P O L I T I C A L S T U D I E S : 2 0 1 2 VO L 6 0 , 7 6 – 9 4
Rousseau’s Rediscovered Communion des Coeurs: Cosmopolitanism in the Reveries of the Solitary Walker
University of La Verne Among his various interventions into the debate between patriotism and cosmopolitanism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s most direct and forceful statements expressed a preference for patriotism. As a result, there has long been a sense among his interpreters that Rousseau opposed cosmopolitanism. This interpretation, I argue in this article, is too narrow to accommodate the breadth of Rousseau’s writings on patriotism and cosmopolitanism. From the Discourses, to Emile, to the Reveries, Rousseau’s reﬂections on patriotism and cosmopolitanism were ambivalent. Rousseau defended patriotism not on its own merits but on the basis of its relative superiority to abstract cosmopolitanism, which Rousseau dismissed as powerless to motivate moral action. This leaves open the possibility of another kind of cosmopolitanism – an authentic, heartfelt cosmopolitanism – which, if it could be realized, would be preferable even to patriotism. In the Reveries, I argue, Rousseau discovered just such a heartfelt cosmopolitanism, one that points toward an inclusive model of civic affect.
Keywords: Rousseau; reverie; cosmopolitanism; affect
Among his various interventions into the debate between patriotism and cosmopolitanism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s most direct and forceful statements expressed a preference for patriotism. As a result, there has long been a sense among Rousseau’s interpreters that Rousseau opposed cosmopolitanism. Richard Velkley encapsulates this consensus:
Rousseau ... regards a primary attachment to one’s own society as the necessary foundation for citizenship at all times and places, and he does not subscribe to Enlightenment doctrines of the progress of the nations toward a common humanity. Cosmopolitan openness for Rousseau is therefore an attitude ﬁtting only for philosophers ( Velkley, 2002, p. 17).1
This interpretation is too narrow to accommodate the breadth of Rousseau’s writings on the theme of patriotism and cosmopolitanism. From the Second Discourse, to Emile and the Moral Letters, to the writings on Saint-Pierre, and the Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Rousseau’s thoughts on patriotism and cosmopolitanism were ambivalent. While he frequently described cosmopolitanism in disparaging terms, he just as often gave it a positive charge. If we read Rousseau as hostile to cosmopolitanism, what are we to make of his deep admiration for the Abbé de Saint-Pierre, who wrote cosmopolitan works on international peace?2 How will we accommodate Rousseau’s praise in the Second Discourse for what he called ‘great cosmopolitan souls, who surmount the imaginary barriers that separate Peoples and who, following the example of the sovereign Being who created them, include the whole human race in their benevolence?’ (iii:178; iv:54) This passage, along with others of a similar if less vociferous tenor, compel a reconsideration of the anti-cosmopolitan reading. In particular, I develop in this article a cosmopolitan reading of Rousseau’s ﬁnal work, the
© 2011 The Author. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association
in practice. Although reverie began for Rousseau as an apolitical. For a few great souls. Rousseau discovered what he had previously believed to be highly unlikely: a sentimental pathway to a cosmopolitan love of humankind. Rousseau’s divergent claims about cosmopolitanism are best explained with reference to his insistence on distinguishing between what is best in theory and what is best for actually existing societies. friend or society other than myself’. Put simply. The ambivalence of Rousseau’s critique of cosmopolitanism has been noticed by writers such as Grace Roosevelt. medium. if not anti-political. In the Reveries. what right permits with what interest prescribes. a cosmopolitan love of humanity could supply the motivation for virtue. he doubted cosmopolitanism’s power to sway the hearts of men and women. as he put it at the outset of the Social Contract. Virtue. can extend their affect to all humankind without at the same time diminishing its
© 2011 The Author. It was on this basis that Rousseau defended patriotism and criticized cosmopolitanism. one that. if it could be realized. of course. he questioned its power to motivate moral action in actually existing societies. not principled.Timothy O’Hagan and Helena Rosenblatt. and he did not believe that cosmopolitanism could match patriotism’s capacity to inspire. Rather. In theory. iv:131). he wrote in a fragment on politics. his desire for communion was reconﬁrmed and expressed in a newfound cosmopolitanism.Tzvetan Todorov. Rousseau’s quest for communion did not end (R. cosmopolitanism may provide sufﬁcient motive for the self-sacriﬁce that virtue requires. no longer having any brother. Left to himself. in other words. openness and a ‘communion des coeurs’ (communion of hearts). the Reveries in particular. Rousseau had an intellectual and emotional preference. It was just such a heartfelt cosmopolitanism that Rousseau discovered in the self-imposed exile described in the Reveries. but a more particulière love of la patrie is far more likely to inspire self-sacriﬁce in practice.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
Reveries of the SolitaryWalker. ﬂourishes more as a consequence of people having been inspired than of their having been convinced. so that justice and utility are not at variance’ (iii:351. of Rousseau’s pledge to construct a practicable political theory. neighbor. in this most unlikely of circumstances. In theory. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. ‘alone on earth.‘takes men as they are’ and tries ‘always to reconcile .
For cosmopolitanism.‘The love of humanity gives many virtues’. i:995. It was one consequence. Rousseau defended patriotism.‘but not courage or heroism’ (iii:536). as a political scientist. would be preferable even to patriotism. Rousseau held. heartfelt cosmopolitanism which. it ultimately became a new path toward compassion.5 This newfound cosmopolitanism points toward a model of civic affect that attends to concerns about patriotism’s tendency toward jingoism and exclusivity. among many. 60(1)
.. like Socrates. but only for those few who. Rousseau revered cosmopolitanism but. and describe how that reading bears on contemporary attempts to deﬁne a role for affect in democratic politics. not on the basis of its inherent superiority but rather on the basis of its relative superiority as an alternative to abstract cosmopolitanism.4 The Reveries brought together Rousseau’s long-standing theoretical admiration for cosmopolitanism with his belief in the necessity of a sentimental foundation for a moral community. in order to recover in Rousseau’s writings the possibility of an authentic. Rousseau’s critique of cosmopolitanism was pragmatic.. vii:3).3 This article extends their insights to Rousseau’s broader corpus. but.
as Rousseau put it. the passages cited here do not dismiss cosmopolitanism tout court. In Rousseau’s ultimate calculus. having failed to inspire virtue. fails to motivate virtuous action. They are only men. and it was in his capacity as a social critic that he judged cosmopolitanism a harmful public philosophy. had become alienated from the simple sentiments that inspire civic virtue. while not without its own defects. iii:255. second. Rousseau argued. but rather that the risks of cosmopolitanism were greater. Rousseau’s claim was not that patriotism carried no risks. In his capacity as a publishing author. fails to inspire sentiment. Cosmopolitanism is dangerous because it asks of human beings more than most can deliver and. because their theorizing about virtue was rarely accompanied by virtuous action. Rousseau judged the dangers that follow from an intense love of the patria to be far fewer than those that follow from the indifference of abstract cosmopolitanism. in Rousseau’s experience. when considered against the alternative of abstract cosmopolitanism. They are nothing in his eyes’ (iv:248. (2) Cosmopolitanism. is accessible to almost everyone: ‘a people of wise men have never been formed’. leaving the vast majority of human beings without an object of moral affect. cosmopolitanism serves as a hypocritical excuse for a lack of concern for one’s duties: ‘Distrust those cosmopolitans who. Patriotism. A philosopher loves the Tartars in order to be excused from loving his neighbor’ (E. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. Rousseau was infuriated by high-minded attacks on patriotism by what he regarded as benighted philosophers who. xiii:163). seek to ﬁnd far away those duties which they disdain to fulﬁll around them. but rather target a certain type of cosmopolitan – ‘those cosmopolitans’. Nevertheless. therefore. in their books. Rousseau’s argument can be sketched as follows: (1) Virtuous action is a function of sentiment more than reason. Rousseau was not unaware of these dangers. To make matters worse. xiii:164). Rousseau understood himself foremost as a social critic. Rousseau believed. iii:151). Rousseau was not reluctant to acknowledge the price of patriotism. As he put it in Emile. drains virtue of its motivational energy. is a demonstrably powerful motive for self-sacriﬁce. iv: 248. it goes on to undermine more particular moral attachments that do have the power to inspire virtue. philosophical appeal. Rousseau wrote in the context of a comparison between patriotism and cosmopolitanism. Cosmopolitanism’s defects are. cosmopolitanism disparages more particular afﬁliations. The desire for cosmopolitanism may be a noble one but. (3) Cosmopolitanism’s tendency toward abstraction serves as a justiﬁcation for hypocrisy. Patriotism. twofold: ﬁrst.78
intensity. Rousseau believed. a diagnostician of society’s ills. While highly critical of a certain form of abstract cosmopolitanism. The perils of patriotism are familiar – exclusion. For most. ‘Every patriot is harsh to foreigners. those ills pale by comparison to the ills that follow from attacks on patriotism in the name of abstract cosmopolitanism. while compelling in the abstract. xenophobia and aggression on the basis of what could be seen as a morally arbitrary distinction. having been corrupted by cosmopolitan Paris. it fails to inspire virtue. Whatever its abstract. therefore. as a public philosophy. on the other hand. who invoke an abstract love of humanity
© 2011 The Author. ‘but it is not impossible to make a people happy’ (PE. Cosmopolitans were almost always hypocrites. while there are ills associated with patriotism. as a public philosophy cosmopolitanism was a recipe for civic apathy and moral hypocrisy. cosmopolitanism. 60(1)
7 If so. iii:284. as Rousseau understood them. if cosmopolitanism is possible. as Denis Diderot called it. iii:37). are products of the same ‘sentiment of humanity’ (PE. Commentators often cite this passage as deﬁnitive evidence of Rousseau’s opposition to cosmopolitanism. Rousseau wrote. that it may not be possible to extend affections beyond the borders of the patria. in international politics and in solitary reverie. When generalized this sentiment becomes cosmopolitan. iii:284. one need not be anti-cosmopolitan. There. iii:254. tends more often than not to desensitize most to the suffering of others. it is altogether appropriate to encourage it. however sincerely felt in a few. The tutor’s
© 2011 The Author. in circumstances where cosmopolitanism is a viable alternative. iv:78). It is important to note. Rousseau favors a cosmopolitan approach that departs dramatically from his political defense of patriotism as a public philosophy. in other words. The more we increase the generality of our object of affection. the less intensely we feel its effects. Rousseau found much to admire in cosmopolitanism. when it is ‘concentrated among fellow citizens’ the sentiment of humanity ‘gains fresh force’. Rousseau noted. In defending patriotism. patriotism becomes the only viable motivation for civic action.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
as a justiﬁcation for moral apathy. the sentiment of humanity is very rarely displayed. It is this abstract or philosophical cosmopolitanism that enables soi-disant civilized human beings to walk past those suffering in pain. iii:151). Rousseau speciﬁcally targets the claim that ‘in the state of independence. however. they spread it thin and. 60(1)
. in the carefully managed education of Emile. for that reason. and cosmopolitan moralists who insist on belittling patriotic affect become guilty of undermining civic virtue. Consequently. it will not be by extension of an innate human trait. beginning from the cosmopolitan pity of the savage and expanding outward until it encompasses the whole of the human race.8 These latter circumstances obtain. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. On the other hand. This ‘general society’. By contrast. in its more generalized forms. Patriotism stirs most hearts more powerfully than does cosmopolitanism and is. iii.284. it leaves open the possibility of a cosmopolitanism that is the product of ever-broadening spheres of affection. perhaps most paradigmatically. In expanding their love of humanity. where the savage would have stopped in his tracks (DI. when particularized it is manifested as patriotism. It is for practical reasons. which makes us aware of ‘natural law’ or the ‘law of reason’ (GM. even if cosmopolitanism is preferable to patriotism when evaluated solely on the basis of its theoretical appeal. a more deﬁnite (if less pure) path to virtue.6 It is harder for Europeans to feel the ‘sentiment of humanity’. that Rousseau does not claim that cosmopolitanism is impossible in this (ultimately excised) chapter of an early version of the Social Contract. Cosmopolitanism. Rousseau was particularly critical of the philosophical argument that nature bestows upon human beings a ‘general will of the human race’. iii:155. In spite of his reservations about its practicability. reason leads us to cooperate for the common good out of a perception of our own interest’ (GM. patriotism’s practical advantages make it worth defending. exists only ‘in the systems of philosophers’ (GM. His argument is rather that.While this rules out the possibility of an innate cosmopolitan sensibility. creating a place for it in the education of Emile. in the process. we might note that patriotism and cosmopolitanism. Rousseau’s doubts about cosmopolitanism stemmed from his observation that. when calamities occur in ‘Tartary or Japan’ as opposed to within Europe. As a starting point. dilute its motivational energy. iv:78–9). iv:78).
10 Rousseau’s essay on Poland. Spanish. that if all the kings and all the philosophers were taken away. provides a good case in point. even with pity. p. The patriot’s allegiance is to a set of practices and principles which. Civil and domestic practices are to be preserved. Europe no longer has any ‘French. In the Social Contract. in which he offers his most explicit defense of patriotism. but rather in an attachment to a particular set of laws and political practices. Do things in such a way that he puts himself in no class but ﬁnds his bearings in all. it is important to note that these seemingly opposed afﬁnities – to the polis on the one hand and the cosmopolis on the other – were not incompatible as Rousseau understood them. iii:143 and iii:246. iii:141). iii:961. Rousseau counsels patriotism in the Government of Poland. are theoretically applicable to all human beings. while situationally particular to a given society. there are ‘only Europeans’ – people who ‘speak about the public good and think only of themselves’. depending on the circumstance. xiii:378)
With respect to religion. points toward a cosmopolitan embrace of humankind. he describes the beneﬁts of association as including the broadening of ideas (iii: 364. and after saying what pertains to man. even those who despise men. 161) has called it. xi:175).9 Patriotism is a critical step in the process of ‘broadening one’s ideas’ – which. most societies will struggle to expand civic affect even as far as the patria. A ‘true republican’. Rousseau likewise adopted a cosmopolitan standard:
Let us ﬁrst ﬁnd this form of worship and this morality. their absence would hardly be noticeable. However. to give to Poles a ‘national physiognomy’. it will be for all men. ix:179). ix:53–4). 60(1)
. of the laws and of freedom’ (LB. not as a defense of patriotism itself but as an alternative to the European decadence against which he juxtaposed it. because they will inoculate Poles against Russian
© 2011 The Author. do not dishonor man! (E. iv:966. Rousseau advised. teach your pupil to love all men. and proprieties. This possibility exists because Rousseau’s defense of patriotism was grounded not in an exclusive attachment to a geographical area. Be aware that it is composed essentially of a collection of peoples. may or may not eventually extend beyond the patria. xi:174–5). Rousseau wrote. homage is paid to the cosmopolitan ideal. it was the historically speciﬁc threat of Russian imperialism that created the imperative to ‘seize the occasion of the present event to raise souls to the pitch of ancient souls’ (GP. or English’. Rousseau’s advice was to ‘give another inclination to the Poles’ passions’.
Respect your species. we will say what pertains to the citizen (LB. Speak before him of humankind with tenderness. but never with contempt. iii:144). And then when national formulas are needed. as Rousseau put it.80
inculcation of a ‘morality of the senses’. that is to say. iii: 960. for example. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. In this context.‘even if they are indifferent. Rousseau speaks approvingly of ‘the large town of the world’ and writes that ‘the most general will is also always the most just’ (PE. Man. relations. we will examine their foundations. iii:245. much less the ‘large town of the world’ or the ‘federation of nations’ that Rousseau describes in the Polysynodie.‘imbibes the love of the fatherland. people who are ‘ambitious only for luxury’ (GP. Germans. as Timothy O’Hagan (1999. even if they are bad in certain respects’. In Political Economy. Rousseau’s patriotism should be understood in the context of his republicanism. in which he articulated his strongest support for patriotism. In a word. In practice. For Poland. and that things would not be any the worse. iv:969.
Even in Rousseau’s explicitly political writings. iv:510.
but for their defense of freedom against a ‘powerful and cunning aggressor’ (GP. the most intuitive solution to the ills of humankind’s division would seem to be a return to the originary. and the love of mankind is nothing other than the love of justice. Emile will be well equipped to form social relations with others. This is because what matters most – what is ‘essential’ – is to ‘be good to the people with whom one lives’ (E. he tells the tutor. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. The more one generalizes this interest. and reprisals which make Nature tremble and shock reason. But this is not an option once social divisions have been instituted. Rousseau’s emphasis is more cosmopolitan. Rousseau rejected attempts to essentialize cultural differences. How that community of people is deﬁned must be a function of empirical circumstances. but men (GP. From there. xi:174). Rousseau concedes that exclusive practices can be ‘bad’ but defends them nonetheless on the pragmatic grounds that they constitute Poland’s best defense against Russian conquest.Wherever there are men’. and all those horrible prejudices which rank the honor of shedding human blood among the virtues. Rousseau gives us a sense of how affect might be extended beyond the borders of la patrie to the whole of humanity:
Let us extend amour propre to other beings. and that cultural differences had emerged historically.We shall transform it into a virtue and there is no man’s heart in which this virtue does not have its root. And when he praises Polish citizens.. emphasis added). is ‘inevitable but not compelling’. The less the object of our care is immediately involved with us.. the more it becomes equitable. But in describing Emile’s education. it is not for any exclusive practices. 60(1)
Based on this argument. Battles. I answer to you for it that Russia will never subjugate Poland’ (GP. iii:962. pre-social. so as to protect him from the corrupt habits and tastes of modern society. the less the illusion of particular interest is to be feared. whether as a citizen or transna© 2011 The Author. xi:170).. iii:55). iv:249. Having been educated in conformity with nature. but the virtue that patriotism inspires. Rousseau lamented the historical moment at which he imagines this differentiation to have occurred:
Hence arose the National Wars. murders. insisting that human nature was the same everywhere. xiii:164). iii:954. xi:176.12
Emile is educated to be happy ‘everywhere on earth . cosmopolitan state.When speaking of class divisions. iv:856–7. xiii:666). ‘I am at the home of my brothers’ (E. for example. it may be possible to extend affect beyond the boundaries of la patrie. wherever he chooses to live. Societies will have to circle back to cosmopolitanism (if they are up to the challenge) by ﬁrst enlarging the affection of their citizens beyond the boundaries of oneself and one’s family. In fact. In the Second Discourse. Such are the ﬁrst effects one glimpses of the division of the human Race into different Societies (iii:178. Elsewhere in the text. as Rousseau put it. Rousseau reminds his privileged readers that their serfs are ‘men like you’ – not Poles..11 Patriotism’s tendency toward jingoism. iii:960. xi:186. while certainly a ‘drawback’. It is not patriotism itself that Rousseau values. The most decent men learned to consider it one of their duties to murder their fellows . Emile’s cosmopolitanism emerges as the ﬁnal stage of an education that begins with a withdrawal from society. during the course of which he is scrupulously sheltered from social interaction.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
inﬂuence: ‘If you make it so that a Pole can never become a Russian.
in reverie he discovered an ordinary path to a heartfelt love of humankind. This compatibility has never been seen and never will be. For Rousseau the most important political choice was not between patriotism and cosmopolitanism.
Reverie: A Cosmopolitan Path to Communion
Rousseau stopped short of endorsing cosmopolitanism. His was more a defense of patriotism than an attack on cosmopolitanism. emphasizing instead the need to choose one or the other.. societies ought to take advantage of whatever they can to broaden the moral ties of citizens. it was rather between love of self in conjunction with others and love of self at the expense of others. but he never denied the great appeal of cosmopolitanism. ii:608. and because one cannot give the same passion two aims’ (LM.. Although it would initially seem evident (from a Rousseauean perspective) that societies ought to choose patriotism over cosmopolitanism. are two virtues incompatible in their energy .. In a perfect world. vi:494). 60(1)
. He neither recommended nor rejected it as against patriotism. In that work. St Preux’s moral affections become expansive. invites such a reading. What is impossible. rationalistic form. Rousseau discovered a less rareﬁed path to cosmopolitanism. xiii:163). Emile and Julie offer examples of how Rousseau’s pragmatic preference for immediacy or particularity can be rendered consistent with his abstract preference for universality. they nevertheless have something in common. to borrow a formulation from Rousseau. even if his moral philosophy pointed toward it. One must choose’ (E. iv:248. whatever the differences between cosmopolitanism and patriotism. one that belied his own presuppositions about its inherent lack of énergie. as he writes of ‘the endearing and touching tableau of a general exhilaration that seems at this moment to extend over the surface of the earth’ (NH. is to ‘make both at the same time . Rousseau’s texts suggest the possibility of a countervailing reading. 2008. It is not that it is impossible to make either a patriot or a cosmopolitan. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. In particular. something more fundamental than any of the things that separate them: the broadening of fraternal sentiments.. the Reveries of the Solitary Walker. p. intellectual one. because he doubted that the bonds of fraternity could preserve their
© 2011 The Author. Rousseau never criticized cosmopolitanism as an authentically experienced sentiment. But given the constraints of modernity. Rousseau explicitly raised the possibility of instilling a cosmopolitan affect in citizens. All of this is to suggest that.82
tionally.. The imperative to broaden one’s identity and ideas animated Rousseau’s critique of cosmopolitanism as well as his admiration for it. Societies must pick an object of identiﬁcation: ‘Patriotism and humanity . 62). as opposed to an abstract. because it is contrary to nature. As Helena Rosenblatt has pointed out. He criticized it in its abstract.13 Rousseau doubted cosmopolitanism’s capacity to be the spring of virtuous action. human beings would love one another without regard for political divisions. his last work. something very similar happens to St Preux at the rural Clarens estate (Rosenblatt. Whereas Rousseau had previously argued that genuine cosmopolitanism was available only to ‘great cosmopolitan souls’ like Socrates. and the same can be said of the Reveries. Amidst the immediacy and intensity of the moral relationships at Clarens. ix:149). iii:706. In the Letters Written from the Mountain. Reverie offers a path to a sentimental cosmopolitanism. which all too often ends up as an excuse not to love at all rather than a basis for universal love..
philosophers impose their will on the world. diverge and pool. removes ‘obstacles’. convention and vanity. observations and thoughts from the artiﬁcial constraints of system. viii:9). While the subject of solitary reverie allows his or her thoughts to ﬂow like water. There is no structure or framework governing reverie. We work tirelessly for a happiness that only recedes with each new honor or possession. i:123). i:143).. without the collaboration of the will’ (D. Rousseau described his Reveries of the Solitary Walker as the ‘faithful record’ of his reveries. emerges out of formlessness. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. which also goes where nature intends. It is the unﬁltered. beating back nature with a network of dams and canals. i:1002. Late in life. it does present a spiritual or psychological alternative to it – one grounded in the universality of original goodness rather than the particularity of amour propre. in Rousseau’s view. the least constrained. as Rousseau conceptualized it. Nature grants us everything we need. Rousseau’s reasoning suggests that he would have looked approvingly on any viable pathway toward a heartfelt fellowship of humanity. in the form of solitary reverie. By removing himself from society. The idea is to allow one’s thoughts to coalesce and combine on their own. undirected expression of the heart. without the presuppositions of a philosophical system. which begin with a criterion or method and then derive truths within those parameters. they are akin to hydraulic engineers. Reverie requires no specialized expertise or training: ‘it is necessary only to love pleasure’ (R. A form. However. so that the universal voice of conscience can be heard once again. which he deﬁned as a state in which he would ‘leave [his] head entirely free and let [his] ideas follow their bent without resistance or constraint’ (R. As in Rousseau’s approach to education. i:1063. Reverie became Rousseau’s preferred state of consciousness late in his life. It allows its subject to free him or herself from the forces that structure modern consciousness. Although reverie does nothing to alter the socio-political reality of institutionalized inequality. i:687. enlightenment is here a negative endeavor: ‘it must consist not in curing the vices of the human heart – for there are no such vices naturally – but in preventing them from being born and in keeping tightly shut the passages through which they enter’ (D.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
affective force while being extended that widely. structured philosophical dogmatism that Rousseau ascribed to his intellectual contemporaries. Reverie frees images. This reverses conventional modes of theoretical reﬂection. Reverie appealed to Rousseau because it creates a space for consciousness to escape the societal noise that generally consumes it. unencumbered by language. i:845. prejudices. direct expression of what he regarded as his pure intentions. It was the most spontaneous. ideas and possessions. Rousseau discovered such a pathway himself. because it was the least mediated. leaving thoughts free to combine. Rousseau discovered that the barriers to a genuine love of humanity were all products of society. allowing ‘images to be traced in the brain .. having become so enamored of ambition and acquisition. moving in unpredictable directions. we cannot stop ourselves from pursuing increasingly sophisticated appetites. This unstructured willingness to listen contrasted sharply. the simple and essential ‘truths that pertain to the happiness of mankind’
© 2011 The Author. 60(1)
. Reverie. responding to variations in the environment. customs or any of the other inﬂuences that mediate consciousness in society. Rousseau likened this experience to the ﬂow of water. Meanwhile. v:59). but. systems. with the systematic. if one emerges at all.
pure love of existence. rather. In both Julie and the
© 2011 The Author. Reverie’s function is to create the opening that consciousness needs to recover its tranquility and. both physical and spiritual – a communion with humanity’s universal goodness. viii:320–1).16 His doubts about cosmopolitanism. philosophical methods could theoretically be useful. ‘The error of moralists is to take man as reasonable. ii:22). in its assumption that our sentiments and inclinations are confused or unreliable. because it is too little proportioned to our faculties’ (Rousseau. i:1000. the Reveries constituted a new paradigm. not sentiment itself. We are rather sensing’. Rousseau wrote in a fragment on politics (iii: 554). This embrace of formlessness set Rousseau apart from his contemporaries. Rousseau held. the stimuli driving reverie will be manifestations of the voice of nature. for Rousseau it was the rationalization of sentiment that was the source of corruption. viii:7). These basic truths are apprehended not through sophisticated philosophical systems or scientiﬁc investigation but by consulting one’s heart or inner voice.14 These truths are not reborn or reconstituted. It was in reverie that Rousseau believed the heart could at last break free of the prejudices and constraints of convention and abstract reasoning.15 If reverie is fundamentally open. Conventional wisdom turns out to be exactly wrong. The concept of natural goodness gave Rousseau a safety net for the radical formlessness of reverie. Rousseau referred to this idea – the ‘natural goodness of man’ – as his ‘fundamental principle’ (LB. iii:30. reacquaint itself with the ‘truths that pertain to the happiness of mankind’. Our essential sentiments and inclinations are pure. manifested in an open. ii:3). they resurface when we purge ourselves of the divisive inﬂuence of amour propre. If Rousseau was able to rediscover truths that remained opaque to most. consciousness will not drift toward vanity or selﬁshness? Rousseau’s answer to this criticism derived from the radical and (we should note) cosmopolitan ﬁrst principle of his philosophical system. iii:3. then the subject will not impose restrictions or ﬁlters on the substance of his or her reverie. the harmful passions feared by philosophers are the consequence not of sentiments themselves but of their rationalization. iv:935.18 However. ‘is very suspect to me. for whom reverie was a pejorative term. Once the active intellect is quieted.17 If our capacity for reason were robust enough to exclude the passions. As a form of writing. he was certain that it had been because he consulted his heart rather than his mind. derived from his sense that cosmopolitanism was too abstract to touch the heart. our thinking. as he put it. ‘as [they] came to me’ (R. originating either from the outside (physical nature) or from the inside – from the subject’s heart or inner voice. even determine. left to its own devices. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. one that Rousseau hoped would enable him to speak only from the inside and convey thoughts without ﬁlter or comment but rather.84
become ever more opaque (DAS. While philosophers have generally trusted reason to control sentiment. because the passions always inﬂuence. in reverie. The ‘method of generalizing and abstracting’. 1965–. in so doing. philosophical approaches to truth generally fail. a process Rousseau referred to as the ‘sublime science of simple souls’ (DAS. ix:28). Rousseau wrote in a 1761 letter. 60(1)
. they argued. as noted above. What assurance do we have that. Form can here emerge out of formlessness. Reverie will simply reﬂect the stimuli that enter into consciousness once the intellect has been quieted.
By contrast. iii:37). i:1002–3. when he encounters a fellow human being in pain (iii:156. abstract reason has done humanity more harm than good. Whereas the savage experienced an innate. it is circumscribed. as Rousseau perceived it. exercised well. is reactive as opposed to proactive. I am safe’. It was for this reason. The worthiest use of reason – the single best use – is to ‘annihilate it before [God]’ (LB. we will arrive at the few. a pervasive deﬁciency of modern European philosophy. Reason. as well as our other faculties. Since it is not possible to silence the passions altogether. This helps us make sense of Rousseau’s claim in the First Discourse that. most direct pathway to the heart and its sentiment intérieur. our sophistication makes us indifferent: ‘perish if you will. Reverie. it is engaged by. Modern culture has made wisdom difﬁcult by obscuring so thoroughly its source. so that God’s goodness can ﬁll that newly created space. had actually done him a favor by forcing him into exile (R. Its function becomes regulative: to discern and order the sentiments most conducive to human ﬂourishing. we are better off listening to our heart from the outset. 60(1)
. ix:46).21 Reverie becomes a way of doing just this. while reason plays the important but secondary role of managing and ordering (ML. that his tormentors. and responds to.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
Dialogues. reason functions as a constraint on itself. as opposed to theorizing it.20 If we are able to silence the harmful passions. and in spite of its capacity to enlighten. xii:197). Alone. For all of its many splendors. viii:9). Amidst his persecution. sentiments elicited by the environment within which it operates. offered the clearest. Rousseau described himself as having achieved an enlightened serenity:
© 2011 The Author. Properly activated. and one can sense the truth. iv:1110. Sentiment is the source of and motivation for our actions. Rousseau came to believe. Rousseau has characters insist that reason alone is empty and that the passions are conquered only by opposing one to another. says the philosopher of the Second Discourse. it designates both its own place and that of our other faculties. iv:959. At the extreme. the more unlikely the chances of expanding one’s affection to include a heartfelt concern for the welfare of others. Reverie abstains from reason and all the other constraints on consciousness so that sentiments are felt as intimately as possible.19 The task for those seeking justice is not to subordinate the passions to reason but rather to subordinate the harmful passions to the useful ones. Rousseau was ﬁnally able to purge himself of everything external – to turn inward and orient himself introspectively (in communion with nature and his own natural goodness) rather than intersubjectively (in the opinion of others). Rousseau felt. immediate aversion at the sight of suffering. in spite of their ill intent. The more sophisticated one’s world view. This experience of escape or withdrawal enabled a pure-hearted return to humanity and a newfound concern for the welfare of others. all things considered. in modern European society. reasoners imagined themselves to be detached from sentiment altogether. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. simple truths that make for the happiness of humankind – precisely the same truths that reason would yield if the passions could somehow be silenced entirely. While reason is not displaced on this account. the savage was better than we are. Rousseau believed that reason had too often become detached from authentic needs and was deployed instead to serve artiﬁcial ones.
And that is why it enabled the fellowship that had eluded him for so much of his life. even in the midst of his deepest solitude. like God Himself (R.
In reverie. Then it became necessary to ﬂee them so as not to hate them. and the idea of private happiness never touched my heart until I saw my brothers seeking theirs only in my misery. the more positively disposed he was toward cosmopolitanism. iii:951–1041. a poor unfortunate mortal. I made plans of earthly felicity for myself. in freeing themselves of a concern for the opinion of others. The motivational force that Rousseau had earlier associated with patriotism alone became available to him in cosmopolitan form amidst his solitary reveries. The more he contemplated speciﬁc political challenges. Modern corruption makes a meeting of the minds unlikely in social life. and that experience enables us to be together in the authentic way that Rousseau envisioned in his political writings. In other circumstances.
The ill-intentioned but ultimately serendipitous banishment of Rousseau from European intellectual circles allowed him not only to experience a previously unimagined ecstasy but also to produce fundamental insights into justice and morality. the more he leaned toward patriotism as the only viable alternative to the self-absorption of amour propre. the possibility of which he had previously doubted – an authentic. it turns out.86
Everything is ﬁnished for me on earth. which was for him the universal essence of all humankind. As we saw in the previous section. I have nothing more to hope for or to fear in this world and here I am tranquil at the bottom of the abyss. People can no longer do good or evil to me here. because only a uniﬁed Polish population could possibly defend itself against Russian imperialism (GP. The more conceptual his thinking. i:999. if we orient ourselves away from society and turn inward toward natural goodness. but that human beings. xi:167–240). seeking refuge in mother nature. i:1066. I could be happy only through public felicity. but unperturbed. he advocated patriotism. We are alone in society without knowing it. laborious. ardent. Reverie returned Rousseau to himself. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. Rousseau’s writings oscillate between praise for universal duty and allegiance to one’s compatriots. viii:63). in solitude. we are alone deliberately. In reverie. but a communion des coeurs is still possible. a more cosmopoli© 2011 The Author. i:122). Rousseau believed he had deepened his understanding of the truths that make for its ﬂourishing. to his essence. which he described as ‘active. These plans always being relative to the whole. Rousseau experienced a dynamic. by contrast.
As long as men were my brothers. also put themselves in a position to experience an authentic communion des coeurs. viii:6). Rousseau’s preference for patriotism over abstract cosmopolitanism stemmed from their relative capacity to inspire moral action. In a corrupt era. In the case of Poland. for example. Totally apart from society. the only short-term option is to be alone.
Reverie and Democratic Affect
As we have seen. I sought in her arms to shield myself against the attacks of her children (R. Rousseau learned something unexpected: not just that he himself did not need people. i:817. Nothing was more necessary for Rousseau than to preserve a love of humanity. and indefatigable’ (D. 60(1)
. heartfelt cosmopolitanism. Then.
it is a withdrawal from social life and a resistance to ossiﬁcation. 2). Ironically. Reverie would. The question then becomes whether. a cosmopolitan embrace of humankind is possible under certain circumstances. The practice of reverie. but Rousseau was equally interested in a commonality – one that enabled him to endorse both ideas in different contexts. begs yet one more question – namely. they represented a refusal of politics and political life and reﬂected an animosity toward most of the particular human beings with whom he had actually interacted. And in the Reveries. seem to be an extremely unlikely path to active citizenship. which often presuppose highly homogeneous populations. both have the capacity to serve as critical safeguards against the particularizing effects of amour propre. though it carries its own risks. After all.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
tan. in particular the ironic circumstance of solitary reverie. Patriotism. The walker’s active role is negative. This produces a highly lucid but indeterminate state of conscious activity. yes. iii:287. The drawback of cosmopolitanism for Rousseau was not its object of moral affect. There is a practice and a substance of reverie. while the substance of reverie – the truths apprehended in reverie – offers the potential to encourage a concern for the welfare of others and a collective identity. trans-national identity might be preferable. therefore. substantive transformation of consciousness based on nature or nature’s voice. Rousseau’s own retreat from society would appear to be an instance of this dynamic. has the necessary énergie to overcome the particularizing tendencies of amour propre. reverie’s solitude enables a
© 2011 The Author. For modern. as we have seen. each of which has the potential to serve democratic citizenship. manifested as the love of existence and a rediscovered communion des coeurs. This. cosmopolitanism can inspire such moral affect in ordinary citizens. than the explicitly political writings. Rousseau believed that only affect could immunize societies against the dangers of amour propre and particularity (Garsten. this clearing in consciousness will enable a corresponding. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. Because both patriotism and cosmopolitanism generalize affect. Rousseau’s Reveries yields valuable insights into civic participation. diverse democracies in particular. 2006. As Bryan Garsten has shown. as in the case of those ‘supposed cosmopolites’ who ‘boast of loving everyone in order to have the right to love no one’ (GM. political concern for the welfare of one’s fellow human beings? A general love of humanity does not necessarily translate into a political commitment to civic participation. more valuable. is marked by a clearing away of prejudice and a thoroughgoing openness to nature and (what amounts to the same thing) to one’s inner voice. however. Rousseau’s cosmopolitan reveries were born of a repudiation of politics. The answer we have proposed to this question is. At ﬁrst. to dilute affective ties to the point of impotence. and Rousseau was no exception. Rousseau was perhaps most favorably disposed to the sentiment of humanity. Under the right circumstances. Nevertheless. as in the context of the societé européene envisioned by Saint-Pierre. Political philosophers generally emphasize the differences between patriotism and cosmopolitanism. iv:81). ch. perhaps. under the right circumstances. it was rather cosmopolitanism’s tendency to become purely intellectual. the dispositions elicited by Rousseauean reverie are not without political relevance. The practice of reverie supports democratic citizenship by removing prejudice and cultivating a climate of openness. 60(1)
. can the spiritual communion des coeurs experienced in reverie be translated into a concrete. outside any speciﬁc political context.
iii:1078. Reverie’s clearing enables a similarly unmediated experience. to see an animal . sensing our immediate existence rather than reﬂecting upon our obligations. 60(1)
. the desire to transcend locution can disrupt the narrative one tells about oneself. most fundamental about human existence. convention. a disposition characteristic of what Jacques Derrida called a ‘democratic friend’:
© 2011 The Author. the empire of opinion on the one hand and the ‘sentiment of existence’ on the other.. all the structures. but his text invites the reader to imagine the results that reverie may produce for him or her. What reverie offers is not an agenda for democracy but the openness that a truly egalitarian democracy would need to ﬂourish. Reverie is the activity of the mind unencumbered by the constraints of amour propre.. releasing the mind to immediate sensation. even of language. iii:134. Rousseau opposed the promeneur’s state of mind to that of his critics.. Reverie’s essential activity is disruptive to all settled patterns of thinking. at least not initially. directing consciousness always toward that which is most basic.. That nothingness helps keep us in the present. who he described as ‘automatons’.
Democratic Citizenship and the Practice of Reverie
Reverie is precipitated by emptying. Reverie’s escape from politics might preclude a return to it. ingrained in consciousness will ideally wither away in the course of a reverie. we will do so with an open. more equal.. experienced in this context as the simultaneous love of oneself and love of nature. conventions and presuppositions that usually constrain conscious activity. Anything that society has added on and. It is a repudiation of politics that can ultimately function as a support for it – in a democracy. to clarify dogma and prejudice and facilitate a sensitivity to difference. non-judgmental heart. iii:20). Both the amour propre of Rousseau’s despised ‘automatons’ and the amour de soi of his revered walker strip away the ﬁlters on consciousness. desires or fantasies. From that point on. a renewed love of others via a love of the natural goodness inherent in every human soul. less corrupt politics. reverie becomes a largely passive activity. The active component of reverie is negative – the purging of all constraints on conscious activity. as the subject allows his or her surroundings to direct his or her consciousness. all too often.. It is the underside of our conscious conception of ourselves. status and amour propre from consciousness. the Reveries is also suffused with a longing for a less fragmented. Although it is frequently anti-political. but if we can return to society. of all the artiﬁcial faculties that he could have acquired only by prolonged progress . or perhaps it is better to say. In the Reveries. viii:72). reverie’s radical dimension becomes apparent. their actions having been determined simplistically and mechanistically by amour propre (R. Rousseau described the particular ideas that entered that void during his own reveries. Reverie can threaten to undermine the stability of identity. most advantageously organized of all’ (DI. in which the subject is consumed not by amour propre but by amour de soi. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012.88
new. Here. to sabotage or inﬁltrate the construction of identity or sense of self. Reverie is about nothing in particular. In this way. Reverie removes prejudice. the realization of an ambition articulated much earlier by Rousseau in his literary career: to ‘strip man . it is theoretically an opening into which anything may enter.
Rousseau aspired to a similar ethic of political engagement. such a substantial identity. the thinking of community as essence – is in effect the closure of the political. but from their dilution. no longer having. free of divisive relations and grounded in affective solidarity. as theorized by the great proponents of republican citizenship. 306). 306). Nancy and Derrida argue that democratic solidarity results not from the discovery of a set of shared beliefs or practices.. p. 1991.. Reverie is an individualized experience that opens consciousness to the possibility of engaging the other in his or her full otherness. The former accepts the ﬂuid nature of identity. xxxviii. to come: even when there is democracy it never exists. Reverie loosens rigid patterns of exclusion. Although his idiom and political context were different. emphasis in original). pp. perhaps narcissistic. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. turn toward self-absorbed reverie strips away the barriers to authentic commonality. belonging to the time of the promise. p. to the contrary. rather than imposed from above or from the outside. that accepts the ultimate ﬁnitude of every human being. It is necessary. it is never present. in each of its future times. to what Nancy refers to as ‘being in common’ rather than communion.. in its very formlessness. Rousseauean reverie causes patterns of particular association and afﬁliation to evaporate and. in any empirical or ideal place. It is what Jean-Luc Nancy has called a ‘lack of identity’ which. just beyond the law. as Nancy calls it. but without letting itself be absorbed into a common substance. namely. it will always remain. which would at last be just. be they homo-fraternal and phallogocentric. preservation and/or cultivation of a common set of cultural practices. norms and principles. rather than seeking to sublate that ﬁnitude into something more (Nancy. When will we be ready for an experience of freedom and equality that is capable of respectfully experiencing that friendship. in that. 1991.
Derrida imagines a ‘politics of friendship’ in which citizens see beyond the ‘homofraternal and phallogocentric schema’ that have heretofore constrained patterns of identiﬁcation (Derrida. in any form. Reverie’s negation of amour propre creates a clearing. 1997. whereas community is a matter of something quite different. It offers a path to fellowship via the stripping away of identity rather than through its imposition.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
For democracy remains to come. a mode of engaging the other that transcends the conﬁnes of the old discourse of community. to develop a new ‘praxis of community’. and measured up against its measurelessness. with fusion into a body. while the latter attempts to ﬁx it or fuse it.. Rousseau among them. this is its essence in so far as it remains: not only will it remain indeﬁnitely perfectible. allows for the possibility of community:
I start out from the idea that . out of which (what we might call) ‘cosmopolitan citizenship’ or ‘radical democratic citizenship’ can take shape – citizenship that is constituted from the bottom up. of existence inasmuch as it is in common. 1997. 60(1)
. p. they argue. Being in common means. the impossibility of closure. (Derrida. Being in common has nothing to do with communion. Such a thinking constitutes closure because it assigns to community a common being. This
© 2011 The Author. sectarian and aristocratic. but.
An inward. O my democratic friends . has generally involved the pursuit. without the use of cultural markers. and sharing this (narcissistic) ‘lack of identity’ (Nancy. it contributes to what is perhaps the greatest service that affect can provide for democracy.. or bourgeois. Civic identity. into a unique and ultimate identity that would no longer be exposed.. it remains the theme of a non-presentable concept . hence always insufﬁcient and future. 25–6).
iv:510. affects that produce this sense of civic-mindedness. Although Rousseau described his embrace of reverie as originating in the desire to escape. such that he ‘puts himself in no class but ﬁnds his bearings in all’ (E. answer my call. For this reason. This is what I call you to. practices and. in other words. has implications not only for moral education but for civic affect as well.90
new praxis. democratic theorists have begun to think about the institutions. let us act so that henceforth there will be friends of this “sovereign master friendship”. The lament. of late.23 The Reveries. even a refusal of. my friends. What matters. The Reveries can be read either as a desire to escape society or as a longing for it. as he imagines it. inclines moral agents toward this disposition of tolerance and openness and. Our willingness to engage civically will always depend. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012.25 Derrida’s The Politics of Friendship exhorts democratic citizens to imagine forms of democratic friendship that can energize and democratize modern polities:‘O. in the Rousseauean sense. against the grain of inherited cultural practices and norms. p. Time spent in reverie. It must pursue community while resisting closure. xiii:378). this is our responsibility’ (Derrida. Emile is educated to love what is most essentially human in all people. 236. Rousseau’s reveries were directly inspired by his exile from civic life – his failure. on our ability to imagine a future polity in which we can play a meaningful role.
Democratic Citizenship and the Substance of Reverie
Rousseauean reverie begins with a withdrawal from. iii:255. to participate in a way of life he once called ‘a hundred times more ardent and delightful than that of a mistress’ (PE. as Rousseau says of Emile. it becomes apparent in reading Rousseau’s text that his reveries were at least equally motivated by a desire for society as they were by a desire to escape it. ‘There is no friend’ does not mean that there is no friendship: ‘[I]f presently there is no friend. emphasis in original). in fact. 1997. as such. there is no friend’. it was rather a reﬂection of profound concern. even mutually constitutive. to some extent.24 Perhaps this longing for community was fantasy – no doubt it was – but all community is to some extent imaginary. away from all social interaction.
© 2011 The Author. But Rousseau’s revulsion for politics was not a reﬂection of indifference. he repeats at the beginning of each chapter. for which Rousseauean reverie provides a useful model. must operate negatively. iii:151). Rousseauean reverie offers an entry point into what democratic friendship might look like. taken from Montaigne. Rousseau turns inward not (only) out of narcissism but also to ﬁnd the fellowship he deeply desired but never found in his personal life. though Derrida is unable to say much about what democratic friendship would look like. from the perspective of Rousseauean republicanism. Montaigne’s lament simultaneously expresses a critique of friendship as it is practiced in contemporary society and a longing for true friendship. political life. expresses a longing for friendship. 60(1)
. is that citizens be disposed to look beyond their private goals and interests and toward those goals and interests that they share with their fellow citizens.22 Reverie’s capacity to strip away cultural prejudices and preconceptions offers the possibility of an authentically cosmopolitan civic affect. a new ‘praxis of community’.‘generalize our views and consider in our pupil abstract man’. reveals those two opposite impulses to be closely related. a new way to. its state of perpetual becoming. content to emphasize democracy’s indeterminacy.
in an essay on democratic education. However. but also of oneself and of nature. 1994.‘il n’y a plus de non-moi’ (there is no longer not-me) as Gaston Bachelard put it (1960. But she must also. potentially. a corresponding concern for their welfare. ultimately. it is a love of existence. and be eager to understand humanity in its ‘strange’ guises. and values. This is pantheism. but in the Reveries he provided an answer to his own skepticism. diverse democracies. Martha Nussbaum. generally meant love of la patrie. the love inspired by reverie is cosmopolitan – it is a love of order really. undeterred by traits that are strange to her. a love that evokes the savage’s aversion to the suffering of others and. though perhaps not the inclination. what Rousseau encountered in reverie – the human heart. toward original goodness. 60(1)
. universalism. 4). But they do point toward the more expansive attachments that Rousseau acknowledged to be superior even to patriotism. In reverie. cosmopolitanism – dispositions that can be very useful. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. the only place he can commune with human beings in the immediate. including Rousseau. Reverie accesses
© 2011 The Author. learn to recognize humanity wherever she encounters it. reverie is. and centrally. Reverie was initially resignation for Rousseau – a concession that happiness was no longer possible for him in society – but it surprised him with a new way to commune with the hearts of other men and women. That was. writes the following:
The student in the United States. even necessary in a heterogeneous polity. in a time of corruption. doubt that a general love of humanity can elicit the intensity of emotion necessary for patriotism. for example. even more so. 144). for Rousseau.
In exile. tolerance and love of humankind – are widely regarded as critical to the ﬂourishing of today’s large. the only remaining pathway to a love of humankind. There is a love of humankind inspired by reverie. The dispositions inspired by reverie are not the exclusive or patriotic ones that Rousseau believed would support the kind of society he envisioned in the Social Contract or. Many. aspirations. The dispositions elicited by reverie – openness. may continue to regard herself as in part deﬁned by her particular loves – for her family. She must learn enough about the different to recognize common aims.We lose ourselves in reverie just as we did in love of la patrie. even for her country. in Rousseau’s early writings. especially Rousseau’s highly exclusive patriotism. p. her religious and/or ethnic and/or racial community or communities. experienced through an unmediated evocation of sentiment. sensory way nature intended. p. and enough about these common ends to see how variously they are instantiated in the many cultures and many histories (Nussbaum. The love of humanity felt in reverie is perhaps too abstract to yield affection for actually existing human beings. The path Rousseau favored was not multicultural but pre-cultural. The greatest happiness for Rousseau lay in a communion des coeurs which. And yet. for such an openhearted friendship. of others to be sure. in the Government of Poland. for example. Reverie does what Rousseau says we must do at the beginning of the Second Discourse – go back in time. Rousseau was himself skeptical about humanity’s capacity to achieve this expansive love of others. Rousseau came to view reverie as the surest path to an appreciation of the commonality of human beings and an understanding of what Nussbaum calls our ‘common ends’.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
Reverie provides the basis.
DAS = Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. Rousseau writes: ‘The more the social bond stretches. 147). Founders Hall 114. who love everyone in order to love no-one. p. iii:151. all of which are discussed below. too apolitical.. Grace G. 5 The phrase is Marcel Raymond’s. I have used the following abbreviations: C = Confessions. LB = Letter to Beaumont. email: jneidleman@ laverne. He is author of The General Will is Citizenship: Inquiries into French Political Thought (Rowman & Littleﬁeld. he did not relinquish his desire for it. deserted for very long. University of La Verne. University of La Verne. 4 In a letter to Malesherbes. 3 See Notes 1 and 2. Rousseau and Montaigne longed for human interaction as it could be. (Accepted: 6 September 2010) About the Author
Jason Neidleman is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of La Verne. Rousseau so abstracted away from actually existing human beings that the ones he came to love existed only in his imagination. p. 1990. 1962.. 2010). Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. Rousseau was motivated by a desire to return to his humanity and. p. SC = Social Contract. 1950 3rd St. v:578). in reverie. NH = Julie or the New Heloise. At base. His most recent publication is ‘ “Par le bon usage de ma liberté”: Freedom and Rousseau’s Reconstituted Christianity’. 1990–). Arthur Melzer states the case in more nuanced fashion:‘The phenomenon of morality . as it were. He is currently at work on a monograph on Rousseau and truth seeking. in Stanley Hoffmann and Christie McDonald (eds). p. to their English translation in the CollectedWritings of Rousseau (Rousseau. then. Jason Neidleman. GM = Geneva Manuscript. 2001). when available. thereby. 2 In a fragment. More recent interpretations have begun to disrupt this consensus. Rousseau and Freedom (Cambridge University Press. more just. DI = Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men. GP = Government of Poland. just as Montaigne’s lament was much more than just a critique of friendship.92
universal truths not through the study of particularity but directly. Frederick Watkins described Rousseau as an ‘outspoken enemy of all cosmopolitan tendencies’ in the introduction to his edited volume of Rousseau’s political writings (Watkins. Roosevelt (1990) has made compelling use of Rousseau’s writings on Saint-Pierre to call into question the anti-cosmopolitan reading of Rousseau. Craig Calhoun (2007) makes a similar argument in a contemporary context. even in withdrawing from society. 6 In the Social Contract.. Rousseau described Saint-Pierre as ‘like a God among men’ (iii:659). 386. See Todorov (2001). However. 2001. as well as articles on Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Michel Foucault. O’Hagan (1999) and Rosenblatt (2008). It was because Rousseau so desperately craved social belonging that he was compelled radically to recoil from debased versions of it. too cosmopolitan to permit a return to civic life. to human beings. through the contemplation of what is universal. R = Reveries of the Solitary Walker. we will do so accompanied by a deeply felt set of moral convictions. It may be that reverie is too detached. more democratic. ML = Moral Letters. Perhaps he too had become like the cosmopolitans he castigated in the ﬁrst version of the Social Contract. CA 91750. D = Rousseau Judge of Jean-Jacques: Dialogues. References to Rousseau’s works are ﬁrst to the Pléiade edition (Rousseau.. La Verne. Rousseau explained that. 107). used to evoke the Reveries’ paradoxical quest for humanity even in his very withdrawal from it (Raymond. 30). Anyone who dreams of an improved. It is possible that. From them I formed a charming society for myself of which I did not feel myself to be unworthy’ (i:1140. if we are able to return. more fraternal polity will have to face that possibility. but rather in patriots or citizens in their exclusive respect for their fellow citizens’ (Melzer. I soon peopled it with beings in accordance with my heart . 1963. does not really arise in and between human beings as such. where he teaches political theory. ‘My imagination did not leave the earth. Department of Political Science. Can this apolitical universality be made to serve civic purposes? As previously argued.
© 2011 The Author. USA. E = Emile. iii:151). the looser it becomes’ (iii:254. 1959–). Ronald Beiner calls Rousseau ‘anti-cosmopolitan’ ( Beiner. 159). PE = Discourse on Political Economy. 2002. adorned this way. 7 ‘Interest and commiseration must in some way be conﬁned and compressed to be activated’ (iii:254–5. LM = Letters Written from the Mountain. xl).edu
1 See also Riley. Rousseau’s reveries were as much a longing for society as they were a rejection of it. 60(1)
‘my reason chooses the feeling the heart prefers’ (D. the Prussian state also admitted these supra-national. Neuhouser (2008) and Kolodny (2010).g. iv:968. and functions reliably only in conjunction with the sentiment intérieur. see Cooper (1999. p. This is the sense in which Rousseau generally uses the term and the sense in which it is used in the next section of the article. when it is broadened beyond an exclusive concern for oneself.. usually in opposition to dogma or prejudice and usually when it is tethered to sentiment (e. makes clear that Rousseau’s conception of reason is not at odds with his emphasis on sentiment: ‘One can .‘passion’ his term for those that corrupt. iv:81). D. because sentiment is the voice of God. 163–4). i:1571. 19 NH. it reconciles love of self and love of others. But reason functions always in conjunction with the passions.. emphasis in original). vi:405. p. like democracy. To Franquières. 12 The concept of amour propre is central to Rousseau’s critique of modern society. p.‘sentiment’ is Rousseau’s term for those feelings and emotions that tend toward goodness. as Meinecke described it. 7). 16 With regard to questions of truth. iii:35. 1965–. For the most part. according to Rousseau. referred to reverie as ‘senseless’ (cited in Garrard. viii:23. which is itself dispassionate. p. In a contest between Rousseau’s sentiment and the ‘truths urged against [him]’ (Observations. 25 George Marcus. an early version of the Social Contract. ii:493. 9 In fact. which Rousseau calls amour de soi. 1991. Rousseau was certain that. in the sense that it is always coming. Le Persiﬂeur. Friedrich Meinecke described patriotism and cosmopolitanism as parallel developments: ‘Since the German national culture had taken on a clearly universalistic character. In society. for example.. iv:547. Preface to Narcissus. 14). For Rousseau. Sometimes. the question was moot for Rousseau because. Reason remains authoritative for Rousseau:‘The common authority is that of reason. xiii:375). it ceaselessly resists collectivity itself as much as it resists the individual)’ (Nancy. 2002. in the Geneva Manuscript.. i:170). in a text on what he calls ‘Rousseau’s rationalism’. Cheryl Hall (2005) notes that modern theorists have for the most part eschewed discussion of the passions. R. I do not recognize any other’ (Rousseau. xxxvii:17). is the particular instantiation of universal ideals. better than my reason’ (i:1016. though it need not necessarily result in corruption. as he put it in the Third Walk. 11 Charles Hendel has suggested that Rousseau’s ‘articles of faith’ may have been intended originally to extend beyond particular societies to a ‘federation of nations’ (Hendel. Rousseau’s writings on international peace can be read as the next stage of an argument that begins with the ‘broadening of ideas’ from the self to the patria. from a soil completely imbued with universal and cosmopolitan ideas?’ (Meinecke. deﬁnes emotion as critical to the derivation and implementation of rational precepts. ii:188. 230). Rousseau refers to this tendency as amour propre and contrasts it with natural man’s entirely self-regarding pursuit of his own interest. even Scripture. and from the beginning to the end of his literary career. Passion for Hall continues to be defended on the basis of some antecedently deﬁned good. one must truly know those circumstances’ ( Williams. pp. for Rousseau. She does not defend passion as a good in and of itself. 1948. 1965–. p. Rousseau suggests that amour propre could be directed toward a concern for the welfare of others (E. but they are deluded (D. endlessly. 21 See E. Rousseau invokes reason in opposition to harmful passions (e. in general. i:170. however. i:170). p. Rousseau suggested that the two need not be understood as mutually exclusive: ‘We conceive of the general society on the basis of our particular societies. he invokes the passions as a threat to reason. However. 22 ‘Community without community is to come. the end toward which she defends passion remains cognitive. At its best.RO U S S E AU A N D C O S M O P O L I TA N I S M
8 David Lay Williams has recently made the case that Rousseau’s conception of justice has both transcendent and contextual dimensions: ‘There are better and worse applications of justice in any given context. he insisted that they were the only justiﬁcation for philosophical inquiry. ‘my heart replied . at the heart of every collectivity (because it never stops coming. the establishment of small republics makes us think about the large one. 15 The Baron d’Holbach. 14 In the preface to the First Discourse. emphasis in original). Robert Derathé. i:1571. human beings inevitably begin to measure themselves in comparison to others. At times he gives ‘passion’ a positive charge but. 71. a loss of self in common humanity. ii:37). Those who argue the reverse do so to elevate themselves. Political Studies © 2011 Political Studies Association POLITICAL STUDIES: 2012. 13 The second of Rousseau’s three moral maxims in Emile is the following:‘One pities in others only those ills from which one does not feel oneself exempt’ (iv:507.
© 2011 The Author. v:178). In order to serve justice well. D. xiii:448. Rousseau committed himself to the pursuit of these truths. ix:53). i:879. Sentiment is almost always given a positive charge. but it is also selﬂess. for example. ii.g. in the Sixth Walk.4). but as instrumental to other goods. i:1112). xiii:409). Rousseau wrote:‘Take away the sentiment intérieur and I defy all the modern philosophers together to prove to Berkeley that the body exists’ (Rousseau. Rousseau writes:‘to do good is the truest happiness the human heart can savor’. iv:594. love of existence and of humanity was itself a good. On this account. For a nuanced discussion of the various manifestations of amour propre. a turn toward oneself.962. Meinecke wrote about the French nation in similar terms: ‘the France of the Revolution – the ﬁrst great national state in Europe that was consciously based on the autonomy of the nation – did it not burst forth from the womb of the eighteenth century. universalistic elements when it used the impulses of this culture to renew itself ’ (Meinecke. 1970. i:841. 538. it captures what he regarded as the source of modern corruption. 23 For example. 33. 21) European patriotism. as he put it. p. love is the antecedently deﬁned good. 17 Rousseau praises reason at times as well. particularly when Rousseau speaks of the sentiment intérieur. 1934. 2010. However. Amour propre is born in society as a desire for the recognition of others and tends to manifest itself in the form of domination and inequality. i:140). see also p. However. 1970. 18 The truths apprehended would be ‘more limited but more certain’ (LB. i:1018. viii:49). Rousseau tells us that he will make sentiment the ultimate arbiter – above his reason. By contrast. he does not give sentiment the positive normative charge that Rousseau does. viii:21). In a certain sense. 66). 10 In his history of the German nation. He illuminates the role of emotion in political life and diffuses claims that it must be suppressed but does not go so far as to suggest that it is the basis of good citizenship (Marcus. and we do not really begin to become men until after we have been citizens’ (iii:287. 2003. appeal to the inner sentiment without ceasing to have a rational posture’ (Derathé. Hall argues that passion should be a component of political deliberation. ch. 60(1)
. 24 Reverie is narcissistic. 20 Rousseau’s use of the term ‘passion’ is not precise. a happiness that Rousseau conceded had not been available to him for many years (i:1051.
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