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Lecture 21

HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 21: Political Philosophy, Totalitarianism, Social Contract

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Kenneth Bartlett

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Lecture 19
J. J. Rousseau
Emile (1762)
The social contract: The bible of the revolution
Popular sovereignty
o Traced back to the sc.
Freedom and the roots of totalitarianism
A publicist
But didn’t have anything to put in its place
Not a mature political philosophy
Nothing that could stimulate an alternate way of structuring human society
Didn’t learn very much
Act, think reasonably; think rationally
o Why? How? Too vague.
Wasn’t a builder of institutions, he was an satirist
Not a profit of the future
Was an aristocrat
Thought in terms of traditions
o Revolution should be restorative rather than fundamentally changing society
o Didn’t have the ability to connect with normal people, however, intellectuals
o World view: Rational aristocrat (conservative)
Seldom build huge followings
o Approach and expression
Too rational, too elitist
o Seldom leaders of revolution
Dramatic and revolutionary
“Man is born free, but…”
o “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains.”
A man cut off from his own society
Able to criticize society while still living in it
Sc: sense of being a book of prophesy
Journalistic style
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Voltaire was too embedded in society to view it from Rouss. POV
Different from everybody else
o He saw that society was imperfect in almost every day
o His place in it was determined by a CORRUPT world
o To escape corruption, you must break free from it
Came from Geneva
o Small, tightly knit society
o Governed by patricians
o Attempted to turn the state of Geneva into a new Jerusalem
Calvinist conviction
o Attempt at a perfect society
o Rouss realized that giving yourself over to principles was something that was
worthwhile and opposite
Issac Rousseau
o Watch maker and dance instructor
o Calvinists did not dance
o Lived in a make believe world
Delusions of grandeur
o An evil world had thrusted him into a menial trade
o Always broke
o Read classical authors
o Had a good education despite having little schooling
Mother was obsessed with romantic knowledge
o Had an undisciplined education
o Died giving birth
Sc: self contradictory
o Lacks discipline
o No coherence to ideas
Had various nannies bc his father couldn’t pay them
o Strange relationship with women
o Ideal world, but flawed
Familial conditions
o Relationships with older women
o “Looking for the mother he had lost”
Had five children, gave them all up to adoption
o Wife didn’t talk back
o Wasn’t going to turn him into something he wasn’t
Emotional cripple
o Turned against all his friends
o Didn’t acquire mistresses
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