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, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Spring 2009), pp. 251-274 Published by: Cambridge University Press for the University of Notre Dame du lac on behalf of Review of Politics Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25655818 . Accessed: 30/01/2013 09:28
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The Review of Politics 71 (2009), 251-274. Copyright ? University ofNotre Dame doi:10.1017/S0034670509000333 Printed in theUSA
and the Problem
Abstract: From the beginning of his career in the First Discourse to its end in the clear that the problem of Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Rousseau makes
self-knowledge I argue the rank bourgeois, stubbornly is a central
seeks to address. This essay studies Rousseau's
that attention order to the problem of Rousseau's and
thought in the light of thatproblem.
to understanding man, the remains solitary natural
is essential of self-knowledge human five major citizen, types?the
walker of the Reveries and Emile. The persistence of the problem of self-knowledge
in Rousseau's comprehensive solve them. thought makes it clear that he was more concerned with with teaching depiction of human problems than he was presenting us how a to
I further argue that self-knowledge Jean-Jacques. even most for Rousseau's figures?the exemplary
From the beginning of his career in the First Discourse to its end in the Reveries of theSolitary Walker, Rousseau makes clear that the problem of self-knowledge is a central problem?perhaps the central problem?that his thought seeks to from the point of view of address.1 In this article, Imap Rousseau's thought
famous beginning of the Confessions: "I wish to show my fellows a man in all the truthof nature; and thisman will be myself" (Confessions [C hereafter], 5). In Emile,
(Emile [E hereafter], 41). The Reveries, too, begin by asking "what am I?" (Reveriesof theSolitary Walker [R hereafter], 1).My argument for the centrality of the problem
self-knowledge assumes substantial overlap between Rousseau's inquiries into
is to make
the nature of man and his inquiries into his particular self; Rousseau seems to justify that interpretive assumption in the remark from the Confessions just cited, as
as in the remark of Rousseau's Frenchman in the Dialogues that "a man had to
portray himself to show us primitive man like this" (Rousseau, Judgeof Jean-Jacques: Dialogues [D hereafter], 214. See also Roger Masters, The Political Philosophy of Rousseau, [Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1968], vii). My argument for the cen with Arthur tralityof the problem of self-knowledge does not, inmy view, conflict Rousseau's thought (Melzer, The Natural Goodness of Man: On the System of Rousseau's Thought [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990], 15). A principle is
not the same as a argument that the natural goodness of man is the unifying principle of
can be most clearly understood by considering the principle of natural goodness as
part of the problem of self-knowledge. Rousseau citations refer to the following
This content downloaded on Wed, 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
Good Life (University Park. 1978). Jeffrey Smith. 4. NH: University Press of New Dialogues (hereafterD). understanding xi. Nature. JonathanMarks. ou Les (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. and Infancy in Rousseau's Emile. Charles St.252 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS exemplary figures?the solitary walker of the Reveries and Emile. 2002). 1990). Reveries of the Solitary E. The persist ence of the problem of self-knowledge in Rousseau's it clear thought makes that he was more concerned with presenting a comprehensive depiction of human problems than he was with teaching us how to solve them. to Bordes. Imperfect Garden: The Legacy on the French text in Oeuvres Gallimard. trans. Judith R. trans. Victor Gourevitch case of Emile et Sophie. Emile. Marks. and Discourse on theOrigins and Foundations of Inequality Among Men (hereafter SD). are my own. " Polity 35 I agree with Marks on this point. whereas natural. as both Cooper and Marks recognize arguments of Cooper This content downloaded on Wed. 2Tzvetan (Princeton: Princeton University Press. based translations ES) (hereafter and Marcel vol. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books. 2005). Christopher Kelly (Hanover. NH: University Press Walker (hereafterR). Laurence Cooper. ed. trans. and Marks are Happiness. Rousseau. trans. 1979). Cosman Raymond (Paris: Manuscript and Political Economy. "Geneva Manuscript. 3). and Roger D. I argue that attention to the problem of self-knowledge is essential to understanding the rank order of Rousseau's fivemajor human types?the citizen. This approach toRousseau builds on the insights of recent scholarship into the importance of the development of our natural capacities to Rousseau's view called of the good life. 2005). the bourgeois. 4. Carol (2002): 93.Including theLetters to Malesherbes. 23). NH: University Press of New England. Martin's Press. Emile. There is an important difference between Cooper's and Marks's views of in that Marks believes Rousseau's Cooper does make not (Cooper. Emile. In the Solitaires completes. and Other Writings on History and Politics. 1997)." Emile centrality of what (D. Confessions (hereafterC) in The Confessions and Correspondence. "Natural of Humanism. Sensation. Masters (Hanover. 1997). 1999). Constitutional Project for Corsica. trans. 3. and theProblem of the A. Judge of Jean-Jacques: R. and thus refer to the capacities to be developed as I should clear that the "Emilist" not subject to the critique Iwill make of Todorov.2 According Rousseau a central thatproblem. and Disharmony. or on Education (hereafter E)." Discourse on the of New England. Christopher Kelly and Judith R. Judith England. On the Government of Poland. Butterworth (Indianapolis: Hackett. trans. 1995). trans. in The Discourses and Other Early Political Writings. 181. and Jean-Jacques." "Last Reply. trans. Bernard Gagnebin Todorov. Of theSocial Contract (hereafter SC) in The Social Contract and Other Later Political Writings. Christopher Kelly. and the concordant "his greatest and best book. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. natural man. trans. 1969)." inOn theSocial Contract with Geneva Bush. Perfection and Disharmony in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1992). Rousseau. I further argue that self-knowledge remains stubbornly problematic even forRousseau's most translations: "Preface to a Second Letter Sciences and the Arts (hereafterFD). Masters (New York: Bibliotheque de la Pleiade. PA: Penn State University Press. of nature Perfection is teleological. Rousseau. Bush (Hanover. in The Plan for Perpetual Peace.
on the other. Perfection Disharmony." Todorov argues. makes the same error when remarks "It is in giving himself completely to [the feeling of existence] that civilized man This content downloaded on Wed. are There three variants of this error among contemporary interpreters. 172-81. Happiness: Essay 3Marks. on Rousseau.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 253 place to Emile and its description of the proper cultivation of the human intel lect corrects the impression Rousseau gives of himself in the two Discourses. 2001). where he sometimes seems to be an enemy of philosophy (ED. The opposite interpretive error is to suppose that the solitary walker rep resents the definitive pinnacle of Rousseau's thought. as some commentators have supposed ("Preface of a Second Letter to Bordes. that allows us to avoid the interpretive mistake of supposing knowledge Rousseau's "sad and great System" resolves into a single best way of life.Natural Right and History [Chicago: University of Chicago Press. John T. elements" of the it does not require a sacrifice of either solitary or social other two. and Jean-Jacques and Emile."5 on limitations of the Emilist project that escape Todorov's notice: see Cooper. because "uncertain happiness. Laurence "it writes that is Rousseau whom Cooper Jean-Jacques puts forth as the more human To be is moderate than Todorov sure." 108). in their emphasis Emile. seem to me rightly to correct Leo Strauss's overemphasis of the Second Discourse (Strauss. it "alone holds a promise of happiness. Tzvetan the mistake of supposing Emile to represent an Todorov makes essentially complete human life. Scott and Robert he D. however. In this vein. the citizen and natural man. highest Cooper type. Second. SD. and. it becomes clear that the citizen understanding is a lesser human the type than either Jean-JacqUes or Emile. attention to the problem of self life for Rousseau. Rousseau. or even multiple internally complete ways of life. the solitary life described in the Reveries. and 38-51. but none life. because citizen lacks self-knowledge. Todorov's description of Rousseau's system fails to mark the distinction between the citizen.. 25-26. are not finally ideals by showing that no self-ignorant life can be a fully human At the same time. Leo Strauss almost trans.. Rousseau. This "third way. All of these authors. his flaws become apparent. 18. When we ask the question of how well Emile knows himself. the happy if fragile life of Emile. as Iwill argue below. When we see that self-knowledge is central to Rousseau's of the good life. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 264). 153). Marks. in the middle. on the one hand. 70. 1953]. Frail An 4Todorov."4 seems tome to contain two fun Todorov's conceptualization of Rousseau errors: damental First. "integrates .3 Attention to the problem of self-knowledge affirms the view that the human types portrayed in the Discourses. 5Cooper." theless possible. 173. Todorov describes three ways of life as the focal points of Rousseau's thought: the social life of the citizen. Todorov overestimates the perfection of Emile. Zaretsky (UniversityPark: Pennsylvania State University Press. Perfectionand Disharmony.
292. These defects.6 Inmy view. and that both Emile and the solitary walker lack the complete psychic unity Melzer attributes to them. Melzer. For Melzer. "Introduction" that these to Emile [New York: Basic Books. 28). on thenext page. or tension the between the individ The human problem. that has been described ual and society. Bloom. Natural This content downloaded on Wed. 3. such as Arthur Melzer. Natural Right and History. self-knowledge. Natural the he and the solitary walker's "bad conscience. but that from the point of view of self-knowledge. when he describes size below (NaturalRight andHistory. 1979]. Attention to the problem of self-knowledge us to grasp overlook. Rousseau the wholehearted describes Discourses. make it impossible to judge him decisively superior to Emile. the solitary walker. is an aspect of Rousseau's thought can see this problem the two We clearly by examining frequently. the on the other. presents self-consciously of human perfection rather than one?or many?complete models models it clear that the makes of human perfection." 28. and Emile. 90."7 in the light of the problem of self-knowledge. Strauss correctshimself. the problem with Jean-Jacques is not merely that he is exceptional. Goodness. When viewed it clear that the self-ignorant citizen is too flawed to be counted Rousseau's among highest human types. Rousseau problem of self-knowledge persists even at the highest levels of human excel becomes lence known to him. and the citizen." a point Iwill empha 8Like Melzer between when Contract allows describes and Todorov. in that he acknowledges that this highest human type is not a solution for all of us. In what completesthe return to theprimitive state of nature on the level of humanity" (Natural Right andHistory. Iwill argue. 6ibid. 7Melzer. By so doing. the "vertical" dimension of Rousseau's thought commen solitary tators 9Strauss. emphasis added). has substantial defects. Other commentators. he. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . however. however. Jean-Jacques the citizen of the Social between "somewhere Reveries" (Bloom. 255. like Emile. the distinction in levels citizen.8 In my two partial Rousseau his readers with view. however. because his life is beyond the reach ofmost men. each of these types attains a kind of perfection with respect to "the formal standard of psychic unity or noncontradiction.254 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS solutions in Rousseau's thought. Iwill describe Rousseau's thought in terms of two related as I to will the human which refer problem and the problem of problems. "Introduction. describe not one but many The Human Problem and the Problem of Self-Knowledge follows. and standing of the Goodness. including Emile. Allan Bloom fails to mark on Emile the one as hand.9 In the First Discourse. 293).
to the mind with to the celestial strides. (FD. way. such as the Athenians. Arthur Goldhammer like to the Sun. as a central 10Jean Starobinski. or the life of the philosopher. it will turn out that this science stands in tension with the first of Rousseau's exemplary human such as. and his end. to raise himself above himself. (FD. emphasis added) The study of oneself. community. As the discourse proceeds. 66.to dispel by the lights of his reason the dark ness in which nature had enveloped him. what of the expanse is grander and more (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. the citizen. on the one hand. trans. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . realms. incompatible with each other. to return intohimself. Rebecca Balinski Transparency 1995). the Spartans or the early types. of natural These selfishness innocent. who "spent their lives arguing about the sovereign good. on the other.thereto study difficult his duties. then. Rousseau thus introduces knowledge. particularly knowledge us to his understanding of the human problem only in conjunction with the problem of self-knowledge. vice and virtue" (FD. to traverse the vast Giant writes: soar by Universe man and toknow his nature. encountered more knowledgeable peoples. Citizens. 11). if or lack of psychic division a in in their formal sense. matic treatment of the conflict between wholehearted social life and whole hearted solitary life. and Obstruction. the study of ourselves. division. of Liberalism. Rousseau observes. "transparency" only in part by their lack of is Because their constituted (?. Rousseau in the form of this tension between self-study and civic virtue. Pierre Manent. An Intellectual History trans.Rousseau It is a grand and a fine spectacle to see man go forthas itwere out of nothing by his own efforts. they of the Discourses presents a the neither however. yet poles resemble each other. Rousseau that study the queen of the sciences. still. indeed.10 goodness an in obvious are. Natural Goodness. was not consistent with the civic virtues they morals and learned to disdain their teaching" prized: "[T]hey considered their the is not one-sided: that text also cele First Discourse Nonetheless. making clear that Rousseau regards the possibility that "science and virtue" are incompatible as a tragic thus identifies the problem of self-knowledge. 1988). and. 11). 254. possibility (FD. xii. In the firstparagraph of that text. (Princeton: Princeton University Press. This content downloaded on Wed.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 255 sociability of the citizen. Romans. The theme of the First Discourse is the tension between perfect sociability. 12). Rousseau man. Instead. or the life of the citizen. brates the exemplary self-knowledge of Socrates. is singled out by Rousseau as "grander and more seems to consider difficult" than the study of the heavens. 90. But they saw that the study of human things. In the Second Discourse.Melzer. each Discourse describes the tension between ? one of these ways of life the quest for citizenship or solitude?with of ourselves. and the quest forknowledge. 6. 39-40). who dedicates himself fully to the good of his describes the wholehearted. Interestingly enough.
The Second Discourse begins at the opposite extreme. By understanding we can come to a clearer view of the whole this compound problem. thus stands the citizen. 184). 25. on the other. With the reference to the Delphic inscription.12 Beyond city as a whole oneself necessarily these goods conflicts with self-knowledge." self-knowledge as in the tension which stands with the that is themati emerges good good man in in that state treated book?the solitude of the of nature. emphasis added). 124. 143). therefore. cally happy "The more we acquire new sciences. "know on the first page of that discourse. We can now understand the goods both levels of the problem more fully. each of (?. foreign self-knowledge oneself also involves reckoning with our individual finitude and our soli to dedication and. Rousseau. the more we take from ourselves the means of acquiring themost important science of all. 12Cooper. This way of understanding Rousseau's thought indicates that he regards neither natural man nor the citizen as a genuinely exemplary human type. Natural Goodness.Rousseau blamed the antiphilosophic remarks of the Second Discourse on Diderot's influence (C. The conflict between known to the citizen and to natural man stems from the regard toward oneself intrinsic to each of these ways of life: it is because natural man is he does not compare himself to others. that his soul is alone. It is because that he can experience his existence as extended over his denominator" their conflict with each other.11 The problem of self-knowledge Ifwe natural among society of both Discourses. because able to "[yield] itself entirely to the sentiment of its present existence" the citizen is a "fractional unity dependent on the (SD. 326 n). sociability of these goods and self-knowledge. Knowing in the involves the use of intellectual faculties that are only developed man. pity acknowledges "philosophers" the "small number of good things" gained by the advent of civil is thus the basic theme (SD. 39). and the tension between each other. 104. of Rousseau's system thought. that of perfect solitude. and it is in a sense by force of studying man thatwe have put ourselves out of condition to know him" (SD. Self-knowledge the community that characterizes in tension with these two already conflicting goods. The Second Discourse is not simply a one to natural man at the expense of the science Rousseau sided paean here does accuse philosophy celebrates: while Rousseau of destroying are in that he later that work. or the lifeof natural man. Knowing to is natural thus social world. 11Inhis Confessions. Melzer. This content downloaded on Wed. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . once again thyself. take the two Discourses together. threatens the wholehearted tary pleasures.256 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS problem of his thought from the very firstpage of his firstpublished work of philosophy. we stand in the presence of the tension between absolute solitude and absolute of the compound problem on one with each the hand.
They will have to become the bourgeois in order to learn frontispiece." Corsica.. Natural 233.13 This clearly differentiates the citizen from Rousseau's genuinely exemplary types. SD. embodying goods The much-maligned bourgeois. is in a experiencing a mean how between individualism and collectivism Rousseau peoples"?who "oscillate" between the goods of solitude and those of society?that to understand This content downloaded on Wed.15 is possible without and that the acquisition of self self-knowledge it. 178). the tary deception). one country left in Europe capable of receiving legislation. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . is deeply flawed. 78). A third indication of the necessary self-ignorance of the citizen can be seen in his acceptance in a blatant act of deception (albeit salu of the revealed religion promulgated. ship Emile.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 257 Natural man. 15I say the first Marks major Rousseauvian character to feel this tension: Jonathan has rightly pointed to the importance of "the state reached by most savage highlights in the Second Discourse (Marks. the citizen is by definition one of the people. As Marks implies. 61. R. is the firstmajor Rousseauvian character to experience the human problem. the self-knowledge of these savage peoples. The citizen. too. That the citizen ignores the Rousseau acknowledges goods has of goods solitary happiness already been shown. by legislator (SC.14 being good life. the problem con stituted by the tension between the citizen's virtue and natural man's happiness. SD. while superior to that of natural man or the citizen. in that they allow themselves to change inways thatwill lead them beyond their happy state "without thinking of it" (Perfection and Disharmony. 235. better position who returns to defend "It may be that the man of savagery: to savage life after civilized life. the "blind multitude. 63. citizenship of the Spartan woman described in 13Melzer. 70-71). Emile and Jean-Jacques: the former is not taught revealed religion and the latter does not embrace it (E. 14Ibid. ignores that Rousseau acknowledges to be real. he is one cannot teach citizenship tomen who have left it behind indicating that The wholehearted (SC. as a direct consequence of his nature as a solitary and a "stupid and limited animal/' ignores the virtuous sociability and the self-knowledge to be good (SC 53). "often does not know it wants because what it rarely knows what is good for it" (Geneva Rather than models of the Manuscript. that he lacks self in a number of is is but indicated by Rousseau less apparent. knowledge the of the theme of First Discourse indicates that citizen First basic all. Perfection and Disharmony. 27-40). states that "there is threaten when would Rousseau knowledge Secondly. ways. according to Rousseau." which. 313. 40). who unhesitatingly prefers her country to her children. is only possible that comes with awareness of prior to the experience of human dividedness the variety of genuine goods known to man (E. surprisingly enough. Goodness. 164). however. natural man and the citizen are extreme types that make the problematic character of our life clear by to certain the exclusion of others. 167). Finally.
as Arthur lary types because of their highly cultivated faculties. Rousseau celebrates natural man and the citizen in an attempt to teach the to know himself. few European the political intention of encouraging citizenship in those it remained an option and (Melzer.16 Rather. 16This forward the remark from to tization of Rousseau's citizen from the Dialogues indicates another the problem precede thought in Frail Happiness: Todorov lists the citizen as a way of the Rousseau whereas bourgeois. he will never be eitherman or citizen. He will be good neither forhimself nor for others. He will be one of these men of our Always in contradiction with Englishman. either Emile or the solitary dreamer of the autobiographical writings. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . he is in the grips of the human problem. The bourgeois and his experience of the problem of human division constitute a threshold that must be crossed before self is possible. Recognizing the importance of this threshold allows knowledge us to see that Rousseau does not celebrate natural man and the citizen in an attempt to encourage us to return to either of those states: Rousseau knows that "human nature does not go backward" (D. I follow the teleological reading of Rousseau suggested byMarks and Smith. aesthetically. 17Ido not mean to suggest that the only purpose of Rousseau's was to teach celebration of the Melzer Natural points out. Goodness. Marks points to the following passage fromEmile as In describing Emile the solitary walker This content downloaded on Wed. himself. Rousseau also avowed peoples Rousseau. 18). 63-64). in his one-way account the bourgeois clearly understands of human history problem with Todorov's schema citizen (Todorov. geois: These two characters are distinguished as Rousseau's truly exemplary men can be preserved in the face of the inevitable and not in itself undesirable cultivation of thehuman faculties" (Perfection and Disharmony. 18Cooper. a bourgeois. (?. D. Nonetheless. to become self-conscious of the bourgeois predicament that defines his life (and ours): the predicament of trying to embrace the the goods of solitude and the goods of sociability without understanding contradictions between them. the bourgeois does not know himself and never experiences the genuine goodness of either solitary happiness or social virtue because he is so halfhearted in his pursuit of both. "Few human beings are as sublime or as and spiritually?as highly developed?mentally."18 To be sure.17 Rousseau describes two ways of transcending the problem of the bour the way of life of Emile and the way of life of the solitary walker. He will be nothing. as exemp to the bourgeois. in opposition to thenonteleolo gical reading offeredby Strauss. As Laurence Cooper writes. 213). Frail Happiness. 213). an by their highly cultivated understanding. morally. self-knowledge for whom xiii-xiv. 271.258 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS He who in the civil orderwants topreserve theprimacy of the sentiments of nature does not know what he wants. particularly self-understanding. 40) days: a Frenchman. always floating between his inclinations and his duties.
our human predicament necessitates that we choose For Rousseau." contrast 93-94. strong evidence his of Rousseau's have to be seen wholly progress seen. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . have to have been natural man "[Natural man] his would have to be known" only and in man's in his origins ?that his nature is fully revealed development?not of one's whole is possible the "enjoyment (Smith. 19Marks. Right and History. Perfectionand Disharmony. and in their attempts to recover the goods that bourgeois dividedness destroys.. The persistence of the human problem self-aware characters. teleological formed: his inclinations would development followed. Emile's self-knowledge whereas is more solitary. Oscillation. Both of Rousseau's models exemplify self-knowledge awareness of the human problem. of elements of both. in turn. that the human problem persists even in the lives of his in these most exemplary men. and both transcend the problem of the bourgeois. 1. It is thus This content downloaded on Wed. as is indi would observed. and neither knows himself fully. but neither resolves the human problem is more sociable. This is not to say that a life through to some degree. "Natural being" Happiness.20 But the bourgeois also oscillates. As I will argue below. indicates that self-knowledge will remain for both. Perfection 20Ibid. Only self-knowledge can prevent one from attempting imposs ible combinations of conflicting goods. both Emile and Jean-Jacques problematic can be said to know themselves inmeaningful ways. Jonathan Marks cannot partake. out all good lives "oscillate" between sociable that forRousseau rightly points and solitary goods. Marks. He thereby indicates. understanding of nature: In a word. elements of It is only via a self-aware attempt to grasp the "disharmonious" full human happiness can be the good life that anything even approximating in solitude only through a self attained. Emile finds happiness a self-conscious sacrifice of solitude. that of describes cated when Rousseau Emile and that of Jean-Jacques. 38). that very distinc Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge as models tion already their incompleteness indicates of self-aware human flourishing. between conflicting goods as well as attempt to combine them. is not the sufficient criterion of the good life forRousseau. 100-101. 41. as I will argue in detail below. Strauss. (E. therefore. and this oscillation contributes to his inability to derive satisfaction either from himself or from two ways of knowing ourselves. others. 7. The remainder of this paper will be devoted to describ of soci system as models ing the two highest human types in Rousseau's able and solitary self-knowledge and to explaining the virtues and limits of each of these two ways of understanding ourselves. and Disharmony.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 259 This high degree of moral and intellectual cultivation allows Emile and and the that natural man the self-knowledge Jean-Jacques to develop in their citizen lack. Natural 266).19 The solitary walker finds happiness in social life only conscious sacrifice of social life.
30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . "the success of the that the objects of legislation be independent. 22Ibid. he also makes a self-conscious choice in favor of virtue (E. to his family. 449). 76. self-knowledge sociability superior to the sociability of the citizen. who typically regards his social duties as arbitrary con straints imposed by external authorities. as the citizen does. 221). bourgeois His also makes his cing independence.260 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS The Sociable Self-Knowledge of Emile Emile knows himself in the sense that he is aware of the human problem. incomplete nature to do so (E. as Jonathan Marks has shown in a more political context.22 Emile isnot sheltered from dependency and obligation as a child so as to be immune to the claims of duty as a man. it is only the highly independent who can become the adult Emile who wholeheartedly embraces his sociable duties. sexual. (E. to a lesser extent. His him superior to the makes self-knowledge awareness Emile's of the human bourgeois: problem prevents him from ima as can the that he embrace social lifewithout sacrifi does. gining. His self-knowledge differs from the self-knowledge of the solitary walker in that his most important experiences are social and moral and that he understands himself in a fundamentally social and moral way It is with the of the walker that the through comparison self-knowledge solitary come of Emile's will into view. Emile's introduction to duty is own. Emile's 21Ibid.While it is true that Emile is raised as a solitary until puberty. he regards his social life and the duties that come with it in a fundamentally different way than civil man. fakers. 91). given that in the entirety of the first three books of Emile. Emile sees the duties to others that come with sociability as an (?. carefully delayed so thatwhen he embraces it."21 social contract demands Just as "proud and untamed" men are the only suitable raw material of Rousseauvian child Emile citizenship. inadequacies self-knowledge One might object to my description of Emile as fundamentally sociable. to his reason The Rousseau begins the education of a fun 424.. Emile not only manifests virtue. 473). rather. and. and liars." whereas Emile becomes a law unto himself (E. Because he expression of his moral freedom and his self-knowledge knows both the extent and the limits of his own self-sufficiency. he is raised to exem plify solitary self-sufficiency. for Emile embraces his obligation to others because he understands that it is fitting for a being with a mortal. 167. country human sociable damentally type by educating him for solitude is that. This content downloaded on Wed. 441.he will regard it as his a to cultivated and then discov having Having self-sufficiency splendid peak ered its limits.. Civil men thus become "dissemblers. That awareness leads Emile to attempt to transcend the problem of the bourgeois in the direction of sociability. 89). his adult character is fundamentally sociable: his basic concerns are with his duties tomankind. 76.
the deeper point of that reading is the "gradual introduction of a mirror of himself as he would sociality." The Review This content downloaded on Wed.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 261 good for?"24 Emile will embrace sociability only when he can answer that the antiphilosophic citizen would never even question for himself. or passive is awakened dependen and pro self-aware sociability is thus profoundly superior to the self-ignorant and half-hearted sociability of the bourgeois. As he extends his relations. the heart of Emile lies in the lessons Emile learns about himself from the middle of book three onward. needs. While both the citizen and Emile wholeheartedly embrace their social duties. 215-27). and vulnerability he shares with all men. "what is society can. a man whose he self-sufficiency self-consciously emulates. As Denise Schaeffer has pointed out. While the arrival of sexuality and sociability enables Emile to step outside himself and see himself for the first time. "subject to the miseries of life. present a formidable obstacle to cies. lessons that will lead him to choose knowingly his obligations to others over solitary self-sufficiency. 2:18). 227).mortality. incompleteness. 132. 357. because 23Denise ofPolitics 64 (2002): 122. which self-knowledge. in sociable His education self-knowledge begins with his reading of Robinson Crusoe.. 24Ibid. The most basic lessons of Emile's sociable self-knowledge concern the sexu ality.. connections and and his active with others . content and never which [A]mour-propre. could this be. Genesis. He discovers his fragility and sex and the connection between and death (E. only Emile does so in a self-aware way. This experience "transport[s] him out of compassion himself" and gives him a vantage point fromwhich to view his human con dition."23 In Crusoe. to sorrows. duces makes the sentiment the sentiment comparisons. Emile encounters like to be. reference by Robinson Crusoe thus serves to plant in Emile the question. of his his needs. whereas ask such a question. Schaeffer. As Emile's burgeon ing sexual desires make him feel the firstdefect inhis self-sufficiency. of duties is never preferences. it also introduces amour-propre. The tutor thus uses the emergence of sexual neediness to lead Emile to take his first look at himself. "The Utility of Ink: Rousseau and Robinson Crusoe. and pains of every kind" (?.. With respect to the question of self-knowledge. This is the fundamental maxim of Emile's sociable self-knowledge. 222). of course. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . The conclusion he is to draw from these lessons is that "it is not good for man to be alone" (?. And a man with many sociable that model of is social very yet self-sufficiency traits that Emile cannot understand to his own experience. ills. while Emile's reading of Defoe's book certainly encourages him to cultivate his capacity for self sufficiency. the tutor introduces him to the fact of death and puts him in circumstances that inspire for others (E.
selves produces pride" (Constitutional Project for Corisca. His compatible. to themselves. 28Ibid. "I rejoice because they self-knowledge and amour-propre him that his condition as a man teaches self-knowledge can that embrace he makes sociability natural. Republicanism/' Polity 37 (2005): 250. Maloy."29. Rousseau. proud or vain: distinctions that rest on a true or false of the human condition (E. because it is based in reality. (E. the tutor conducts Emile's education on the basis of the premise that amour-propre is "inevitable.262 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS sentiment. Pride. Emile has the former: [Emile] will be quite gratified to be approved in everything connected with good character. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . J.. He will not precisely say to himself. This content downloaded on Wed. 214). "The Very Order of Things: Rousseau's Tutorial The fact that Emile possesses real merit allows him to see his condition clearly even though he has amour-propre. form of the need to combine a gratifying comparative view of oneself with a true view of oneself. 154). whereas vanity is a form of self-delusion.S. "the most basic polarity within the universe of amour between the two in his Constitutional distinguishes propre. and his immunity from factitious passions. also demands others to prefer us insatiable character of amour-propre makes us highly prone to self delusion once it is born. 213) preferring ourselves to others. sociability because he knows an in the social world. As Emile begins "to study himself in his relations with men. honorable place himself to occupy as to but mortal?immune himself excellent of Emile's knowledge his sociable but fundamentally needy?grounds unnecessary dependency virtue. 27Cooper. however. 245). 162. see also 120. his pride allows the tutor to concentrate his sexual imagination on a others (E. 26lbid." how he sees himself relative to others will determine whether The he is gentle or cruel. As Cooper has pointed out. highly cultivated Emile rightly fares very well in his own eyes when he compares himself to 25Cooper. Emile's education thus makes Rousseau. His awareness of his incompleteness leads him to accept the necessity of a mate."26 With the of the "wholesomeness" of amour-propre takes the question knowledge. Rousseau which Corsica: "The opinion puts great value on frivolous objects Project for one that falls the upon objects great and beautiful by them produces vanity."25 The goal of Emile's education is. "to shape [amour a form as propre] into as wholesome respect to self possible.. "I rejoice because approve ofwhat I have done that is good/' (E.which is impossible. 160-72. is a form of self-knowledge. his faculties.27 understanding will develop The crucial question with respect to amour-propre iswhether it as pride or as vanity. therefore. Because of his excellent education. 339) they approve of me/' but rather.
" he says (?. 449). 54). The self-knowledge of Emile is "good witness of oneself. nor natural man. virtuous companion culminates when he returns from his travels with his tutor and sociability embraces his sociable bond to Sophie as his own. as an aspect of his nature. he accepts duty as an expression of his freedom. father. Emile. At least ever bear. Instead. "A wife and a field that belong to him are enough for the wise man's happiness.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 263 (E.but he loves "as a mortal and perish able being" who understands himself to be "in possession of fragile goods. ever could. Emile sacrifices immediate to marriage a so as to fulfill to tutor his He sacri this (E. If Iwere without passions. Emile's education in self-knowing single. 80-105." as will be the case with Jean-Jacques (E. Come free. 444). and inmy condition as a man. he is good only insofar as he is naturally good. give me Sophie. it is supported by the Vicar's natural religion. based on his understanding of his nature: This. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . (E. thus knowingly embraces sociability. in it. Savoyard which takes as its firstprinciple a maxim of self-knowledge: "[T]o accept as to which in the evident all knowledge sincerity of my heart I cannot refuse my consent" (?. be independent likeGod himself. As we will explore below. 444-45). however. 337). in that he can regard himself as "he who knows how to conquer his affections" so as to "follow his reason and his con science" (E. Emile's is both the knowledge of his capacity self-knowledge for "moral freedom" and the pride he takes in his to live up to the ability duties that come with that freedom (SC. 81). but virtuous (?. my want only what destiny. His love does not require the support of a dubious revealed religion. ismy chosen course. not as delayed gratification.29 Emile's "good witness of himself" differs from that of Jean-Jacques. he thus shows himself to be aware of the need to sacrifice selfish desire so as to fulfill social obli gation in a way neither the bourgeois. his defining act of moral dignity. 457). Iwould. This content downloaded on Wed. Emile knows himself as a limited but free being 29Cooper. 270). He loves Sophie and his young family as the citizen loves his city. 446). Jean-Jacques is free only in the sense that he follows his own inclinations rather than the opinions of men. Rousseau. as does the citizen's. 473-74) Emile to struggle against one I shall It is the only and I am then. Sophie promise experiences fice as a genuine sacrifice. rises above his inclinations to become "really free" and can thus regard himself as "his own master": Emile is not In merely good. which the citizen lacks." which gives his love "a voluptuousness that nothing can disturb" (?. Emile thus experiences what is good about the citizen's sociability?the sublime ability to command oneself and to choose self-sacrifice for the Emile's sociability is guided by his larger whole?but self-knowledge. nor Jean-Jacques. 329. for Iwould is and therefore would never have I have I can no more glory than one chain. by contrast.
316. after Emile has met the real Sophie. Reverie takes place in a situation of idleness or "precious far niente" (R. exercise. As Emile and the tutor travel from Paris to the countryside where they will meet Sophie. nothing" and "we are sufficient unto ourselves" 2. Emile's way of life includes only an incomplete form of the solitary happiness known to the solitary walker. Reverie Emile experiences the firstof these three elements but not the other two. 412). 437). 52). Furthermore. Reverie consists in the free flight of the imagination: "My reveries some times end up inmeditation. crucial that he has some experience of the satisfactions of solitude. His because experience of the satisfactions of solitude is incomplete. the tutor remarks that the Sophie-in-speech they have been discussing will be "forgot ten before we have gone fiftyleagues": Emile will forget himself in furthering his scientific knowledge through the opportunities afforded by travel (E. 432). so that "time is (R. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and movement have become so necessary to him that he could not give them up without suffering" (E. idleness and the free flight of the imagination are necessarily from indulging in idleness at to him. we know that Emile has "a common mind" (E. Emile is thus cut off by habit and nature from the full experience of the solitary This defect of breadth in Emile's experience is an important hole in his self and marks the incompleteness of his life. Emile has been prevented foreign least since puberty (E. because only a being that knows such satisfactions could be said to embrace sociability in a self-knowing way. 68-69). Emile does not know how to be idle. 81. Emile can become absorbed in his work or in his scientific investigations in a manner that allows him to forget time and others. involves loss of awareness of time and others. Todorov's defense of knowledge happiness. 91). 320). 64). 3. walker's This content downloaded on Wed. Emile's has been care a fully smothered in childhood and later narrowly channeled into particular erotic dream (E. By the time he is an adult.however. it is incomplete in two important ways. 1. 329). Later. to the extent that imagination is a natural quality. "so busy with what he is doing that he does not It is knows that much of Jean-Jacques's experience of solitary happiness. Emile shop.work with his hands. and during these wanderings my soul rambles and glides through the universe on the wings of imagination in ecstasies that surpass every other enjoyment" (R. "the active life. however. A brief discussion of three elements of the experience of reverie will make clear what Emile shares of Jean-Jacques's experience and what he misses.With respect to the imagination. reverie. but more frequently my meditations end up in reverie. she famously finds him in his work see her" (E. As impressive as Emile's self-knowledge is.264 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS whose freedom allows him to live up to the obligations his dependency causes him to contract.
which is problematic. by contrast. of course. This understanding allows the tutor to govern Emile's soul with great precision. thereby uniting "subjection" "the freedom" with of Emile's limited under (E. 31Cooper. 16. Rousseau. Cooper points out that. from his pupil's that is standpoint. while appearing. "the 'errormost to be feared' is an error of attribution: that Emile will attribute to himself things that in fact are the products of his tutor's work. who stakes even more on Emile than "facile optimism" rather than a text that sheds new Garden. I felt myself struck by a fatal impression that I had never previously felt. 168. an immensely sophisticated understanding of another however. Emile takes her to Paris. Emile. The second and more immediately consequential defect of Emile's self concerns his understanding of moral freedom. 480). appearance "perfect" standing of necessity does not include the complex relations of psychic cause and effect that the tutorhas been using to govern him while leaving him appar 32 ently free His understanding of his own moral freedom."30 Everything reverie of experience in Rousseau's description of reverie. mentions it only as a light on Emile as a whole warning against This content downloaded on Wed. therefore. to do almost nothing. Emile's ignorance of the degree to which his freedom is in fact the in the light of the necessi circumstances his tutor has managed of product ties of psychic cause and effect leads to disaster in Emile and Sophie. knows something about necessity. 69). Insofar as self most of the entails important human possibilities. 32Smith. Happiness. knowledge knowledge a reverie constitutes of Emile's significant failure of his ignorance self-knowledge. 205). possesses kind of necessity: he understands psychic cause and effect. knowledge as to the tutor has been meticulously controlling Emile's environment so form his character. for Emile. "Natural Imperfect Garden."31 Although Emile at times the degree acknowledges his debt to the tutor. 33NeitherCooper norMarks nor Smith gives serious attention to Emile and Sophie. he could hardly understand to which his character is the product of carefully contrived circumstances? that is. 431). suggests that it is nothing less than a fundamental human experience (R. 91)." and accepts such necessities as human death (E.33 To distract Sophie from the grief into which she falls upon the death of her daughter and parents. 120). (Todorov. The most sad presentiments rose up in my 30Todorov. or the "springs" that drive human action (E. Imperfect they do. of the tutor's application of his own knowledge of natural necessity (E. He feels a touch of worry: In approaching the capital. given how much weight they put on Emile." 104. 112. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . From the outset. His tutor. in that he has learned to bear "the harsh yoke of necessity under which every finite being must bend.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 265 Emile as the one best way for Rousseau depends on his degradation of the as a "mere personal taste of the author. Todorov. is flawed.
It does not seem tome that Rousseau shows us these defects in Emile's at such to he has described that the character indicate self-knowledge a lie. therefore. his pride in his virtue and in that of his wife. I dismissed this judgment of prudence that I took for a vain presentiment. This content downloaded on Wed. . 886). That partiality will come hensive but partial?more more fully into view when we examine its complement. supposes it is not compre is frail because I have argued that Emile's self-knowledge sociable than solitary. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Iwas afraid of exposing so pure a union and ofmyself. It was from the bosom of peace and of virtue you who her into the abyss of vice and misery into which you threw dragged to so many dangers that could alter it. knowledge all human possibilities could which no life that does not encompass is aware. of the contingency of his reflect. he went to Paris in search of Sophie. the self-knowledge of the solitary walker. himself.." as Todorov whereas Todorov suggests. His freedom existed within circumstances tutor in trolled by the the light of the latter's understanding of psychic cause and effect. Because he does not fully recognize the role the necessities of psychic cause and effect played in the formation of his character. He virtue. or rather the image of Sophie his tutor had created forhim. that leads him to disdain the idea that unfavorable circumstances that this might corrupt Sophie. the tragic course of Emile and Sophie indicates that even the most self-aware sociable man will be prone to an excess of pride in his own and thus indicates that Emile's self-knowledge good character. Nonetheless. Emile understands his his is sexuality. length living that are born from those traits. his youthful virtue was dependent on the guidance of his tutor. in one sense.266 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS breast: all that I had seen. human that Emile represents a comprehensive. however. every reason to be confident. ideal. In particular. all thatyou had toldme of great citiesmade me tremble for [Sophie's] visit there. he had been to Paris as a bachelor and had maintained his virtue in the face of the temptations of the capital. However. ES. But his life is kind of man his conscience and pride demand more sociable than solitary.. 896). happiness if fragile. After all. yourself" Of course. Emile's is bound up with an excessive confidence in his own moral self-knowledge freedom and virtue. thereby immunizing Emile against the attractions con of vice (?. As he realizes in hindsight. Emile concludes was of circumstance fatal to his marriage: it she "Was change who her]? asked you to take her from the fortunate place [where you found ..His self reflects his experience. or both. not the fullness of human experience. (ES.. Rousseau are "frail. 329. and. remains a partial life. Later. 885) It is Emile's amour-propre. Emile had. albeit not fully aware. sure of [Sophie] (ES. He under the sociability and obligation freedom and is able to make real sacrifices so as to be the stands moral that he be. and mortality.
1-5)." of apart from other men. In this. I still only felt myself as if "over there. He differs of solitary happiness is knowledge of amoral and asocial from Emile in that his self-knowledge an account he of and because amoral human pleasures gives activity. We see this in his description of his first reverie. which occurs after he is run down by a Great Dane while walking outside as follows: Paris. We cannot be "sufficient unto our moments selves. a few stars. He is superior in that he. He describes his return to consciousness I perceived the sky. Entirely whole in the present moment. I had no distinct notion ofmy self. 69). Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge makes his way of life superior to the life of it allows him to experience the goodness of natural man because solitary at the level of life intelligence. and as he botanizes.nor the least idea ofwhat had just happened tome. the pleasures natural man's solitude on his walks outside Paris. like Emile. Natural man enjoyed the sentiment of exist ence. I knew neither This content downloaded on Wed. Peter's Island. The theme of necessity will return below. the solitary walker embraces solitude in spite of an intense aware ness of the pleasures of sociability he is giving up. and makes best of it (R. At present. and a littlegreenery. the important point is that Jean-Jacques. at a higher level. includ own. like God" with anyone else (R. Itwould not be proper to of human speak of Jean-Jacques's choosing solitude. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . He recovers. "the most sociable and the most in which he stands describes a series of experiences loving of humans. for the understanding in the Reveries sharply elevates necessity over freedom. on St. entails social tary happiness superior to natural man the goodness of the experience because he knows himself?he understands that makes the life of natural man good.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 267 The Solitary Self-Knowledge of the Solitary Walker The solitary walker is aware of the human problem and attempts to trans cend the problem of the bourgeois in the direction of solitude. his This difference between and that of Emile his ing self-knowledge is also an incomplete model indicates that the solitary walker of self-knowledge. understands to the bourgeois the conflict between the the walker that human knows his experience of soli solitary genuine goods: a He is sacrifice of life. This firstsensation a delicious moment. and it seemed tome that I filled all the objects I perceived with my delicate existence." I was was born into life in that instant. I remembered nothing. he knows the simple but decisive thing that the bourgeois ignores. and he knows that the pleasures he enjoys at those can only be had in solitude. action presented it clear that he would have resisted isolation until the Jean-Jacques makes end of his days had itnot become clear to him that he had no hope of enjoy the ing human society again: he has been forced into solitude. but Jean-Jacques experiences itmore deeply because he experiences it in a self-conscious way. As Emile chooses sociability from a standpoint of highly cultivated inde pendence.
While this experience is. "The feeling of existence as Rousseau experienced it has a rich articulation which must have been lacking in the described as itwas experienced by man in the state of nature. Natural 292. comparative self-consciousness. 116). and History. which is precisely what happens when Rousseau his reveries: "This is a state which is brought back by being remembered soon cease to be aware. experience is deeper for the self-aware solitary than feeling the former is both able to experience it was for natural man." as Rousseau says. cited." by forgetting his propre. His self-knowledge in that he knows what is good about natural this experience enhances more fully than natural man man's life. what the experience all the more ravishing is to have that experience in a makes recalls self-conscious way. 35Of course. 15-16) Jean-Jacques thus recovers natural man's experience of yielding "entirely to the sentiment of [his] present existence" (SD. of amour-propre allows Jean-Jacques of the world This transcendence Emile's life from a supramoral to view social perspective. As Leo and Strauss writes. nor worry_I felt reverie and able to compare it to "the activity of known pleasures. I felt neither pain. in itself. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . "ravishing. and peaceful as though I had no more enemies or that the foliage of the woods must keep me from their attacks (R.268 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS who Iwas nor where in all my being a ravishing calm towhich. however. Essential to Jean-Jacques's recovery of the sentiment of existence is his renunciation of his social and and preferences. 111). and this allows him to experience it does. amour-propre (E. in part because he knows its goodness. every time I recall it. because Iwas. His experience of solitary just as it removes them frommy memory" or self-consciousness. injured pride destroys the sentiment of and vanity become silent in his solitude: "It seems tome that in the shade of a forest I am as forgotten. but Jean-Jacques's life is better. Jean-Jacques's knowledge of the goodness of the sentiment of existence redoubles its goodness. 143). free. 69. (R. comparisons Jean-Jacques among in the passage among just pleasures are not the same as amour-propre-laden comparisons This content downloaded on Wed. makes comparisons pleasures. 13)." which causes him to delight in its superiority over them. 99). I find nothing comparable in all the activity of known pleasures. Jean-Jacques begets as he repeatedly solitary happiness thatmakes him "sufficient unto [himself]" affirms (R. because beyond the dependency himself to be capable of a knows 213). Jean-Jacques The wounds of existence (R. or amour Right among men.35 "By renouncing comparisons overcomes that self-consciousness the divided social self. ifwe completely ceased and of which we would it" The (R."34 feeling of existence Natural man may have a good life. nor fear. 5. happiness permits his transcendence of comparative move that it allows him to amour-propre. Whereas sense to him live of duty and allows up to his self-knowledge reinforces his 34Strauss.
Rousseau. 81). but also himself. incited by their amour-propre and con they have so much strained by all their laws" (R. Jean-Jacques Reveries."36 as Emile's Viewed from beyond amour-propre. implies that are their association contaminated with law. Abandonment of the sense of human is at the center of agency as is in evident the of the Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge. however. a "particular attachment"?such "a factitious sentiment" rooted in a proud regard attachment to Sophie?seems toward oneself and one's beloved that attributes to each a dignity they do not. Jean-Jacques only necessity in all the misfortunes which befall him" (R. It is not. Jean-Jacques knows that he is no Emile: "[V]irtue consists in over coming [our inclinations] in order to do what duty prescribes.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 269 obligations. whom he learns to regard as a "purely passive being" (R. and amour-propre they by in account status this difference virtue Rousseau's of the of and Why duty in in Emile. in truth. freely and of myself. This content downloaded on Wed. Jean-Jacques is good. Eighth Walk in the book. his enterprise turns out to entail abandoning the belief in human the moral freedom central to Emile's self-understanding. 114). When Jean-Jacques tries to escape amour-propre in the Reveries. "good of the power of goodness by describing how he would behave ifpossessed He the of affirms that he conferred would practice invisibility by ring Gyges." in the the two works? Whereas Reveries." affirms. perhaps the most radical passage describes how he has ceased to hate his contemporaries by regarding them as "nothing more than automatons who [act] only on impulse and whose action I could calculate only from the laws of motion" (R. "The wise "sees the blows blind of man. but not virtuous or dutiful. and that his effort to "apply the bar ometer to [his] soul" consists in observing that cause and effect operating 36Cooper. amour-propre is seen as "inevitable. Furthermore. but also pride. There. and that is what I have been less able to do than any man in the world" (R. as products of his freedom. and without bearing the yoke of duty. toward his fellows "a universal and perfectly disinterested benevolence: but without ever forming any particular attachment. 120. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Jean-Jacques does not regard himself as a bad man?he on more He witness times: this his of himself" defends (at below). 77). Rousseau holds out the prospect ofmoving "beyond amour-propre. indeed. 155). Iwould do towards them. agency?including Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge repudiates not only vanity. Be has this as itmay. One might say that Jean-Jacques shares the tutor's grasp of psychic cause and effect. 172. the account Jean-Jacques here gives of virtue and duty. and. 115). the entire moral point of view that allows a human being to regard his actions as his own.possess (SD. which are at the heart of Emile's moral self-knowledge. all thatwhich trouble doing. The wise man does not get angry with his enemies because he does not regard them as acting freely. 114). only his enemies that Jean-Jacques comes to understand as governed by necessity.
116). for ithardly plays a role in any of this. unpleasant is good. sees only the bad itself and not any intention" (R. he also knows that experi its goodness and increases its self ence to be good. My ardent fiesme. Rousseau's ability to regard himself and is connected to the self-sufficiency he others as "purely passive beings" recovers when isolated from the community. slights. Rousseau ever set to to have foot there.270 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS within himself (R. which has determined his is fundamentally knowl the fates of others.Everything comes out the same when a natural but becomes calm again the instant thewind stops blowing. 120) temperament irritates me. Having attributed his ability to recover from anger to his reason." 70). Jean-Jacques's solitary self-knowledge takes him beyond the world of human agency as such. He because he ismorally free. 7). 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . freedom and blameworthiness acts of revenge. but because he is naturally good (R. He differs from Emile as well as fate based on knowledge of necessity. The solitary walker's self-knowledge. begins with his knowledge of of the experience of the sentiment of existence that can be the goodness found in solitary reverie. 214. (R. so isolated reaches a point of wilderness botanical excursions. precisely his position remaining see to himself without the amour outside of social life that allows Jean-Jacques from knowing the goodness of his own propre that prevents the bourgeois is ultimately in that his self-knowledge existence. as is Emile. of social self indicated above. on his transcendence But does he truly transcend amour-propre? During one of his consciousness. Unlike natural man. be the firstmortal that he imagines himself as he another Columbus. my indolent natural temperament paci changeable temperament is irritated by an impetuous wind.my reason! Iwould be verywrong tohonor it with this triumph. which enhances the bourgeois by not confusion of He the fundamental avoids sufficiency. whereas Emile's self-knowledge come with his sociable nature and the moral that the of obligations edge It is with respect to this freedom that allows him to fulfill his obligations. injustices are nothing for the person who. not unpleasant impulses and restore his psychic tranquility. then. 81-82. as of amour-propre. Even while he is enjoying this picture of himself This content downloaded on Wed. in the bad things he endures. he not only experiences the goodness of this fundamental sentiment of the self. Indeed. D. he quickly corrects himself: What am I saying. The validity of the solitary walker's view of human things depends. "Last Reply. at center of his lifewhile the that have that he could experience supposing it is in the social immersed world. because it is his independence from the community and its quarrels that liftshim above the sense of moral that animates those quarrels: "[OJffenses. difference between the solitary walker's self-knowledge and that of Emile that the defects in the solitary walker's self-knowledge will come into view. Not overcome his impulses to force himself to do only can Jean-Jacques not even deploy reason and freedom to correct his cannot he duties. insults.
ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 271 hears a noise from the other side of a thicket that sounds vaguely familiar. "Rousseau's Quixotic in the Reveries du promeneur in The Nature the "Reveries. inmy situation. self-ignorant form he says to himself. Scott. 18-19). vanity. A sizable portion of the Second Walk is devoted to explaining his treatment of Mme d'Ormoy (R. 493. The final words of the Tenth Walk to to Mme made back" de Warens "the Jean-Jacques "give help I had received from her" (R. In is this self-consciousness instance. in the midst of one of his most solitary moments. When 'without a doubt.38 In particular. John C. Lane. Others are frequently present even when Jean-Jacques thinks himself most alone. (R. and discovers a stocking "machine in the garden. since Iwas incapable of raising themmyself. This is not the only such defect in Jean-Jacques's self-understanding. I still shudder to think about it. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . what am I?" (R. Transparency and Obstruction. Rousseau glories in false accomplishment in the armor of Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge. Jean-Jacques's solitary amour-propre. 53). This content downloaded on Wed. go beyond mere Jean-Jacques example. every walk. explains his decision as follows: It was which fear of a fate worse surely most determined for them me and in this one otherwise Had almost I been inevitable indiffer would ent about what would become of them. His stated intention in the Reveries is towrestle with the question. he bursts through the thicket. John T. which is a justification of his decision to the most striking place his children in the foundling home. pp. Iwould do itagain. "with satisfaction. 1). 142)." as mill churning away just twenty feet from him?a were (R. 353. Quest solitaire. is at least partially concerned with Jean-Jacques's relations to others (R. 100). Studies on Voltaire and theEighteenth Century (SVEC)." of O'Neal. "But I. "Reverie and the Return to Nature: Rousseau and the 37Joseph Experience Review of Convergence. is perhaps one if not wonder does Here. 66)." ed." of Politics 68 (2005). Jean-Jacques frequently ruminates over the moral and social questions of whether he is a just man and has done his duties to them. his curiosity rouses him. tainted not merely by amour-propre but even by the bad. even the fifth.. if I had to do itagain.37 This experience captures inmetaphor a constant undercur it rent of the Reveries. I am the firstmortal to have penetrated thus far. and I placed them in it. 100). proceeding. of amour-propre. The Ninth Walk.. both literally and in terms of how he regards himself. I knew that the least perilous upbringing for themwas thatof the found linghome.'" he a thus lets us see a chink (R. 124) H. Rousseau a comparison that obviously flatters his compares himself to Columbus. who have made monsters of them. Iwould have had to let them be raised by theirmother. 2008:3. 38Starobinski. The Fourth Walk explains that man even an is honest Jean-Jacques though he has on occasion been caught concern the resolve in a lie (R. Nonetheless. . detached from them and from everything. and by her family. who would have spoiled them. might into and manifest He self-ignorance lapse self-deception. 139-52. Here. and with much less doubt too.
the perspective of natural necessity. Jean-Jacques affirms that he did rightwith respect to his particular obligation tohis children: he argues on Emile's terms." In the terms of the present argument. But if the perspective of the Reveries were simply higher than that of Emile. Perhaps Jean-Jacques is less confident that necessity governs men than he indicates in the passages cited above. Rousseau. In the Confessions.272 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS concern for their explanation. Rousseau showed himself capable of standing apart Rousseau. dren in the foundling home] has produced that This suggests Jean-Jacques's self-understanding might in part be deter to rid himself of "existence-diminishing bad conscience. 289). which suggests that the whole world of freedom and duty is in some sense illusory. he seems to be deceiving himself. he would have evoked necessity to explain away his apparent fault and left it at that. 77). less moral perspective than Emile. Given this fact he has stipulated about himself. to see him as a reader narrator allows the that the of Jean-Jacques picture man in the grips of "existence-diminishing bad conscience." his desire mined by The presence of amoral argument in defense of his conduct toward his children in the midst of a book that explains human actions in the light of necessity His 39Cooper. here. by necessity or whether they have themoral freedom a significant motive for deceiving himself when it have would Jean-Jacques comes to his conduct toward his children. Rousseau judges the other. he is "less able . 49). One might argue that the Reveries were written from a higher. than any man in theworld" to "overcome SixthWalk?that [his inclinations] when duty commands in order to do what duty prescribes" (R. literally dividing himself into two characters. Ifdoubts do indeed remain on the question ofwhether men are in fact determined in their actions inwhich Emile believes. if Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge was complete in the sense that he could be said to know that human actions are determined by necessity. Such a perspective might excuse Jean-Jacques from his dereliction of duty with respect to his children.. from himself. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 27. states unequivocally that "neither poverty nor labors nor In Emile. Rousseau concern for public opinion exempts [a father] from feeding his children and from raising them himself" (?. we read that "one will see in succession the vicissitudes that [my decision to place my chil inmy manner of thinking" (C. just as it allows him to avoid blaming his enemies for theirwrongs against him. that is. that he abandoned his children out of we seems himself in the recall what he said about when has questionable good. one of whom the author presents a in the Reveries. why should we trust concern for his children's Jean-Jacques when he tells us he was motivated by a seems here classic example of the "unreliable nar best interest? Jean-Jacques rator. This interpretation should not be mistaken for an attempt to psychoanalyze In theDialogues."39 We should there fore regard Jean-Jacques's account of the necessity that governs men with the same wary eye our discovery of the limits of Emile's self-knowledge causes us to turn on his belief in human freedom. This content downloaded on Wed. Similarly.. Instead.
knowledge Both these two ways of life are partial ways of life. In transcending the problem of the bourgeois in the the world of amour-propre and direction of sociability.ROUSSEAU AND THE PROBLEM OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE 273 rather than choice indicates that his self-understanding as a whole?including both the arguments he makes from necessity and the arguments from choice? may be partially motivated by the desire to recapture "good witness of as oneself. that leads through pride in the direction of solitude. for reasons deep in his character?his does not experience. In transcending the problem of the bourgeois freedom to the world of amour-propre and moral Jean-Jacques rejects the world of necessity. is flawed. By looking at Rousseau's most fundamental that we acquire is that the lesson of self-knowledge human problem and the problem of self-knowledge that springs from it are nowhere fully and finally resolved in Rousseau's thought. that Emile's self-knowledge is not fundamentally defective in any way.. is an indispensable. of The Persistence of theHuman Problem and the Problem of Self-Knowledge the thought through the lens of self-knowledge. themost intense experience of the goodness of human existence on its own that the solitary walker shows us in the Reveries. just as Emile's self-knowledge a manner suited to his. It is furthermore not clear that a life with themoral dignity of Emile's could be lived by a man with Jean-Jacques's understanding of the power of necessity to determine human action. in manner suited to his character. is that Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge What is flawed. and perhaps cannot and his limited imagination?Emile experience. To show that Jean-Jacques had an interest in believing in the doctrine of necessity no more proves that doctrine false than showing that Emile has an interest in believing inmoral freedom proves that freedom is an illusion. and both are subject to the defects of human self-knowledge partiality.40 tion of Jean-Jacques's self-knowledge. The holes in Emile's self-knowledge seem to be intrinsically bound up with themost splendid attributes of his character. it seems that. and it is entirely fitting that his self embrace is suspect on the question of his own moral responsibilities.On the view I have described. we are forced to dismiss the experiences described in the Reveries as inessential to the good human life. This content downloaded on Wed. Emile embraces fails that his it is and moral freedom. argues. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . by con aversion to idleness trast. with Tzvetan Todorov." which. Ifwe say. in a it shows. natural good in Cooper to thinkwell of himself thus mars the perfec His desire Rousseau's system. The human problem and the problem even at the level of Jean-Jacques. entirely fitting self-knowledge an excess of to him overestimate that freedom. persist. instead. 11. 40Ibid.
I not from this and once led by them? To flatter myself that these advantages would reason me be to understand myself that one and paths where poorly would have been not have fatal bent stopped nature Sure of myself quite poorly. Indeed.. the problems will remain.274 THE REVIEW OF POLITICS that Jean-Jacques is Rousseau's One might say." he limited model only in the sense that his life is not accessible to all. their self-knowledge human problem and the problem of self-knowledge persist. 358-59). (R. on every other count. 204). as long as they do not achieve the divine self-sufficiency that would allow them to transcend the moral world fully and finally. and the pain of troubled conscience that leads him to deceive himself (C.This temptation ought and ought not conduct ourselves badly with the ring of Gyges. Because of the partiality of each of their lives. and father. Extraordinary as out he concludes his tale of the ring of Gyges: Jean-Jacques himself points On one point alone the ability to penetrate everywhere invisiblymight have made me seek straying seduced onto me or these that I would temptations of aberration. would have have resisted. . only would below others and below what he himself would remained theirequal. The to his partial way of life." is thought truly Rousseau to be resisted" (Davis. that there is somuch for Jean-Jacques to confess in the Confessions is a strong indication to the contrary. we have reason to produce doubt that so imaginative a man as Jean-Jacques could ever possess the virtu ous self-mastery of an Emile. Rousseau's a "sad and great System. results from his moral mistakes as men the mortal. but also leaving as to sexual desire pointing his exact fault unspecified: the fundamental we know we mark of our are imperfect imperfec and would This content downloaded on Wed. still have sexual nature of men. On this view. otherwise. with Cooper. is both clude 41Michael Davis points out the ambiguity of thispassage: "One is tempted to con that he is talking about sexual desire. as we could have predicted on the basis of the First Discourse. and because each is partial remains incomplete. The very potency of imagination that allows Jean-Jacques to experience the full splen dor of reverie gets him into trouble. 30 Jan 2013 09:28:00 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . have done me alone would Anyone men to be human weak him above above whose other power puts ought in effect serve to put him this excess of strength will ness. Jean-Jacques has an inordinately powerful mind that gives him access to experiences ordinary men miss. but we might not know how our until we actually put on the ring. But given Rousseau's indications that the imagination must be carefully pruned to a man of Emile's exemplary moral character. Emile is a splendid social man but less than fully aware of the possibilities of solitary life. Jean-Jacques is a splendid solitary but a bad citizen. "highest a and that is human type. in. The Autobiography of Philosophy: Rousseau's The Reveries of a SolitaryWalker [Lanham. To be sure. MD: Rowman and Littlefield. will manifest itself imperfection tion. husband. 1999]. 82-83)41 have been had he As long as extraordinary men are men in theway Jean-Jacques here describes..