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Where is modern man’s place? Rousseau’s critique of Locke’s gentleman

Abstract : While scholars have analysed Rousseau’s critique of Locke on the one hand and the controversial place of the woman in Emile on the other, this essay argues that Emile’s Book V must be enlightened by Rousseau’s critical dialogue with Lockean philosophy. Notwithstanding the fact that Rousseau's Emile owes a great deal to Locke's Thoughts on Education, there is an irreducible distance between each of the two authors’ art of ‘forming a man’. According to Rousseau, Locke fails in making the child truly generous. For lack of forming a citizen in the full sense of the term, Rousseau’s governor forms a man: a being who is aware of his place in humanity. Neutralizing man’s identification with his social place makes the natural feeling of compassion possible again. However, human self consciousness cannot easily replace patriotic self-consciousness. Virtue requires a sense of belonging to a community. Therefore, Rousseau blames Locke for abandoning his pupil at the most perilous moment: the age of marriage. In the absence of a political community, the common ego will be that of home. Rousseau’s philosophy addresses a challenge to those who wish to form a modern man, both independent and beneficent, even though his own solution remains unsatisfactory inasmuch as it sacrifices women’s liberty.
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Submitted on : Friday, April 16, 2021 - 2:09:56 PM
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Johanna Lenne-Cornuez. Where is modern man’s place? Rousseau’s critique of Locke’s gentleman. Oeconomica , Prague University of Economics and Business, 2020, Beyond the State and the Citizen, p. 79-109. ⟨hal-03200320⟩

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