Instinct and Intimacy

Instinct and Intimacy: Political Philosophy and Autobiography in Rousseau

MARGARET OGRODNICK
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442676213
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  • Book Info
    Instinct and Intimacy
    Book Description:

    Drawing upon his autobiographies, Ogrodnick analyzes Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a theorist of the modern self, tracing the implications for the problems and recommendations of his political thought.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7621-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Abbreviations to Rousseau’s Works
    (pp. x-2)
  5. 1 The Modern Self in Rousseau
    (pp. 3-20)

    The personality of Jean-Jacques Rousseau infuses his philosophy. This is a recurring observation already seen in the declaration of one of his contemporaries that his ‘soul is imprinted on every page.’¹ His recent commentator, Jean Starobinski, remarks: ‘Rightly or wrongly, Rousseau was unwilling to separate his thought from his person, his theories from his personal destiny.’² Rousseau’s philosophical works subtly elicit a feeling of familiarity with their author. As Hannah Arendt notes, he ‘is the only great author still frequently cited by his first name alone.’³ Rousseau condones this familiarity, claiming that his person and the character of his books...

  6. 2 Political Philosophy and the Introspective Psyche
    (pp. 21-46)

    Before drawing on Rousseau’s autobiographies to explicate his philosophical writings, we must first establish an interpretive approach to autobiography. This approach can be forged through considering three features of the modern self. ‘Authenticity’ raises the issue of truth in autobiography. ‘Self-creation’ points to the problematic of the elusive self and the need for self-construction. A ‘hidden inner depth’ introduces a psychoanalytical dimension to the understanding of the autobiographical enterprise. These features of the modern self simultaneously direct us to two levels of analysis in the autobiographies. The first level is Rousseau’s conscious intentions: his philosophic endorsement of authenticity is replicated...

  7. 3 Woman, Sexuality, and Intimate Society
    (pp. 47-84)

    The diversity of interpretation that attends the reading of Rousseau is absent from his views on women: there seems to be no doubt about his antifeminism. He is criticized for restricting woman to the domestic sphere and for excluding her from civic participation. In much of his explicit philosophical discourse on women Rousseau certainly did not support mutuality between the sexes. Nevertheless, the case for him as women’s ‘philosophical enemy’¹ is not as clear as might seem. Unconscious obstacles sometimes mire him in the cultural antinomy between subjugation and rule in gender relations; but his psychological and political theory remains...

  8. 4 Autonomy and Extension in Political Relations
    (pp. 85-112)

    As he does with the masculine/feminine dichotomy, Rousseau both reflects and strives to transcend the dualism between separation and oneness. In hypothesizing independence in the natural condition, he expresses and endorses self-sufficiency, a modern ideal that has liberal and psychoanalytical significance. In liberal terms, natural autonomy establishes the individualist foundation of his social contract theory. Psychoanalytically, it speaks to the inadaptability of humanity to civilization and the unhappiness of renouncing instinctual life. His response is to advocate equal participatory self-rule as the only form of political association compatible with our original independence and instinct for self-care.

    Rousseau’s premise of natural...

  9. 5 Independence and the General Will
    (pp. 113-129)

    Rousseau does not rest content with specifying the democratic political mechanisms consistent with natural liberty; he also seeks to ensure people’s psychological capacity to support them. The general will requires an independence of judgment that Rousseau’s own personal struggle with autonomy immediately signals as problematic. His awareness of this trouble is reflected in his recommendation of a solitary deliberative procedure to determine the general will and in his concern with public opinion as a possible source of contagion. Although he apparently suggests a Legislator to help people discern the general will, the suprahuman proportions of this figure reinforce the necessity...

  10. 6 Compassion, Innocence, and the State
    (pp. 130-161)

    To the psychocultural dichotomies between masculine and feminine, and separation and union, this chapter adds the analysis of a final one, between good and evil. Rousseau reflects this dualism where he insists on absolute innocence and transcends it through a compassionate instinct that is prior to moral categories.¹ In his state of nature theory, Rousseau contrasts primitive humanity with civilized humanity and condemns the latter as wicked. Yet though he appears to reproduce the terminology of this dualism in calling primitive humanity naturally good, his actual analysis reveals the state of nature to be prior to good and evil. Its...

  11. 7 Private and Public Realms
    (pp. 162-194)

    The solitary penchant Rousseau sometimes displays in his autobiographies is eclipsed by his personal and theoretical enchantment with intimacy. Through intimate association, which is based in the retrieval and metamorphosis of primitive instinct, he sees redemption from the opposition between our suppressed instinctual nature and our civilized life. In analysing and endorsing intimate sentiments, values, and experiences as facilitating intermediaries between the autonomous individual and the political whole, Rousseau calls into question the usual distinction between the private and public realms. Other political philosophers proceed on the basis of a sharp theoretical division between these two realms, although they diverge...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 195-216)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-226)
  14. Index
    (pp. 227-238)