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Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 6:17amSanction this postReply
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Excellent summary of Rousseau's ideas. In the political realm, Rousseau is the major ideological enemy.

One minor nit-pick. My understanding is that in a plebiscite one could vote only 'yes' or 'no'. There were no alternatives presented by the legislators.

Post 1

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 8:33amSanction this postReply
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Interesting to note is that today the definition of democracy tends to be connected to Rousseau, rather to the old interpretation of voluntary agreement. I find it most fascinating that democratic decisions always must be enforced against the will of those whose particulary interests (term coined by Rousseau) are against the decision of the majority.

However, today democracy is equal to democratur. While the former states that there can be a consent between multiple parties, the latter states that this consent has to be enforced even against the will of the minority. Ayn Rand always pointed out that the first definition is what made countries great, while the latter is what finally brings down a free country.

I just thought that there is put to few emphasis on the first one.


Post 2

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 8:59amSanction this postReply
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Thank you, Ed, that was a wonderful summary of Rousseau's philosophy.

This point was interesting, "Rulers who followed Rousseau’s philosophy were able to demonstrate a vibrant but deceptive humanitarianism. They expressed love for humanity while at the same time crushing those who disagreed with the general will."

Although traditionally Rousseau's philosophy is linked as a forerunner to the totalitarian left, I detect a proto-fascist here. Of course the dividing lines between the two are murky at best, but the emphasis on the "omnipotence of the lawgiver" and the "organic conception of the state" has a distinctly fascist flavor to it.

As an interesting side note, although Hegel and Kant get all the ink, Rousseau may have gotten the last word. One can see his touch throughout our culture today; the cult of the personality (modern day posturing Che's), the noble savage as an ideal (enviormentalism), the social contract ("it takes a village"), and the move towards "plebiscite" as the means of creating laws that reflect the "general will".

You also wrote, "Rousseau assigned primacy to instinct, emotion, intuition, feelings, and passion. He believed that these could provide better insights into what is good and real than could reason. Rousseau thus minimized reason and differences in the moral worth of individuals."

After reading that, I got that 'de ja vu' feeling of having been spoon fed this philosophy before, then I remembered:  it was only yesterday, while reading the New York Times!

A wonderful essay, thanks again.

George

(Edited by George W. Cordero on 7/14, 9:47am)


Post 3

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 3:37pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks Max, Rick, and George!

I m pleased that you like my essay on Rousseau.

We certainly have enough philosophical enemies--Plato,  Rousseau,  Kant,  Hegel,  Marx,  Dewey, et al.

Yes,  I agree that Rousseau's influence is still strongly seen in our culture.

: (

Take care.

Ed


Post 4

Thursday, July 14, 2005 - 5:50pmSanction this postReply
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Ed,

You wrote,

"By regarding human beings as means to higher ends, rather than an end in themselves, Rousseau greatly contributed to the intellectual collectivization of man."

In this respect Kant is Rousseau's antipode. Consider this passage from the GROUNDING OF THE METAPHYSICS OF MORALS, "Man exists as an end in himself, not merely as a means for arbitrary use by this of that will." (428)

Fred

Post 5

Friday, July 15, 2005 - 6:42amSanction this postReply
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Wow.  Good article, and I can't remember reading a more vile philosophy - ever, actually.  It really made me sick to my stomach.  You mean to tell me people take this garbage seriously? 

Post 6

Friday, July 15, 2005 - 7:30amSanction this postReply
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Kurt,

I think that the story of "Emile" could have influenced the Jesuit thinking that to control a child's education is to control the man.  It's very obviously a concept taken very seriously by the Islamic Extremists who support those madrasses.

A moment ago I heard a report of such a person who was lauded for starting schools for immigrant children in Leeds, UK.  It chilled me; because we in education, know that children's early experiences have profound effects, later on.

I can just imagine the fear and brainwashing that goes on in those rote-schools.  Perhaps this is the REAL SOURCE of Islamic terrorism. Girls do not attend these schools; that could explain the observation that few suicide bombers have been females.

Rousseau was the messenger; LOOK FOR THE TEACHER.


Post 7

Friday, July 15, 2005 - 3:36pmSanction this postReply
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Sharon,

The other way around: it was Rousseau who observed the Jesuits. Does anyone know if Rousseau had experienced a Jesuit attempt to "shape his soul?"

Post 8

Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 8:54amSanction this postReply
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A general question:

Whereof derives the term "social contract" since I thought that a contract is a consensus form that must be accepted by both parties. However, no democratic society (I know of) ever asked me for my consent to the laws and state in general.
So, where does the term contract come in?
Why isn't it termed social commandment?


Post 9

Saturday, July 16, 2005 - 9:26amSanction this postReply
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Lysander Spooner raised the same question - see "No Treason"...

Post 10

Tuesday, July 19, 2005 - 10:49amSanction this postReply
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Max,

You wrote,


“Whereof derives the term "social contract" since I thought that a contract is a consensus form that must be accepted by both parties. However, no democratic society (I know of) ever asked me for my consent to the laws and state in general.”

(1) I think Rousseau was the first major thinker to use the term and the OED cites him as the first.. The term does not appear in either Hobbes, Locke or Hume. In fact, the earliest appearance in English that I’ve been able to trace occurs in Sidgwick’s (1838-1900) METHOD OF ETHICS,

(2) Your second sentence seems to not recognize the possibility of implicit consent or contract. Locke deals with this in the Second Treatise, Section 119 which I now quote for you.

119. Every man being, as has been shewed, naturally free, and nothing being able to put him into subjection to any earthly power, but only his own consent; it is to be considered, what shall be understood to be a sufficient declaration of a man's consent, to make him subject to the laws of any government. There is a common distinction of an express and a tacit consent, which will concern our present case. No body doubts but an express consent, of any man entering into any society, makes him a perfect member of that society, a subject of that government. The difficulty is, what ought to be looked upon as a tacit consent, and how far it binds, i.e. how far any one shall be looked on to have consented, and thereby submitted to any government, where he has made no expressions of it at all. And to this I say, that every man, that hath any possessions, or enjoyment of any part of the dominions of any government, doth thereby give his tacit consent, and is as far forth obliged to obedience to the laws of that government, during such enjoyment, as any one under it; whether this his possession be of land, to him and his heirs for ever, or a lodging only for a week; or whether it be barely travelling freely on the highway: and, in effect, it reaches as far as the very being of any one within the territories of that government.

Hope that helps.

Fred


Post 11

Saturday, April 18 - 11:17amSanction this postReply
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This article, written in 2005, merits another read.  It is clear that Rousseau was the true father of much of the Progressive movement.  This just jumps out at you as you read the article, but hear the statements from Obama.



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