Rousseaus Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition

Paperback | August 1, 2010

byFrederick Neuhouser

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This book is the first comprehensive study of Rousseau's rich and complex theory of the type of self-love (amour propre ) that, for him, marks the central difference between humans and the beasts. Amour propre is the passion that drives human individuals to seek the esteem, approval,admiration, or love - the recognition - of their fellow beings. Neuhouser reconstructs Rousseau's understanding of what the drive for recognition is, why it is so problematic, and how its presence opens up far-reaching developmental possibilities for creatures that possess it. One of Rousseau'scentral theses is that amour propre in its corrupted, manifestations - pride or vanity - is the principal source of an array of evils so widespread that they can easily appear to be necessary features of the human condition: enslavement, conflict, vice, misery, and self-estrangement. Yet Rousseaualso argues that solving these problems depends not on suppressing or overcoming the drive for recognition but on cultivating it so that it contributes positively to the achievement of freedom, peace, virtue, happiness, and unalienated selfhood. Indeed, Rousseau goes so far as to claim that, despiteits many dangers, the need for recognition is a condition of nearly everything that makes human life valuable and that elevates it above mere animal existence: rationality, morality, freedom - subjectivity itself - would be impossible for humans if it were not for amour propre and the relations toothers it impels us to establish.

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This book is the first comprehensive study of Rousseau's rich and complex theory of the type of self-love (amour propre ) that, for him, marks the central difference between humans and the beasts. Amour propre is the passion that drives human individuals to seek the esteem, approval,admiration, or love - the recognition - of their fell...

Frederick Neuhouser received his PhD in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1988 and has held teaching positions at Harvard University, University of California, and Cornell University. He is currently Professor of Philosophy and Viola Manderfeld Professor of German at Barnard College, Columbia University and Affiliate Scholar at t...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:296 pagesPublished:August 1, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199592055

ISBN - 13:9780199592050

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Table of Contents

I. Defining Human Nature1. The Nature of Amour PropreII. Diagnosis2. The Dangers of Amour Propre3. The Varieties of Inflamed Amour Propre4. Why Is Inflamed Amour Propre So Common?III. Prescription5. Social and Domestic RemediesIV. Curing the Malady with Its Own Resources6. The Standpoint of Reason7. The Role of Amour Propre in Forming Rational Subjects

Editorial Reviews

"This work does an admirable job of clarifying the central notion of Rousseau's philosophy, amour-propre, by placing it within the context of a theodicy. It is arguably the first comprehensive treatment of Rousseau's theory of amour-propre, or, the desire for recognition in the eyes of otherhumaan beings...While Neuhouser's book may appeal to philosophers of religion, political theorists, thinkers interested in psychology, and interpersonal communications, it should appeal to Rousseau scholars especially, It is one of the most nauanced and comprehensive studies of Rousseau's theory ofamour-propre available today. His treatment of the theory is persuasive, and he stays true to Rousseau's thought." --Jeff Linz, The Heythrop Journal