Access

You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies

Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies

Robert Wokler
Edited by Bryan Garsten
with an introduction by Christopher Brooke
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 400
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sn2t
Find more content in these subjects:
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies
    Book Description:

    Robert Wokler was one of the world's leading experts on Rousseau and the Enlightenment, but some of his best work was published in the form of widely scattered and difficult-to-find essays. This book collects for the first time a representative selection of his most important essays on Rousseau and the legacy of Enlightenment political thought. These essays concern many of the great themes of the age, including liberty, equality and the origins of revolution. But they also address a number of less prominent debates, including those over cosmopolitanism, the nature and social role of music and the origins of the human sciences in the Enlightenment controversy over the relationship between humans and the great apes. These essays also explore Rousseau's relationships to Rameau, Pufendorf, Voltaire and Marx; reflect on the work of important earlier scholars of the Enlightenment, including Ernst Cassirer and Isaiah Berlin; and examine the influence of the Enlightenment on the twentieth century. One of the central themes of the book is a defense of the Enlightenment against the common charge that it bears responsibility for the Terror of the French Revolution, the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth-century and the Holocaust.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4240-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, History, Political Science
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD (pp. vii-viii)
    Bryan Garsten

    Robert Wokler was renowned for his brilliant oral performances at academic colloquia and for the elegant essays that often resulted when he set those performances, and the research behind them, down in prose. Too much of that prose has been difficult to find—dispersed in a whole variety of publications, many of which remain difficult to access even with modern technology. Near the end of his life, once it became clear that he would not have a chance to finish writing the books he had planned, Wokler conceived the idea of putting a number of his articles and essays together...

  4. INTRODUCTION (pp. ix-xiv)
    Christopher Brooke

    The French police began their round-up of stateless Jews in the summer of 1942. In Occupied France, thousands were brought to theVélodrome d’hiverin Paris on 16 July pending their removal, first to the transit camp at Drancy, then to the death camps in Poland. In the Unoccupied Zone, the arrest of refugees by the Vichy authorities and their handover to the Germans began in August. In November, the demarcation line vanished when German and Italian forces invaded Vichy France as an immediate response to Allied landings in French North Africa. Isaac Wochiler was a refugee from Köln, who...

  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. ABBREVIATIONS USED IN CITATIONS OF ROUSSEAU’S WORK (pp. xvii-xxii)
  7. Chapter 1 PERFECTIBLE APES IN DECADENT CULTURES: ROUSSEAU’S ANTHROPOLOGY REVISITED (pp. 1-28)

    The diffusion of Rousseau’s influence over the past two centuries has been so wide and so substantial that hardly a subject or movement appears to have escaped his clutches. According to the old litany, he was responsible only for nationalism, romanticism, collectivism and the French Revolution; now a good many of his admirers, and some of his critics too, inform us that psychiatry and structuralism are also derived largely from his writings; and in the past generation we have witnessed yet another monumental proclamation on his behalf—to the effect that he founded the science of anthropology. In his ‘extraordinarily...

  8. Chapter 2 RITES OF PASSAGE AND THE GRAND TOUR: DISCOVERING, IMAGINING AND INVENTING EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION IN THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT (pp. 29-45)

    In the Middle Ages the diverse peoples of Europe could have imagined themselves drawn together, both theologically and politically, by their shared Christian faith and the vestiges of an imperial polity marked by the absence of internal frontiers. While their multiple allegiances were often in conflict, at least the appearance of an overarching framework that united them could be articulated in the common language of their diplomats, priests and professors. But with the Reformation and its attendant wars of religion, together with the dynasties whose authority was consolidated in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, that European community, defined by Western...

  9. Chapter 3 ROUSSEAU ON RAMEAU AND REVOLUTION (pp. 46-67)

    The controversy about the nature and extent of Rousseau’s influence upon the French Revolution of 1789 began around 1790¹ and has not yet been settled. I suppose that like most important historical disputes it probably never will be resolved in any conclusive way, largely because a truly satisfactory treatment of the problem unavoidably presupposes our having precise answers to questions which are even more difficult to settle—questions, for instance, about the general causes of revolutions, about the characteristics of an historical influence and about the distinction between the meaning an author imparts to his theory and the significance its...

  10. Chapter 4 VAGABOND REVERIE (pp. 68-79)

    From internal evidence inThe New Héloïse, whose events are portrayed as having transpired over a period of more than a dozen years from around 1732, it has long been known that Rousseau invented a fictional protagonist, Saint-Preux, of exactly his own age. To this central figure of his story, as hisConfessionsmake plain,¹ he attributes both refined sensibilities and weaknesses of character deliberately drawn from his own nature, and by depicting him as a peripatetic tutor who is deemed by Julie’s father to be unworthy of her love on account of being beneath her station, he conveys the...

  11. Chapter 5 THE ENLIGHTENMENT HOSTILITIES OF VOLTAIRE AND ROUSSEAU (pp. 80-87)

    When Voltaire died at the end of May 1778, Rousseau remarked that his own death must follow soon, since their lives had been inextricably bound each with the other. Almost as if to prove his point, he in fact expired five weeks later. Neither Rousseau nor Voltaire could have foreseen, however, that it was their fate to be joined together in resurrection, apotheosis and damnation as well. Disinterred from their quiet country graves in the 1790s, the remains of these two most prominent figures of the French Enlightenment were brought to Paris and lodged opposite one another in the Pantheon,...

  12. Chapter 6 ROUSSEAU’S PUFENDORF: NATURAL LAW AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF COMMERCIAL SOCIETY (pp. 88-112)

    Rousseau subscribed more earnestly than perhaps any other major thinker of modern history to the proposition that human nature is shaped by politics. No figure of the Enlightenment took greater pride in his political identity than did the ‘Citizen of Geneva’ who heralded most of his principal works with this author’s flourish on their title page; no one before or since was so convinced, as he put it, that ‘everything depends upon politics’ and that the character of a people is always what its government makes of it.¹ At the same time, both in his personal life and in almost...

  13. Chapter 7 ROUSSEAU’S READING OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS AND THE THEOLOGY OF COMMERCIAL SOCIETY (pp. 113-120)

    In theTroisième DialogueRousseau suggests that all his writings pursued a single theme—to the effect, as he puts it, that ‘Nature made mankind happy and good but … society depraves and renders it miserable’.¹Emile, in particular, he adds, ‘is nothing but a treatise on the original goodness of mankind’. He no doubt conceivedEmilein that vein, since the opening line of its first book heralds precisely the claim that in theDialogueshe would declare to be his works’ chief contention: ‘Everything is good when it springs from the hands of our Creator; everything degenerates when...

  14. Chapter 8 THE MANUSCRIPT AUTHORITY OF POLITICAL THOUGHTS (pp. 121-135)

    By way of commenting on the study of manuscripts I mean in these remarks to put a plea for toleration, or methodological eclecticism, as distinct from both the philosophical and especially the contextualist approaches to the interpretation of political argument now prevalent among Anglo-American theorists. Uncovering manuscripts might be thought to lead merely towards arcane knowledge gained from subtextual probes with scalpels and lenses, and in conducting archival research I have indeed sometimes felt myself transported by otherworldly attractions, sniffing the glue of the secret diaries of long-departed friends. The case I wish to advance here, however, has less to...

  15. Chapter 9 PREPARING THE DEFINITIVE EDITION OF THE CORRESPONDANCE DE ROUSSEAU (pp. 136-153)

    To thank Ralph Leigh for an honourable mention in a note of his edition of theCorrespondance complète de Rousseauwas to risk the benign sarcasm of a man who knew the full measure of the recognition due to him. ‘What do you mean, honour?’, he could growl at so slight an expression of gratitude. ‘It’s immortality’—thus bestowed on the still living through a power Leigh shared only with the Académie française. Modesty was perhaps not his most conspicuous trait, but greater sign of it would in no way have enhanced his academic achievement, which was to set unprecedented...

  16. Chapter 10 ROUSSEAU’S TWO CONCEPTS OF LIBERTY (pp. 154-184)

    It is the misfortune of extraordinary doctrines that they suffer a remarkably common fate in the hands of their interpreters, and at first glance there may appear to be nothing very special about the prevalent distortions of the political thought of Rousseau. His ideas, like those of other great thinkers, have been widely embraced or denounced with almost equal abandon, in fierce and recurrent controversies which merely reflect the striking impact his philosophy has had upon his followers from the French Revolution to the present day. It is not particularly odd that professed disciples should have obscured his meaning as...

  17. Chapter 11 THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY BIRTH PANGS OF MODERNITY (pp. 185-213)

    It is as true of the human sciences as of the sciences of nature that, by and large, only the most recent formulations of their overriding principles are deemed worthy of scientific scrutiny. The rudiments of physical anthropology and then biology and linguistics around the end of the eighteenth century, followed by sociology and social statistics in the early nineteenth century, and economics and political science in the early twentieth century, were characteristically sketched by pioneers whose fresh perspectives were in each case designed to free themselves of the excess baggage of their precursors. In virtually all disciplines, each major...

  18. Chapter 12 ROUSSEAU AND MARX (pp. 214-232)

    The political theories of Rousseau and Marx arouse stronger feelings than do most doctrines, and they have exercised a greater influence on the course of social revolutions than have the ideas of any other modern writers. But while each continues to attract widespread interest, they are seldom compared with one another, and only in Italy has there been any extensive discussion of the nature of the conceptual relations between them. Bobbio, Cotta, Mondolfo and Marramao have all written on the subject over the past forty years or so,¹ and Galvano della Volpe and Lucio Colletti have each devoted books to...

  19. Chapter 13 ERNST CASSIRER’S ENLIGHTENMENT: AN EXCHANGE WITH BRUCE MAZLISH (pp. 233-243)

    In 1932 there appeared a study of the European Enlightenment of seminal significance. The book immediately caught the attention of the general public and for the past sixty years has coloured assessments of that intellectual movement put forward, mainly by its critics, of virtually all denominations. No treatment of eighteenth-century thought in any language has been published in more editions. The work is elegant, light-hearted and urbane, but I believe that its influence upon interpretations of the Enlightenment has been sinister. In developing the proposition that eighteenth-century thinkers made science the new religion of mankind and offered a kind of...

  20. Chapter 14 ISAIAH BERLIN’S ENLIGHTENMENT AND COUNTER-ENLIGHTENMENT (pp. 244-259)

    Isaiah Berlin often compared himself to a tailor, who only cuts his cloth on commission, or to a taxi driver who goes nowhere without first being hailed,¹ a journeyman philosopher, rather like Locke’s philosophical underlabourer, so frequently invoked in the tradition of Oxford analytical philosophy. One such commission, from Scribner’sDictionary of the History of Ideas, led him to produce the essay on ‘The Counter-Enlightenment’ in 1973 which is commonly said to mark the invention of that term, at least in English.² In fact, the expression was not at all invented by Berlin. It is perhaps odd that the French,...

  21. Chapter 15 PROJECTING THE ENLIGHTENMENT (pp. 260-278)

    In three chapters ofAfter VirtueAlasdair MacIntyre describes what he terms ‘the Enlightenment Project’ whose breakdown underlies the chaos of moral values in contemporary culture.¹ That project was in his view centrally concerned with providing universal standards by which to justify particular courses of action in every sphere of life, and although Enlightenment thinkers manifestly did not agree as to exactlywhichprinciples might be acceptable to rational persons, he claims they nevertheless collectively propagated the doctrine that such principles must exist, and that moral conduct must therefore be subject to intelligible vindication or criticism. Many post-Enlightenment philosophers have...

  22. NOTES (pp. 279-362)
  23. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF THE PUBLISHED WORK OF ROBERT WOKLER (pp. 363-374)
  24. INDEX (pp. 375-396)