Sunday, May 10, 2009

42 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

A hundred years earlier, in 1651 to be exact, Hobbes published his Leviathan. A theory on society, based on a social contract. Not because we like eachother that much, but because we are eachother's enemies, but we have to survive.

If there is someone who fundamentally disagreed with Hobbes, then it was Jean-Jaques Rousseau.

The eightteenth century was a busy period....a lot was sciences...a lessening influence of Rome. The Enlightment and Empiricism. A lot is changing dramatically.

In England you see men like Locke and Hume and there predecessors Moore and Hobbes. They write profound treatises on the State and Government. But that is England. And then here is that peculiar fellow, Rousseau, who was (more or long as it lasted) a friend of David Hume.

And he too puts his thoughts to paper about the foundations of the state. And as I said quite the opposite from Hobbes, who started with 'Homo homini lupus' ( Each man is a wolf to the other).

There is something special about Rousseau. It is the age of the Enlightenment...the ratio, which dominates the philosophical discourse.... and then in 1750 Rousseau participated in some kind of essay contest and wrote his 'Discours sur les Sciences et les Arts'

And in this he is almost a counter-Enlightenment. Rousseau claims that the arts and sciences are born from our vices: “Astronomy was born from superstition; eloquence from ambition, hate, flattery, and falsehood; geometry from avarice, physics from vain curiosity; all, even moral philosophy, from human pride.”

Artists, he says, wish first and foremost to be applauded. Their work comes from a sense of wanting to be praised as superior to others. Society begins to emphasize specialized talents rather than virtues such as courage, generosity, and temperance.

It is almost unbelievable, and what is more unbelievable he won a prize with this essay. One thing is clear.....the age of Enlightenment..the age of the Ratio. Probably not everybody was happy with this development, so they had good reason to cheer Rousseau.

He comes up with the old ideal of virtue. Man is not a wolf to his fellowman. On the contrary. In his natural state man is good; it is culture and civilisation that robes him of his natural goodness. Private property makes man bad, makes states go to war.

Private property leads to inequality, slavery and war. Man is free and good by nature. From this perspective Rousseau has a rather pessimistic opinion of civilisation and is extremely critical about the role the ratio should play.

Rousseau accepts that it is impossible to return to our free and unspoiled basic nature. Yet, the question remains, how can we live together and keep our freedom as individuals? Here he suggests that this can be achieved by a Social Contract.

A necessary step in the pursuit of selfpresevation. But contrary to Hobbes, who seperates the sovereign from the subjects, is the collective the sovereign for Rousseau. It is represented by the 'volonté general' (the general will).

Every person should obey this volonté general, giving up his natural freedom, but gaining his civil freedom, which consists of obeying the laws, which you have imposed on yourself.

As I said, a peculiar non rationalistic theory on man. What we see in this aera is the birth of our own age. Philosophers think about scientific method (to begin with Bacon), they think about the nature of mind (Locke, Hume), they think about society (Locke, Hume, Rousseau). All is subject to debate in those days.

It is interesting to think about the question, wheher this social contract idea also applies to our time or that it is just a nice metaphore.

The Discussion

[13:19] Herman Bergson: So far on Rousseau...:-)
[13:20] itsme Frederix: a metaphore for what ... Herman
[13:20] arabella Ella: Herman excuse me again but was it Rousseau who had said 'Man is born free but is everywhere in chains'?
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:20] Herman Bergson: that is the first sentence of his book Du Contract Social Arabella
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: not to the ? but asking also a metaphor for what
[13:21] arabella Ella: ty
[13:21] Herman Bergson: well the idea, that we live in a society which would be based on a social contract...
[13:22] Herman Bergson: as if this is the establishing factor
[13:22] Herman Bergson: the contract idea is a metaphore for the cohesion within society
[13:22] itsme Frederix: oke, optimistic idealism
[13:23] Herman Bergson: and a symbol of free will and personal choice
[13:23] arabella Ella: it sounds like a very democratic process, do you think so?
[13:23] itsme Frederix: don't think so,
[13:23] Osrum Sands: The Social contract can be glimpsed at when citizens vote and the general will sought
[13:23] itsme Frederix: you 've to obey
[13:23] Herman Bergson: the end Rousseau's theory shows some ckacks...
[13:23] hope63 Shepherd: isn't it curious that it took 2000 years to talk about a social contract which was already the basis of solon's reform in athens...:)
[13:24] itsme Frederix: I would say R. would like anarchism
[13:24] Herman Bergson: He talks about a volonté general....some general will..
[13:24] Osrum Sands: Rousseau is considered one of the founders of modernity and the nation state with its principles of democracy
[13:24] Herman Bergson: which is something different from the sum of all our private wills
[13:25] Herman Bergson: yes...but so were Locke and Hume
[13:25] Osrum Sands: yes
[13:25] Herman Bergson: but this General Will in Rousseau's theory is a bit hard to explain
[13:25] arabella Ella: could you expand on the general will Herman pls?
[13:25] hope63 Shepherd: volonte general.. common sense.. they all try to find answers in the sosiety ..not the individual..
[13:25] arabella Ella: sorry!
[13:26] itsme Frederix: is this genertal will a given "fact" or should we aim for it
[13:26] Herman Bergson: I think it is a kind of idealistic idea
[13:26] Herman Bergson: that will is formed by the social contract
[13:26] itsme Frederix: well R. is idealistic isn't he?
[13:26] hope63 Shepherd: rousseau lived in calvinist geneva, didn't he herman?
[13:27] Herman Bergson: my opinion he was calvinist and conservative..:-)
[13:27] itsme Frederix: so we should aim for it as an ideal to give us back some natural environment
[13:27] Osrum Sands: he can be said to have been a steading hand to the unbridled freedom of the previous thinkers
[13:27] Osrum Sands: a break van to the frieght train of Modernity
[13:27] arabella Ella: is he the originator of the swiss system where cantons are independent and where each individual has a say ... or so we are told?
[13:28] hope63 Shepherd: no arabella..
[13:28] Herman Bergson: I dont know Arabella
[13:28] Herman Bergson: Rousseau wanted to give back to man his natural state..
[13:28] hope63 Shepherd: 1291.. uprising of the swiss against habsburg..
[13:29] Herman Bergson: He took two was education (Emile) and two was the organisation of the state (Social contract)
[13:29] itsme Frederix: it seems the Social Contract was on the vatican index - forbidden book
[13:30] Herman Bergson: wouldnt surprise me....they have a long index list there..:-)
[13:30] hope63 Shepherd: Itsme.. any book of a calvinist would be on the index...
[13:30] itsme Frederix: think you need an index on the index to find something
[13:31] itsme Frederix: hope do not think so
[13:31] Wife Stepford is Online
[13:31] Herman Bergson: What is most interesting in this century is that we see things which we now call politicology, sociology, psychology, physics and so on
[13:31] hope63 Shepherd: lets forget abouit the catholic church.. thee days europe was already slit into two..
[13:32] Anuska Loon is Online
[13:32] arabella Ella: times have changed a lot since then too
[13:32] itsme Frederix: What interest me is that Rousseau came up with education as a very important factor for live
[13:33] Herman Bergson: but has philosophy changed to Arabella
[13:33] arabella Ella: did he not have another expression 'the beautiful savage' 'le beau savage'?
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Yes Itsme......we will see this issue return with Diderot...
[13:34] arabella Ella: Herman philosophy from ancient times is still relevant to a great extent today in my opinion, the thing is that we raise more questions as we have more information
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: brave new world.. three cheers to aldous..:)
[13:34] Herman Bergson: True...
[13:34] Herman Bergson: that is so fascinatiing....
[13:34] itsme Frederix: Well was he the first to come up with education & raising children - at leat its consistent with a social contract - man can be made
[13:34] arabella Ella: Some philosophers today also tend to 'split hairs' sometimes excessively
[13:35] Herman Bergson: tho we have tons of scientific knowledge now...we still have the same philosophical questions
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: Arabella you are so right on the first idea
[13:35] arabella Ella: yes and today very often there is a lack of a 'holistic' approach to philosophy with a small 'p'
[13:35] itsme Frederix: Herman I do not think we raise more questions, the questions stay the same - but are more diverse if getting detailed
[13:35] arabella Ella: with very few exceptions
[13:36] arabella Ella: we also raise more questions like 'can computers / machines think/'
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:36] itsme Frederix: arabella, which is the same as can a dog / stone slave think
[13:36] hope63 Shepherd: questions.. lets not forget that in the past they spent a lot of time to find out what method to use to answer questions..
[13:36] Herman Bergson: When we get to Schilling and Hegel we get the holistic metaphysics...
[13:37] Osrum Sands: But surly that is the old Q of 'what is thought' Arabell?
[13:37] arabella Ella: sorry Itsme I disagree with u on that
[13:37] itsme Frederix: whow
[13:37] itsme Frederix: In what way arabella?
[13:37] arabella Ella: The question 'what is thought?' has today been broken down into a number of different questions including Chalmers 'hard question' 'What is consciousness'
[13:38] arabella Ella: Itsme, i don't think u can compare robots to stones and dogs ... you are not comparing like with like
[13:39] itsme Frederix: I do not compare them, but the question is the same ... p.e. is there consiousness in a stone / robot /dog
[13:39] Herman Bergson: Dont forget that Hume already came up with the question after The Self and Personal Identity
[13:39] arabella Ella: could you tell us more Herman pls?
[13:40] Herman Bergson: Well...he realized that it make sense to ask whether I am the same person now as I was 20 years ago?
[13:40] Herman Bergson: He tried to find a criterium to be able to proof that
[13:41] Herman Bergson: But he didnt get very far..
[13:41] Herman Bergson: the self is just the stream of sensory impressions you have
[13:41] itsme Frederix: only impressions?
[13:42] arabella Ella: and we still ask similar questions concerning personal identity today
[13:42] Herman Bergson: He tried to explain it by refering to memory...
[13:42] hope63 Shepherd: we ccannot swim twice in the same stream...
[13:42] Herman Bergson: still is a very difficult issue..
[13:42] arabella Ella: like the analogy of the ship which has each of its planks changed over time
[13:42] itsme Frederix: hope I know that one, its even more old than Hume
[13:43] Osrum Sands: and we never sit in the same place either
[13:43] Herman Bergson: Heraclitus I think
[13:43] itsme Frederix: Indian
[13:43] hope63 Shepherd: hmmm.. sounds very modern to me..
[13:43] Herman Bergson: but what is more interesting...we have a feeling of personal identity
[13:43] itsme Frederix: that is idealism
[13:43] Herman Bergson: no the PANTA REI is from a Greek Itsme..:-)
[13:43] itsme Frederix: or the founding
[13:44] Osrum Sands: its the form of society R sought with the Social Contract - itsme
[13:44] Herman Bergson: the thing to give an epistemological justification for that feeling
[13:45] arabella Ella: very difficult question
[13:45] itsme Frederix: sure, and in my opinion many idealistics tried that more succesfull than materialist
[13:45] Herman Bergson: yes Arabella..I will take a few hours of literature research for me to make some sense..:-)
[13:45] arabella Ella: such as Berkeley, Itsme?
[13:46] itsme Frederix: mmm Berkely is dead end
[13:46] arabella Ella: but u said the idealists were more successful?
[13:46] itsme Frederix: think so, because you need some idealism to come up with the experience in a theory
[13:47] hope63 Shepherd: succesful.. what astange term to use in philosophy..
[13:47] itsme Frederix: the experience off selvf & personal identity
[13:47] itsme Frederix: hope I agree on that, succesfull should be plausible .. also a strange one
[13:48] Herman Bergson: When we get to Wittgenstein and Russell we'll address this issue of personal indentity some more..
[13:48] itsme Frederix: when did the question raise first Herman about Personal Identity - wasn't it aLWways there
[13:49] Gemma Cleanslate: I will try to get my head back on straight by that time lol I am still in vacation mode
[13:49] Herman Bergson: hmmmm....I think it is the result of Empiricism...Locke ..Hume...
[13:49] itsme Frederix: so very modern
[13:49] Herman Bergson: Dont forget that before that we had a soul...that was the defining part of man
[13:49] Osrum Sands: surly personal identy is a construct delivered by our involvement with a social enviornment?
[13:50] itsme Frederix: what about eastern philosophy?
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: os.. you hit a nail right on the head...
[13:50] itsme Frederix: Osrum thats why we need the contract I presume ... R. peresumed
[13:50] Osrum Sands: no the social contract gives it some explination
[13:51] itsme Frederix: oke, the social contract comes up with the problem then?
[13:51] arabella Ella: Herman so do you think R's Social Contract was in part an effort to go against the claims of a 'state of nature' - Hobbes?
[13:52] arabella Ella: Hobbes and Rousseau seem to have contradictory views on some issues
[13:52] Herman Bergson: I think it was a political statement in the first place
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: greetings
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: Good heavens Ari!!
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: sorry cat problems
[13:52] Gemma Cleanslate: lol
[13:52] Alarice Beaumont: Hello Ari :-)
[13:52] Herman Bergson: Aristotle!!!
[13:52] AristotleVon Doobie: hello everoine
[13:53] arabella Ella: Hi Ari we missed you!
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: ty
[13:53] Herman Bergson: yes we did
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: 16 year old cat with heatlth problems
[13:53] itsme Frederix: Ari can we contract you?
[13:53] hope63 Shepherd: ari.. if your catcomes before class.. you are my friend :)
[13:53] Herman Bergson: But to get back to Rousseau...
[13:53] AristotleVon Doobie: lol
[13:54] arabella Ella loves cats
[13:54] hope63 Shepherd: mines 18...:)
[13:54] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[13:54] Herman Bergson: I think that his theory also was against the establishment of his time....a plea for more democracy
[13:55] Osrum Sands: as I mentioned he saw a steading influence to the freedom of the time
[13:55] hope63 Shepherd: did r really talkabout democracy.. i'm not so sure..
[13:55] Osrum Sands: he introduced the second great discourse of the period dicipline
[13:55] itsme Frederix: but he also was asking for recognition of the "good person once born" a pure state off mankind
[13:56] arabella Ella: well isn't it similar to how nowadays we sometimes say that materialst influences (not in a philo sense) corrupt individuals
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: yes his assessment of pre-ethic man as being good makes sense for the savage
[13:57] Herman Bergson: yes sounds the same as Rousseau in his Discours sur les sciences et les arts
[13:57] hope63 Shepherd: ari. don't forget what concept they had in those days for what a "savage" is..
[13:58] Herman Bergson: yes.....some ideal state of being...
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: certainly the savage man had no cerbral cortex
[13:58] Herman Bergson: very romantic
[13:58] arabella Ella: uncorrupted by external influences?
[13:58] Herman Bergson: if that has ever existed...
[13:58] hope63 Shepherd: internal influences..:)
[13:58] AristotleVon Doobie: rough and tough for the woman tho
[13:58] itsme Frederix: yep romantic
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: according to Rouseau they have their place
[13:59] itsme Frederix: whats the problem with that - (if not talking philosophy)
[13:59] arabella Ella: females even got a soul late in life
[13:59] hope63 Shepherd: os.. can you confirm that about the women in aborigen society?
[13:59] Osrum Sands: on sorry
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: and there place is in the kitchen and bedroom accorind to the Emile
[13:59] arabella Ella: oh nooooooooo
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: we are making up for it now
[14:00] Osrum Sands: but I think the elder 'Aunty' has great power and influence in aborigional society
[14:00] hope63 Shepherd: well.. i'll accept your excuses ( now that the prime minister did) lol
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: with a vengence
[14:00] arabella Ella: altho that is still the case in quite a few societieis including in some in Europe
[14:00] Herman Bergson: I have no kitchen here.^_^
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: I think MIll wil set things straight
[14:00] Ze Novikov: ty
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: thank goodness!!!
[14:00] itsme Frederix: so no place for ...
[14:00] Ze Novikov: lol
[14:00] herman Bergson grins
[14:00] arabella Ella: lucky Herman with no kitchen!
[14:01] Rodney Handrick: why is the concept of the kitchen a bad thing?
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: LOL rodney
[14:01] hope63 Shepherd: arabella. do you know how to cook?
[14:01] Herman Bergson: it isnt....
[14:01] arabella Ella: of course i do would any of u wish to join me for dinner tonite ;)
[14:01] arabella Ella: joking
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: I volunteer
[14:01] Herman Bergson: as long as it isnt the goelag archipel for women
[14:01] itsme Frederix: nothing wrong with a kitchen, cooking must be done dishes cleaned
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[14:02] itsme Frederix: someone has to do the job
[14:02] arabella Ella: here in the Med we still have the woman in the kitchen mentality in a lot of places and we don't have the fast food convenience u have in the US
[14:02] hope63 Shepherd: would 11.30 suit you arabella?
[14:02] Osrum Sands: Now I know we need a little disipline in our thinking
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: yes Itsme but it is not to relegated to the female only
[14:02] arabella Ella: Hey sounds like dinner will be good fun and good company with u guys
[14:02] AristotleVon Doobie: :)
[14:02] arabella Ella: Herman and Gemma please join us too?
[14:02] itsme Frederix: well I do my part regardless of being male or female - its always the female complaining about it
[14:03] Herman Bergson: People...I guess it is time to conclude our
[14:03] itsme Frederix: ;)
[14:03] arabella Ella: Hey Itsme u have not suffered from gender discrimination over the years it seems
[14:03] Herman Bergson: thank you for your attention and participation in the discussion
[14:03] itsme Frederix: actually I have,
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: Sorry for being late Herman, I will catch up the blog
[14:04] Herman Bergson: np Aristotle
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: yes we depend on you Ari
[14:04] itsme Frederix: some people think children can not be raised by male
[14:04] Rodney Handrick: same here Herman
[14:04] SALDOG Brezoianu: Thank for the class Professor
[14:04] arabella Ella: of course they can itsme why not?
[14:04] itsme Frederix: Thx Herman
[14:04] AristotleVon Doobie: Rodney was late?
[14:04] arabella Ella: thank you so much Herman for another very interesting class!
[14:04] Ze Novikov: thanks...very good
[14:04] Osrum Sands: can some one please tell me how the heck our conversation got to where it is now?
[14:04] Rodney Handrick: yes, unfortunately
[14:04] Alarice Beaumont: i made a copy of todays dialogue for you Ari.. i give it to you
[14:04] Ze Novikov: lol
[14:04] Gemma Cleanslate: i have to leave now see you Tuesday all
[14:04] AristotleVon Doobie: that you AL
[14:04] Rodney Handrick: Thanks Alarice
[14:05] Alarice Beaumont: np
[14:05] itsme Frederix: oke, Diderot next thusrday Herman?
[14:05] arabella Ella: bye everyone
[14:05] Rodney Handrick: bye
[14:05] Herman Bergson: Yes...not a real philosopher but interesting...
[14:05] Zingo Hax: Bye arabella
[14:05] itsme Frederix: oke
[14:06] itsme Frederix: there are indeed some surprising man in the list (not woman sorry)
[14:06] Osrum Sands: give it a break itsme
[14:06] Herman Bergson: true
[14:06] itsme Frederix: oke
[14:06] hope63 Shepherd: raising children by men arabella.. are you a adapt of the spartans?
[14:06] itsme Frederix: Ossum right you are, I'm sorry folks
[14:07] Osrum Sands: woman do not need to be outspoken to get their point across
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: well.. got to go...see you tuesday..
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: LOL
[14:07] AristotleVon Doobie: bye Alarice
[14:07] Alarice Beaumont: bye
[14:07] Zingo Hax: Bye
[14:07] Rodney Handrick: bye Alarice
[14:07] Herman Bergson: the List I use is from a book by Philip Stokes
[14:07] Ze Novikov: bb everyone
[14:08] Herman Bergson: Bye Ze
[14:08] SALDOG Brezoianu: Bye Bye
[14:08] Zingo Hax: Thanks for today herman ...bye all
[14:08] Osrum Sands: Herman I sought out that book
[14:08] itsme Frederix: well its hard to limit it on 100 persons
[14:08] Osrum Sands: but what is the name
[14:08] Ewa Aska: ~~$$~~Tschüssi~~$$~~
[14:08] Ewa Aska: bye all tack herman

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-02-17 18:08:06

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