• Autonomy, Authenticity and Authority: The Rational Freedom of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Peter Critchley (see profile)
    Ethics, Political science--Philosophy
    Item Type:
    Jean Jacques Rousseau, rousseau, Political philosophy
    Permanent URL:
    This book argues that what makes Rousseau’s philosophy so vibrant and meaningful is its grounding in the most profound questions of being. Although Rousseau valued rational understanding as much as any philosopher, he was aware that reason was thin and misleading if it was concerned solely with pure intellect detached from human being. Hence Rousseau’s view that true philosophy rests upon an inner determination which makes it clear that the philosopher loves the truth rather than merely wants to identify it. Philosophy needs to rest on something more profound than the abstracted intellect; this is the human ontology. For Rousseau, the philosophical enterprise is inextricably connected with the consideration of being as a whole. Limited to intellectual activity alone, philosophy is not a genuine search for truth and is certain to leave the most important questions unanswered to the extent that it fails to engage with humanity’s whole existence. Philosophers need to penetrate beyond the intellect to identify the principles which were ‘engraved in the human heart in indelible characters’ and thus find truth in the comprehension of the depths of being. This book shows that Rousseau's great achievement is to have embodied this true philosophy in a viable social and political order, uniting the inner landscape and the outer landscape. In coming to understand essential being, Rousseau makes it possible to comprehend the fundamental features of human society, thus enabling us to reach the level of universal principle. The moral "ought-to-be" of philosophy is thus grounded in something real, in human nature and its potentialities, rather than in something impossibly ideal, some abstract standard. Rousseau thus gives individuals a vision of the ideal human society that they would, by nature, create and flourish in in order to become truly human beings. With Rousseau, politics and ethics are united in a social order that enables the creative realisation of the human ontology.
    Published as:
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
    All Rights Reserved
    Share this:


    Item Name: doc autonomy-authenticity-and-authority.doc
    Activity: Downloads: 149