lazi ness in a "delicious indolence" (DOI 1,134/135; 150/152; State of War," LPW 169/OC 3:605). This idyllic statewas brought rapidly to a close, however, due to various acci dental and external causes, such as the seizure of private property and the founding of states, thus forcing others to leave the natural state for the sake of survival (DOI II, 1730178; E III, 193/467; "The State ofWar," LPW 167/OC 3:603). The "civilization" thatwas then quickly

the spontaneous fruits of the earth (DOI I, 143/144), with a childlike peacefulness in relation to others, whom

lived free, healthy, good, and happy as far as they could by their Nature be, and continued to enjoy the gentle sweetness of independent association [des douceurs d'un commerce independant]..." (DOI II, 167/171; seeMelzer 1990, 70n2, 74-81,108,290).19 Although Rousseau's dis cussion of this is middling stage terse and?like the "mid

Note X, 208/211; EOL IX,272n/401n; "The II, 1870192;

indolence of the primitive state and the petulant activity of our amour-propre, [and thus] must have been the hap piest and themost durable epoch" (DOI II, 167/171; cf. Marks 2005, 64-65; Melzer 1990, 70; Masters 1968, 168, 171-75). It seems significant enough to include in our basic model, then, and upon consideration, these three stages seem to be differentiated by precisely the same so cial structures which differentiate the three prescriptive types.Although some scholars have previously identified

dle way" represented by Emile?often overlooked, he ex states mean that it occupied "a just between the plicitly

may best be exemplified by war, in which "more mur ders were committed in a single day's fighting, and more horrors at the capture of a single town, than had been

established is characterized by vanity, fierceambition, and cruel exploitation. Its feigned order and violent essence

committed in the state of Nature for centuries together over the entire face of the earth" (DOI II, 174/179; see also

parallels between a descriptive type and a prescriptive type (e.g.,Marks 2005, 70-71, 77-79), tomy knowledge none have anticipated the following systematic analysis (Figure 5). We must

"The State of War," LPW 162-63,167/OC 3:608-10,603). Rousseau's philosophy of history thus seems to suggest a (Figure 4). of the ultimate status of the state historical Regardless of nature, Rousseau is quite clear that there can be no re turn en masse to the forests and the savage state (DOI fundamental historical dualism


IX, 203-4/207-8f). This provides further justifica tion fornot modeling italongside the three alternatives he prescribes, in various ways, forhis contemporary readers. An additional complication arises in considering whether Rousseau's primitive history can be adequately character ized as a single stage.Arthur Lovejoy and JonathanMarks are among themore careful scholars who have insisted upon the significance of a middle historical stage, be tween what we may call the "primitive" stage of the "pure state of nature" and the stage of advanced civilization.18

which a human might meet another "perhaps no more

pause to explain the terminology, since usage of "savage" seems looser than his un derlying concepts (cf. E II, 108n/345n; DOI II, 166/170). On one hand, he is remarkably clear in distinguishing the two states in question. The earliest state of humanity, which occurs in "the pure state of nature" or "the prim itive state" (DOI I, 141-42, 159/142-43, 162), is one in Rousseau's

some passages these terms are explicitly contrasted with a nascent state of society,which is characterized by "inde

than twice in theirlife" (144/146;cf. II, 161/164f). In

pendent association," and exemplified by "most" of the "Savage Peoples who are known to us" (DOI Exordium, (1990, 63, 70). Cooper is aware of this "tribal society' (1999, 17,
44, 50, 188n5), but does not integrate it into his five-type

model discussed above,perhapsbecause he does not finditto reveal pivotal about the relationofnature to thegood life. anything 19For alternative translations of this phrase, seeEPW167; CW 3:49; Marks (2005, 61,168nll); Rosenblatt (1997, 78).


18See Lovejoy (1923, esp. 165-67, 179-82);Marks (2005, 54-88); see alsoMasters (1968,166-75); Gourevitch (1988,36-37); Melzer

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Figure 5 The Basic Sociopolitical Typology

Solitary existence Descriptive, Diagnostic Prescriptive, Constructive Primitive (solitary-Savage) Individual solution: Solitary dreamer Independent

Interdependent multitude


(social-Savage) Domestic solution: Moral Human

oppressive "Civilized" Political solution: Citizen

the other hand, perhaps due to the polemical require ments of the Second Discourse in contrasting noncivilized his terminology regarding lifefavorablywith civilized life, these peoples is far less clear, referring to them indiscrim inately as "Savage," in dualistic opposition to "civilized"

Note XV, 218/219). On II, 166f/170; I, 157/160; 132/132;

a series of pro development and moral decline?and from this for process and thus radically breaking posals seen how, in his We its end. have "civilized" avoiding most prominent narrative, Rousseau attributes the rise of civilization to accidental factorswhich are external to hu man nature (DOI Preface, 124/122f; 1,137f, 159/138,162; EIV, 212/491). Nonetheless, he simultaneously maintains


socialized people who subsist chiefly by hunt ing. Partially on this basis, then, I introduce "Primitive" as a noun to refer to people of the solitary,primitive state.

(DOI 1,157/159f;Marks 2005,101). By contrast, we shall see below how the Essay on theOrigin of Languages uses a "Savage" in a narrower, technical sense, referring to

he acknowledges to be latent. This has drawn intelligent criticism from the beginning.21 However

that this process has unfolded with overwhelming uni formity, and in accordance with human capacities which


For his overarching category of "Savage," Iwill often sub stitute "noncivilized."

an applying Rousseau's broader use of "Savage" in instancewhich clearly refers to one or another social state, I will add a prefix: "solitary-Savage" or "social-Savage."

his persuasiveness on this point may be we have seen that he does not believe re challenged, an to earlier, spontaneous social state is an op turning tion. Thus for any prescriptive solution, breaking from the course of civilization requires amind and will power ful enough to transcend the usual course of thought and life in instituting a new way. If this were not daunting

distinction between diagnostic (or descriptive, or critical) and prescriptive (or constructive) teachings inRousseau. This distinction is central to Kant and later Kantian

model hinges largely of this The plausibility upon a

so bleak they nosing the ills ofmodern society, in terms seem later works whereas often (including Julie, hopeless; Emile, and the Social Contract) propose various remedies for those ills, none of which involve a return to the state of nature. Some disputes properly remain regarding how as the unqualifiedly this distinction may be applied, such extent towhich the patterns exemplified in the diagnos tic thought are retained and reapplied in the prescrip tive thought (Marks 2005, 70-79, 113-15; cf. Todorov 2001, 18). Nevertheless, themodel seems accurate inso

to by interpreters of Rousseau, while also appealed non-Kantian interpreters, such as the Straussians.20 Put are understood as diag simply, the two early Discourses

This, in turn, requires a people who areminimally social ized, and thus remain malleable.22 Any robust form of the

enough, certain highly favorable social conditions also seem to be required. In the case of the political solution, "the Legislator" along the lines of Lycurgus is required? someone who is able to "persuade without convincing."

be said

repliesat "Letterto Philopolis," EPW 224/OC 3:232; cf.DOI II, Rousseau Marks appeals to thisexchangeas evidence that 167/171. must believehis exoteric did not sincerely position, thatthenatural be equatedwith theoriginal (2005, 28-33, 98). DOI II, 175/180. LPW180/OC 3:956;Conf.XII, 543-44/648-49; cf. also seems required(SC III.8,101/416;Plan foraCon environment Corsica,CW ll:136/OC 3:914; LA 60-61, 93/295-96, stitutionfor 319/54-55,85).
rela to flourish over time and experience Interestingly, for polities in the natural tions of sweetness, a moderate degree of harshness 22SC II.7-10, III.8; Considerations on the Government of Poland II,

It would be as unreasonable to result from his nature7.... have given birth to to complain that these faculties, in developing, that God has given man such that state, as itwould be to complain CW 3:123). See Rousseau's faculties" ("Letter from M. Philopolis,"

not fromthe man, should it "Allthatresultsimmediately facultiesof

21As Charles


a well-known




far as it suggests a clear distinction between a philosophy the usual course of human social of history?depicting
20For Kant, see "Conjectural respectively). Beginning of Human History" and

View (in 2007,AK 8:116-17 Point of froma Pragmatic Anthropology

and 7:326-27,

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domestic solution seems to require a brilliant and benev olent manipulator of circumstances, such asWolmar or Emile's tutor (Shklar 1969, 127-64); alongside a divinely as Julieor Sophie; inspiring paragon of female virtue, such as well as a moderate degree of decency in one's govern

under the Saturnian dispensation," during which humans enjoyed abundant security, leisure, and simple pleasures, bestowed by Nature as a gentle and indulgent mother

ment and a robust degree of isolation from advanced and urban societies. Finally, the individual solution?in addi tion to presupposing

a person of formidable brilliance? seems to require a still higher degree of rustic isolation (cf.DOI Note IX, 203-4/207-8f).


and threats from harsh climates and predatory animals; among the "rude, hardy fellows" of this tradition were the Scythians, theGetae, and later theGermans (Lovejoy and 1935, 9-11, 70-73, 315-67). The most immediately apparent solution would be to find in Rousseau's solitary-Savage the bases for soft

(Lovejoy and Boas 1935, 10-11, 27-28, 46-47, 64-65, 304-14). By contrast, hard primitivism paid tribute to the constant overcoming of physical hardship, poverty,

Hard or Soft Primitivism?

The six-typemodel above seems useful as a firstapproach to Rousseau's teachings on the social forms and moral

primitivism, and to find in his social-Savage those of hard primitivism. In the later state, amour-propre has been awakened, and thus pride, the drive for honor, and the need to be loved and praised superlatively by

plications soon emerge regarding Rousseau's diagnos with deep implications for tic thought?complications most intensified form, his critique of civilization and its seen We in the images of the Second have how, modernity. Discourse which would prove so influential in later cults of sentimentality and romanticism, Rousseau appeals to

possibilities of human life. For those concerned with the issues of gentleness and severity, however, certain com

RJJ I, 9-10/669-70; II, 112-13/805-6). One then came to as physical harm, judge any intentional wrong not only as but also "contempt for his person," and "vengeances became terrible, and men bloodthirsty and cruel" (DOI II, 166/170). Jealousy springing from new ideas of compara tive merit, beauty, and romantic attraction also provided powerful new kindling for explosions of social violence (DOI II, 165-66/169-70; cf. E V, 429-3 l/796-98f). In deed, Rousseau was led to reason philosophically toward a gentler, prehistorical, primitive state precisely because of the historical and ethnographical evidence which de in thismiddling stage: This is precisely the state reached bymost of the Savage Peoples known to us; and it is forwant of drawing adequate distinctions between ideas, and noticing how far these Peoples already were

E IV, 213f/493; Note XV, 218/219; all (DOI I, 152/154;

been observed thatRousseau

a peaceful and idle primitive existence as a device for exposing the frenzied, unnatural oppressions of self and others which are typical of civilization. It has accordingly nowhere uses the term "no

picted the cruel vengeances of humans

motely "noble" in the usual sense (Melzer 1990, 55nl3). Nevertheless, it is equally striking that in the Discourse on the Sciences and theArts and in several other writ

ble savage" with which he is often associated, and that his image of humans in the pure state of nature is not re

pitiless in their fury and vengeance. Such images are in voked to expose, not the excess harshness or cruelty of civilized and modern life,but rather its softness, weak Rousseau ness, and decadence. In short, at firstand second glance, seems to engage in a blatant form of philo sophical self-indulgence, seeking to have itboth ways in describing the softness and severity of both civilization and savagery, and in evaluating themoral status of both

ings, he offers far different images of early humanity?as thoroughly vigorous, stern in theirmorals, and at times

soft, hard, and yet despicable. We can put a finer point on the problem by invoking Arthur Lovejoy and George Boas's distinction between two traditions which they term "hard primitivism" and "soft primitivism." The soft va was exemplified in many paeans to "the Golden Age riety

softness and severity.Otherwise put, he seems to insist, somehow, that savage life is to be seen as simultaneously soft,hard, and thus praiseworthy, while civilized life is also

enment of civil man, and restricted by instinct and reason alike to protecting himself against the harm that threatens him, he is restrained by Natural pity from doing anyone harm, without being moved to it by anything, even after ithas been done to him. (DOI II, 166/170)

when, placed by Nature at equal distance from the stupidity of the brutes and the fatal enlight

he needs political order to be made gentle [a be soin de police pour Vadoucir], whereas nothing is as gentle [si doux] as he in his primitive state

from the first state ofNature, that many hastened to conclude thatman is naturally cruel and that

We may note here in passing Rousseau's frequent ap peals to historical and ethnographical evidence regarding the social-Savage state,which deeply undermine the view

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PARADOXES 179 UNRAVELING ROUSSEAU'S that he is indifferentto empirical evidence.23 Among this vast range of sources, he takes a special interest in the Caribs, who seem to provide decisive evidence for certain softer elements of thenoncivilized?and "it is all themore primitive?state: Savages as constantly murdering one another in order to satisfy theirbrutality, as this opinion goes directly counter to experience, and as theCaribs, which of all existing Peo perhaps even the ridiculous to portray are used to show that some softer aspects of primitive life are retained in the later Savage state, the Caribs are also appealed to in establishing a certain hardness which seems to apply even to the earliest states. The reason why Caribs (likeAfricans) live in "themost profound security" with regard to ferocious beasts, is that they have realized they

This may reflect the profound indifference of all noncivi lized people to all but repose and freedom, in contrast to the citizen's frenzied pursuits of power and reputation? concepts which must have no meaning for a Carib (DOI

his Cotton bed in the morning and comes back weep ing to buy it back in the evening, not having foreseen that he would need it for the coming night" (143/144).24

its present existence, with no idea of the future," is also based partially on observations of the Carib, who "sells

ples has so far deviated least from the state ofNature, are in fact also themost peaceful in their loves and the least (DOI 1,156/158). Rousseau's claim given to jealousy..." that the Savage soul yields itself "to the sole sentiment of

stones, sticks, and arrows is often required to compensate. More generally, Rousseau frequently depicts life in or near the original state of nature as requiring and gen erating an extraordinary hardiness in comparison with civilized humanity. In keeping with the traditions of hard

surpass such beasts in skillmore than the beasts surpass them in strength (DOI I, 136/136-37, 137n). The prob lem of such beasts may suggest that nature is not as gentle a mother as is sometimes suggested, and human use of

primitivism, he appeals to the toughening effects of in clement weather, changes of seasons, and fatigue from es caping ferocious beasts (DOI I, 135/135; II, 161f/165). In such a setting those without robust constitutions perish,

a complete dichotomy between a soft primitivism grounded in the earliest humans and a hard primitivism grounded in the social-Savage is far from ade Nevertheless, quate. For, just as the above examples of Carib immediacy
23 One finds a common failure

II, 187/192f).

capable" (1,135/135; see also 157/160; Note XII, 215/217; EOL X, 279/407; E 1,59/277). Their physical capacities re sharp distinction from the garding self-preservation?in organs concerning softness (la molesse), sensuality, and exceedingly fine-tuned. This reason delicacy?become

and those with strong constitutions give birth to similarly endowed children who undergo the same travails, thus acquiring "all the vigor of which the human species is


account for the error of Shklar dling, savage state. This may largely was "utterly uninterested in history, past in claiming that Rousseau see also 6,17n3), inmain or future" (1969,1; and that of Todorov taining that "the Contrast state of nature" the excellent essential is "only a mental construct,

chiefly)philosophically ratherthan empirically?from themid

state of nature?about

to distinguish between the pure, reasons (at least which Rousseau

fiction"and "purely imaginary" (2001, 10, 13; cf. 48, 57; 2002,
82-84). cludes account that it seems argumentation to Rousseau's correct or that it of the pure state of nature is historically could have been so (2006, esp. 79-80; is not so, but that it perhaps of logical and estimations of the combination other more balanced are offered by Meek in the Second Discourse elements empirical 1999, 17-18, 41-42). 1923, 169nl; Cooper 1976, 78-79; Lovejoy of Kelly, who con project, not that his

observes that although civilized man, with advanced ma overcome the savage, if they chinery in hand, can easily were both unarmed itwould be a still more unequal contest in the savage's favor (I, I35/135f). At the same time, since primitive man's passions are minimal, and his reason and amour-propre are uncultivated, there are

ing is confirmed by travelers' reports of "most Savage Peoples," which express astonishment at their strength and acute senses of sight, hearing, and smell (DOI I, 140/140; Note VI, 194-95/199-200). Rousseau similarly

inHistoire the natural goodness of the Caribs Tertre, who defended les Francois (1667). For du Tertre's generale des Antilles habiteespar cf.OC 131).

a Jesuit, accountof thesoldbed derivesfrom 24The Jean Baptistedu on Rousseau, seePire (1956,359); DOI Note VI, 195/200; influence
Itmay and Hulme and Whitehead( 1992, esp. 129, 3:1321-22,1346, out the Caribs as seem strange that Rousseau singles cruel to outsiders, ambitiously warlike, and frequent

no temptations to disobey the "gentle voice [douce voix]" of pity, and he will naturally seek his own good with the least possible harm to others, being fierce only oc casionally and as preservation requires (DOI Preface, 154-57; Note IX, 127/125f; I, 135-36, 152-54/136-37, 198f/203). Thus vengeance is only mechanical and im mediate, seldom leading to bloodshed; for such reasons Rousseau declares them "fierce [farouches] rather than wicked" (154/157).25 By comparison, we have seen above

being closest to theprimitivestate,given theirreputationforbe

ing unusually


eatersof beast and human flesh (Abulafia2008, 125-26; cf.Buf fon inOC 3:1345, on 171nl). This reputationis based originally
the fearful testimony of the Tamos, the Tainos more larger and vastly excluded nonetheless, to the state of nature due to their a were, crafts trade, advanced structures (cf. Abulafia

group. Perhaps peaceable as closest from consideration

EOL IX, 267-68/395-96,which explainshow conditions of 25Cf.

uncertainty, Here, never

extensive intensive practices of agriculture, hierarchical and of canoes, power manship

animal" (267/395). of "the firsttimes" to be "a ferocious [feroce]

who has "Someone is contrasted with wicked: too, ferocious reflected cannot be clement, or just, or pitying; nor can he

fear, and weakness


it necessary

for each man

biases broughtby all European 2008, 117-23). For the conflicting Meek (1976,37);Weber (2005,41). observersof thenewworld, see

be wicked and vindictive" (268/395f). In view of the comment

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180 how in social-Savages, amour-propre makes outbursts of vengeance more intense and less limited by mere self preservation, and thus these outbursts may be described as "cruel" rather than (themore beast-like) "fierce."26 Unfortunately, while one might outline the soft and


primitivism with some con seems how these elements cohere. it far less clear fidence, His primary account in the Second Discourse seems to hard elements of Rousseau's be one of an overwhelmingly abundant and secure orig inal state (DOI I, 134/134f), which was interrupted by accidental and foreign causes. At the same time, among the difficulties with which "nascent man" is "soon" pre sented are ferocious beasts and the height of trees (II, 16If/165), and these would seem to harden the hu

be supported by the Essay on the Origin of Languages. There Rousseau derides European philosophers for pro jecting their own "barren and harsh" conditions onto the first men, since humans their origins in the farmore (like all animals) surely had abundant and accommo

However, it is also possible that Rousseau posits two different kinds of primitive states, with one being con can siderably softer than the other, and this possibility

These lushand fertile datingSouth (EOLVIII, 266/394).

climates allow men to live more easily, and thus with out one another (IX, 272, 277/400, 405; cf. II, 253/380; PF X, 56-57/532-33). This may converge with the claim in the Second Discourse that as humanity spread, "diffi


condition from nearly the beginning. According Jonathan Marks, we ought to infer that, for Rousseau, these harsher aspects of life?requiring foresight and to the very circumstances?are from present hardening beginning. And thuswe must also infer that inhis genuine teaching, nature and human nature are essentially dishar


Note XVII, 221/222). cf. ways of life(DOI II, 162/165;

Itmay be, then, that to whatever extent one inhabited a Southern climate with a low population, ones condi

culties multiplied together with men," leading them to different sorts of terrain and climates, and thus different

monious Marks

satire, intended to undermine his previously stated defi nition of "nature" as equivalent to origins and therefore independent of history and circumstance 15-38, 93-104). (Marks 2005,

cf.Cooper 1999,189). (Marks 2005,5-7,26-28; further argues thatRousseau's depiction of a lush and idyllic state of nature must therefore be a form of

tionswere quite "prodigal," whereas population pressures may have forced many to themore "miserly" North (cf. EOL X, 279/407). Alternatively, higher population would at least lead to greater scarcitywithin the South, making "the height of trees" (DOI II, 161/165) newly problematic. For such reasons, we may suggest that, forRousseau, al

was prob though an unqualifiedly softprimitive existence are certain soft elements and ably quite rare, although incorporated in perhaps any lifeprior to nascent society and especially civilization, there are some solitary, prim itive states which seem predominantly soft,while others seem predominantly hard.27 In order to avoid confusion


times (267/395), and the rise Essay, familiesexisted in these first

of sweeter sentiments due and mutual of families

lack of reflection, this seems to converge with the category of in the the first state of nature in the Second Discourse. However, taming as occurs with a mixture

betweenfamilies (277, 278/405f,406), rather thanwith the rise

to fixed settlements, in the Second Discourse

These contrasts seem to derive largelyfrom (DOI II, 164/167f). thediffering theologicalassumptions of the twoworks,with the Discourse hypothetical!/excluding the divine bestowal of "lights void of lastingsociality (DOI Exordium, 132/132).The laterand
unpublished with ancient and Precepts," and accordingly positing a lengthy primitive state the authority Essay claims to "reconcile records," positing a relapse after Noah's of Scripture Flood "into

normatively loaded uses of the terms "soft" (mow,molle) and "hard" (dur), we will henceforth dub those primitive existences which predominantly align with Lovejoy and Boas's category of "soft primitivism" as with Rousseau's "Idyllic Primitives," and those predominantly aligning with their "hard" category as "Vigorous Primitives."

thedull barbarism they would have been in ifthey had been born of the earth" (EOL IX, 271/399, cf. 269/397).On thesediffering assumptions, seeDuchet and Launay (1967, 428-29); Gourevitch (1986, 125-26,137).
became and terrible, and men bloodthirsty says that "vengeances I have restated Rousseau's ultimate position here as sug cruel. In addi (not men as such) became gesting that vengeances cruel," tion, "cruel" another's here should suffering

Sweet or Cruel Savagery?

In addition to these harsher aspects of solitary life, any strictdichotomy between a softprimitive state and a hard social-Savage state is further undermined by the obser possible by nascent

theDOI 26Although

II, 166/170passage (quoted above) actually

vation that the romantic love made

with fallaciously inferring originalhumanityfromtheserecords(cf. "Idea of the Method in the Composition of a Book," EPW 301/OC 2:1243).

be taken as rhetorically overstating the cruelty of the social-Savages of whom we have records, accepting the extreme evaluations of one's interlocutors for the sake of argument before charging them

The passage shouldprobably positivedelight inanother'ssuffering.

be taken as a momentary indifference to in a moment of rage, rather than a fixed and

Second Discourse see 34-37).

state thatthepeaceful,easilysatisfied Partof the depicted intheFirst

"probably never existed, since nature is harsh and Consider also Rousseau's later attempt to establish a


thus seems

to underestimate

the role of climate

in arguing

does not leavehuman beings inpeace" (2005, 37, emphasis added; colony of rabbits,amid conditionswhich might be described as soft (Rev. V, 44/1044). predominantly

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UNRAVELING PARADOXES l8l ROUSSEAU'S society is not solely a tale of jealousy and violence. Af ter a chain of events led from increased interaction to increased rationality, the use of tools, and finally the development of huts, families could be established and differentiated (DOIII, 164/167). The habit of living to to rise "the first developments of the then gave gether to man, The humans the sweetest [les plus doux] sentiments known conjugal love and Paternal love" (164/168).28 rise of such ideas and sentiments is said to tame expressions of cruelty unknown Rousseau nonetheless considers inmore primitive life. this stage "the golden age," since meetings with outsiders so rarely occurred: "Everywhere the state of war prevailed, yet the whole


later savage life to which Rousseau appeals in the firsr Discourse and the polemics which followed it. In criticiz

earth was at peace" (269/396). And although this aspect of his thought is by no means clearly developed, it may be that it is these harder attributes of both primitive and

(166/169). In the Essay, Rousseau similarly de picts youths' initial interactions with new, sweeter sights which render the heart "less savage": outside their family, spirited young people gradually for got their ferociousness [ferocite],littleby little they tamed one another; in striving tomake themselves understood "Beneath old oaks...

ing the luxurious softness ofmodern humanity, he there appeals to the rude, rustic virtues of such (often despised) peoples as the Scythians, the early Persians, the Spartans, (DSA I, 11/11-12; Letter to Grimm, EPW virtues include a vigorous endurance Such 58/OC 3:65). of pain, martial strength, true courage, "good faith,hospi and the Goths tality,30justice, and... a great horror of debauchery..."

they learned to make themselves intelligible" (EOL IX, 277/406). The cultivation of romantic love thus seems to increase sweetness as well as severity, and this paradox is not lost on Rousseau. Indeed, "at the least obstacle" this "tender and sweet [tendre et doux] sentiment" becomes an "impetuous frenzy," "and the gentlest [la plus douce] of all passions receives sacrifices of human blood" (DOI II, 165/169). In addition to these outbursts regarding the

life, the sexes begin to establish differentways of living, with thewomen becoming more sedentary, while "both Sexes... began to lose something of their ferociousness and vigor" as a result of "their slightly softer [un peu plus molle] life" (DOIII, 164/168). Through such factors as the me mastering of useful animals (162/166) and the rise of chanical conveniences, the body is continually weakened in comparison with primitive life (164f/168; cf. DSA II, 20-21/22-23). And just as our domesticated animals are smaller and less vigorous than wild ones, so also humans are enervated from our "soft [molle] and effeminate way Whereas ominous the Second Discourse

In contrast to these conflicting psychological devel opments, certain material attributes of nascent society lead straightforwardly to softening. Due to amore settled


beloved, we also find at this stage the first historical ana on a logue to the insider-outsider distinction exemplified

broader scale by Rousseau's model of the patriotic Citi zen: "Hence the apparent contradictions one sees in the fathers of nations. Such naturalness and such inhumanity, such ferocious ways [moeurs siferoces] and such tender

hearts, somuch love for their family and aversion toward their species. All their sentiments concentrated among their near ones were therefore themore energetic" (EOL

of life"(DOI I, 138f/139).
rise of modern

IX, 268/396).29 Thus the state of independent association ismarked by the cultivation of human capacities for the sweeter and gentler sentiments, and at the same time a vast increase in the stakes of threats to the enjoyment or of one's beloveds?whether by romantic competition tribal outsiders' encroachments?which
28This is part of the reason the leading

an economic practice which enables much of the leisure we have found in the primitive state, in combination with the broader Rousseau social sentiments of nascent society. There man consid precisely defines "three stages of

here anticipates the luxury, the Essay focuses upon

leads to intense
of amour-propre



clearlyestablishthat it isnot simplyevil (asmany accountswould

it), but simultaneously the source of the greatest human evils

human possibilitiesand goods. SeeDent (1988, esp. and thehighest 4, 20-25, 52-58, 76, 85; 1998,63-64); Cooper (1999, esp. 114-72); 250, 267).
(2008, esp. 9-11, 53, 59-70, 119, 156, 187-88, 218-19,

ered in relation to society," where "everything is seen to be related in its principle to the means by which men as... a function of the provide for their subsistence, and nature of the soil." Namely, "The sav climate and of the man age is a hunter, the barbarian a herdsman, civil


a tiller of the soil" (EOL IX, 272/400).32 Although the

30See "The Levite of Ephraim," CW 7:356/OC 2:12126 Rev. IX, XX.2. 87171097;cf. Montesquieu [1748] 1989, 31 DSA which thesetraits Cf. 1,7/8;II, 20-22/22-24. For thesense in
are natural, see Cooper (1999,108-12). is also related to languages (see EOL V, 32This three-stage model the savage, barbarian,

more negative or cruelty iscommonlythe with historicism. Ferocity

of would place greatness or magnificence pole, but several thinkers the more positive pole. affection?as than Rousseau's soul?rather

in the moeurs of an contradictions 29Explaining merely apparent theme among social thinkers associated cient times is a common

See esp. Vico ([1744] 2001, ?38, 272, 991); Mill ([1836] 1977, 130-31); and Nietzsche ([1887] 1994, 1.11, 26). Formany early
observations on the violence or cruelty of the ancients, see


but stillevidentdistinctionamong 257/385).There is a lessformal

and civilized states in the Second Discourse

Rahe(1994, 235-51).

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men" (269/396) and Essay claims to investigate "the first "the firsttimes" (cf. 267n/395n), it either bypasses or re vises theDiscourses men"


In contrast with the "less active and more

peaceable majority": The most active, themost robust, those who were always on themove could only live off fruit and

mans with food, clothing, and tents. "[F]ather of repose and of the indolent passions" (271f/400), pastoral life en abled countless hours of the romantic taming we have depicted, since "time had no other measure than enjoy

able," stopped this frenzied cycle "as soon as they could" by gathering and taming cattle (271/399). Thus pastoral was born, which Rousseau praises as "the most self life sufficient art," since it "almost effortlessly" provides hu

earth.33Apparently having already commenced the cycle of human industry responding to new needs, the greater number of people, who were "less active and more peace

in hunting, herding, or farming, in contrast to the Dis course's mere gathering of the spontaneous fruits of the

primitive state, since the Essay's "first are united in families, and apparently must engage


crimes of these firstKings; war and conquests are nothing but manhunts. Once they had con quered, it only remained for them to devour This is what their successors do_Of man? the threeways of lifeavailable to

the hunt; so theybecame hunters, violent, blood thirsty and, in time, warriors, conquerors, and usurpers. History has stained its records with the

learned to

firstde hunting, herding, and agriculture?the of velops strength, skill, speed body, courage and cunning of soul, ithardens [endurcit] man and makes him ferocious [feroce]. (EOL IX,

ment and boredom" plausible

society enjoyed "the gentle sweetness of independent as sociation" as herdsmen, and the tenor of their liveswas

(277/406). For such reasons, it seems that at least themajority of people in nascent

Such a lifeof hardened and habitual bloodthirstiness does not seem to be paralleled among the noncivilized humans depicted in the Second Discourse.36 It is not immediately

images, of which he himself was the fondest.34 Accordingly, a more accurate moniker for him and his oquent

predominantly soft in both labor and social (i.e., familial) relations.We might finallynote that it is of such pastoral images that Rousseau drew many of his most grandil

clear how this textual difference should be explained. It may simply be that the purpose of theDiscourse is to indi cate the origins of inequality, and accordingly it can only rapidly outline the intermediate forms of society which are depicted at length in the Essay (cf.Duchet and Launay

However, in the same pages we are introduced to Rousseau's most severe human type?at least among the

theoretical progeny may be "the gentle barbarian," rather than "the noble savage."

as well.

In claiming Rousseau civilization, remained Barbarians

without the other" (DOI II, 168/171f; cf.Note VI, 194/199;SC PF XVI, 75/560). See alsoMontesquieu ([1748] III.8, 101f/415f;
1989, XVIII. 11). On the mode of subsistence in Enlightenment

that metallurgy and agriculture gave rise to writes that certain peoples "seem to have as long as they in one of the Arts engaged

Essays more impartial and descriptive tone may indicate a shift away from the harsh and somber Discourse.38 The
35 See the remarks on meat and in E

1967,434,423).371 would also suggest,more speculatively, that since the Essay began as a fragment of theDiscourse, but was probably not completed until around 1761, the

stadial theories,seeMeek (1976, esp. 76, 90-93f);Weber (2005,

40). 33Discussed primitive, in note spontaneous 25 above. It is noteworthy that Rousseau's "fruits" of the earth do not include animals,

other hand, Emile the more dangerous 320-21/644-45).

on Cf. Julie 153-55/411-14; JulieIV.10, 372f/453; RJJII, 114/808. the desensitizing impactof dueling (Julie1.57, 130/160).On the
is introduced passions to to distract him from hunting of his burgeoning sexuality (see EIV,




sincehumans arenot originally carnivorous(DOI Note V, 194/199; contra Meek 1976,84,86f).The incompatibility ofhunting with the reinforced may be further primitivestate by theclaim that hunting isnot at all favorableto population growth,quicklydepleting its
or "less as a primary means land of prey. Thus all of "the fathers of large nations" were shepherds rather than hunters, and hunting should be of subsistence farmers regarded to the than as a supplement

36The origin of hunting is briefly mentioned in theDiscourse, but the hunters' lifestyleis not described. Also, unlike the Es
the Discourse say's psychological interpretation, points to climate and terrain: "In forests [humans] made bows and arrows, and be came Hunters were drawn and Warriors..." (DOIII, 162/165;

most active,potentially warlike people 56/532). It may be thatthe

to the harsh environment warlike of the forest, or that the harsh

similarly, PF X,

environment of theforest most quickly led to thedominance of the 37 Consider also thediffering theological assumptions of the two works (note 25 above), which allow theEssay to essentially omit
the solitary stage. also observes Rousseau how does the Essay ismore descriptive and men (1986, 140). Without seem to distance himself from 38Gourevitch less critical tioning active, potentially people.

pastoral state" (EOLIX, 271, 271n/399,399n).

2:1212f. Pastoral

34See Conf. XI, 491/586; "The Levite of Ephraim,"CW 7:356/OC

are associated with romance images Rousseau's he describes soul, as when the austere Jean-Jacques, nearly and the con his intoxica

flict within of Geneva,

tions during thewriting of Julie: "and behold the graveCitizen

behold forty-five years

old, suddenlybecoming the extravagantshepherdagain" (Conf. IX, 358f/427).

than the Second Discourse

the Discoursewhen he blames Diderot forgiving ita "harsh [ dur]

the Essay,

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UNRAVELING ROUSSEAU'S PARADOXES 183 polemical thesis of theDiscourse required it to depict non civilized lifeas characteristically softand gentle, especially during itsmost properly natural phase, which ismore primitive (and thus gentle) than the lives of most con temporary savages. It may be for this reason that it some

Figure 6 The Detailed Sociopolitical Typology ofNoncivilized Humans

Solitary existence Images of softness: under abundant, harmonious conditions IdyllicPrimitive: spontaneous contentment, peacefulness, docility Vigorous Primitive: exertions for Independent association Social-Savage, or Barbarian: sweet and gentle; cruelty Hunter-Savage: bloodthirsty, habitual violence to beasts and

the polemics of theDiscourse, since in dwelling at length upon the delights of the Barbarians' sociability, itempha sizes an exception to the layer of theDiscourse which was directed against society as such. And in clearly depict ing a habitually bloodthirsty yet preagricultural human type, the Essay may naturally dampen the longing which the Discourse evoked for noncivilized the reasons for this textual difference, theDis

times blurs the distinction between the solitary Primitive Masters 1968,171-74). By con and the social-Savage (cf. trast, the Essay may be seen as partially undermining

occasional bursts of

Images of severity: under scarce, violent conditions

sustenance; occasional bursts of ferocity _humanity_

life as a whole.39


applied to expose the genealogy and character of civilized privilege.40 Figure 6 may schematize Rousseau's images of the softness and severity of noncivilized life.The dotted line indicates a distinction which

more skillful,and culture, when those who were stronger, more ingenious employed various stratagems which rad

course's closest approximation to the bloodthirsty hunters is found after the invention of landed property and agri

(DOI II, 171/175f). Although the Second Discourse thus seems to consign thoroughgoing viciousness to civilized peoples, the polemics following theFirstDiscourse had ul

49/522). This eventually led to a class war inwhich the rich "had scarcely become acquainted with the pleasure of dominating than they disdained all other pleasures..."

PF VII, (DOI II, 169f/174; ically heightenedinequality

is not as explicit or readily as in Rousseau the distinctions indicated by solid implicit lines. His apparent vagueness here could be partially ex plained insofar as the groups on either side of the dotted line are similar in social complexity and historical locus, differing only in the favorability of theirnatural and social

timately conceded the presence of certain vices among the noncivilized. In contrast to the "reasonable" and "mod

Soft or Harsh Civilization?

Ifwe turn briefly to Rousseau's depictions of advanced civilization and modernity,41 we might find that the

est" ignorance which Rousseau finds essential to ancient virtue, "There is a ferocious and brutal ignorance, born of a wicked heart and a deceitful mind; a criminal igno rance even of the duties of humanity, which multiplies the vices, degrades reason, depraves the soul, and rendersmen similar to beasts..." {Observations, EPW 49/OC 3:54). such vices despicably feed their self Peoples exemplifying

bulk ofmodern humanity is similarly dichotomized into those under conditions of abundance and softness, and those under conditions of scarcity and severity. Impor tantly, however, these favorable conditions are attained not through the spontaneous abundance of the earth or the pastoral harnessing of animals, but through advanced

indulgence, ambition, and idleness "with the sweat, the blood and the toil of amillion wretches" (LR 72/82; cf.Let ter toGrimm, EPW 54/OC 3:62). Such images of vile, non civilized hardness are rare inRousseau, but as we can see from the immediately above, even these could be readily

40 of savages in general seems Smith's depiction By contrast, Adam For Smith, savages typi far closer to Rousseau's hunter-Savages. encounter harsh which conditions very give rise to hard and cally austere with The

of the Discourse, seeDuchet and Launay (1967, ning as a fragment Meek (1976, 90-91); Starobinski(OC 5:cci-ccii).
39 All 436-37). For the probable date of the Essay's relevant sections, see

tone" and "dark air" (Conf. VIII,


For the Essay's


cf. 1.5, 23-26; V.i.g.10, Smith's

thehighestpitchof fury"(Smith [1759-90] 1982, V.2.8-13,204-9;

III.3.34-38, 152-52; claim VII.ii.4.2, 306; [1776] 794). Cf. Rasmussen's defense of commercial that the ultimate

an extreme endurance of pain, along virtues, cultivating and for drives vengeance cruelty against their enemies. strong to are often concealed, but are "all mounted latter capacities 1981,

which divide civilized and inequality flicted by the interdependence

peoples Citizen

of this being

said, the hunter-Savages

do not


to be af

societies?despite in regarding their moral and political drawbacks?lies and inse of "the poverty, dependence, Smith's harsher depiction 626). curity that characterized most previous ages" (2006, 620-21, to Rousseau

ground of his concessions

thepeople withwhom one lives" (cf.E I, 39/249).

among themselves. In this way, even theywould parallel the in exemplifying the "essential" moral "good to trait?being

41 Mendham (2009, These points have been developed at lengthin Mendham (forthcoming).
chaps. 2-3). An abbreviated version of chapter 3 is available as

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Figure 7 The Comprehensive Sociopolitical Typology

I. Solitary existence A. Descriptive: Under abundant, harmonious, or privileged conditions B. Descriptive: Under scarce, violent, or oppressive conditions IA. Idyllic Primitive: spontaneous contentment, peacefulness, docility II. Independent association or HA. Social-Savage, Barbarian: sweet and gentle socially; occasional bursts of cruelty IB. Vigorous Primitive: exertions for sustenance; occasional bursts of _ferocity_ IC. Solitary Dreamer: heeds only naturally gentle, properly voluptuous, immediate impulses; association may be sweet if void of all obligation MB. Hunter-Savage: bloodthirsty, habitual violence to beasts and humanity IIC Moral enables Human: domestic Interdependent multitude IMA. "Civilized" Elites:

physically soft; habitually "polite" to peers or superiors; habitually harsh to inferiors 1MB. "Civilized" Commoners: physically deprived, socially degraded, habitually knavish IIIC Citizen: virtue as conformity to the general will; patriotic delight in public goods; harsh indifference to foreigners

Prescriptive: Decisive breaks from the usual course of civilization

virtuous self-command sweetness, communal and cosmopolitan occasional, dedication, and moderate _severity_


each other, and the great majority of individuals will be deprived of necessities and degraded into habitual de

the extent that a people has become civilized and inter dependent, their interests are fundamentally at odds with

Note IX, 199/203f). To the multitude (DOI I, 137/138;

luxuries necessarily acquired at the expense of

cial wealth, cross-cultural interaction, and higher learning have made their partakers more polite and less violent in key respects (e.g., DSA I, 7/7; Observations, EPW 47/OC 3:52; LR 65/74). Yet he interprets such gentleness as result ing not from higher moral conviction or more elevated sentiments, but rather from physical softness, psycholog

and cruelty in noncivilized life, it is striking that he does not portray his elite contemporaries as ferocious or ac tivelycruel. Rather, he grantsmuch of the descriptive con tent of doux commerce theory, conceding that commer

ceit, betrayal, and theft (cf. PN 101-2n/970n). However, given the intensityof Rousseau's polemics against moder nity, and his concession of certain elements of ferocity

acts, and on the other hand, a lack of authentic senti ment which makes them incapable of the sweet, intimate, spontaneous relations of social-Savages and Barbarians.

refraining from charging the elitemoderns with ferocity or active cruelty is a significant concession on its face, Rousseau ultimately faults them for,on one hand, an ex cessive softnesswhich makes them incapable of vigorous

cruelty but their "harshness" or "hardness" (durete: "Let ters to Malesherbes" IV,CW 5:582/OC 1:1145). Although

A final diagram (Figure 7) summarizes the major dis tinctions and social types described above. This analysis

icalweakness, and moral indifference (LR 70/79; "Moral Letters" II, CW 12:181-82/OC 4:1089-90; EIV, 335/665). In addition, given theworkings of the established state ap

finds our suggests the great extent to which Rousseau morals to be shaped by our surroundings, in terms of social complexity (the horizontal dimension), the favora bility of our environmental resources (the descriptive ele ment of the vertical dimension), and whether a far-seeing intellecthad decisively broken with the usual course of civ

masses, which

is naturally combined with contempt or disdain for them (EIV, 224-25/507-9; "On Wealth," CW ll:8-16/OC 5:471-81). In these ways, Rousseau's funda

paratus and economic system, they simply have no need for the vigorous ferocity ofmuch noncivilized life (cf. E IV, 236n/524n; Conf. VII, 274/327). Instead, they need only remain largely indifferent to the sufferings of the

ilization (the prescriptive element of the vertical dimen sion). This schema builds upon and confirms the status

of themain

mental charge against his elite contemporaries

isnot their

by Rousseau, it draws attention to additional characters which are theoretically pivotal, and which are neglected or undertheorized inprevious analyses. Moreover, each of

characters previously identified by Rousseau scholars (who find between two and five types).Without claiming to definitively identify each social type depicted

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UNRAVELING ROUSSEAU'S PARADOXES 185 these characters has been placed within a typology which attempts to show the interrelation ofmany of Rousseau's human possibilities which are indeed very high in their greatness and purity, but exceedingly narrow in the social and cultural conditions which enable them. More appar generally, by interpreting Rousseau's ently conflicting remarks carefully according to sociopo litical context, we can discern many consistencies un derlying his inconsistencies. In analyzing the social types which emerge, we might also find that Rousseau shows a surprising degree of impartiality in openly depicting vari

fundamental social principles in a more systematicman ner than has previously been attempted. To be sure, some of these social types and principles aremore evident and thought. Accord to is rather this offered conversation spur ingly, typology than to conclude it.Yet it ishoped that even in provoking disagreement, itmight enhance the clarity and rigor of our reflections by bringing several basic types and prin ciples systematically to the forefront. fundamental than others inRousseau's

suggest a particular understanding of Rousseau's teach ings on perfectibility and the possibilities of human life. Rousseau probably coined the term "perfectibilite" (cf. Wokler mental 1978, 127-28, 134n93), and it became a funda social premise for legions of later progressive and radical reformers, suggesting the prospects for indefinite social improvement. For Rousseau, perfectibility is the

For instance, by framing the various types as arising from our sociopolitical surroundings, this analysis may

Furthermore, our analysis may reveal a degree of mod eration in his moral stances, in both their critical and prescriptive expressions. For, despite all his bravado in praising the hard sternness of theCitizen or theVigorous Primitive, he consistently repudiates anybloodthirstiness, lust for domination, and universal hard-heartedness.

ous nonmodern weaknesses, while at least observationally and implicitly acknowledging certain modern strengths.

Similarly, despite all his romanticism in praising the idle ness and abundance of the Idyllic Primitive or the pas toral Barbarian, he consistently repudiates any softness attained through human exploitation, or of frivolous lux ury, or of failure to execute any duties appropriate to one's sociopolitical condition. Yet though his various

only facultywhich isundeniably unique to humans; with "the aid of circumstances," it successively develops all our other faculties (DOI I, 142/142). Thus, our survey of the extraordinary range of human types, and the environ mental circumstances which give rise to them, can be read as a study of the implications of perfectibility. Rousseau's


broader anthropology of the possible is regularly used to expose themoderns' complacency in believing their own petty baseness

is the pinnacle of human possibility (DOI Note X, 210/212f; SC III. 12; Considerations on the Gov ernment ofPoland II, 179f/956; PF XIII, 64/544). In such

ilized Elite softness through the image of the Vigorous Primitive, the stern Barbarian, or the ancient Citizen. But itwould require a more careful and sustained anal

social types display moral and phenomenological integrity, theremay remain a degree of arbitrariness in his appeals to them. It is, for instance, rhetorically compelling to expose Civ

ways Rousseau is a true father of progressive perfectibility, but in several other ways he differs from this legacy of his. Notably, he reflected so extensively upon the nature and advantages of noncivilized life chiefly because he main tained that, through the strong passions resulting from

a substan ysis to show that those moderns who enjoy tial degree of economic security, leisure, and refinement due to economic and technological progress are charac

teristically softer in less appealing ways than the Idyllic Primitive, or harsher inmore deplorable ways than the cize amodern weakness by appeal to an inverse primitive more impartially philosophical ap strength,whereas a proach would surely compare strengths against strengths and weaknesses against weaknesses. For such reasons, our only be consid analysis?insofar as it is convincing?can ered a prolegomenon to future discussions of Rousseau's coherence, rather than a demonstration of it. Some mys tery shall always remain in explanations of how he ap
Typically, Rousseau's approach is to criti


interaction and interdependence, advanced civilizations must with overwhelming regularity fall into devastating forms of corruption, degradation, and mutual exploita tion. Ironically to civilized ears, much of this degrada

tion is blamed upon the unfolding of perfectibility itself, which "perfects... human reason, while deteriorating the

VIII, 326/388). It is for such reasons that even Rousseau's most thoroughly developed and optimistically prescribed Moral Human, human types?the Solitary Dreamer, the be highly selective in their devel and the Citizen?must

see II, 184/189; manywithvices (DOI I, 159/162; ingthe E Conf. DOI alsoDSAII, 16/18; 1,15117154; III, 204/483;

overcom a species," and develops virtues in few,while


to both gentle savages and fierce citizens in his campaigns against modern civilization.

opment of human faculties, and highly secluded from the false delights and sophistications of civilized modernity. Overall, inRousseau's analysis, once human perfectibility has moved beyond

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