Monday, August 24, 2009

Martin, Wayne M. Review of Frederick Neuhouser's ROUSSEAU'S THEODICY OF SELF-LOVE. NDPR (August 2009).

Neuhouser, Frederick. Rousseau's Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition. Oxford: OUP, 2008. Self-love is a major theme -- indeed, along with freedom, perhaps the major theme -- in the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau himself was intimately familiar with the perverse and destructive manifestations of self-love, both from his first-hand experiences of the flamboyantly narcissistic world of the Ancien Régime, and from his own famously tortured psyche. Part of his intellectual legacy was an incisive exploration of the sentiment and its powerful dynamics. In this recent book, Fred Neuhouser has provided an incisive exploration of his own: a detailed critical reconstruction of Rousseau's account of self-love, both in its destructive and its constructive configurations. The research builds on recent contributions in Rousseau scholarship -- notably the ground-breaking work of Nicholas Dent and an unpublished dissertation by Andrew Chitty. But Neuhouser offers a novel framing of the issues, makes important contributions on a number of controversial points, and concludes with a bold and original (if also somewhat speculative) development of Rousseau's hints that self-love functions as a condition on the possibility of rationality. . . . Read the rest here:

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