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From nature as source to nature as ethos: The making of natural man in Rousseau's Dialogues.

Di Palma, Marco; (2000) From nature as source to nature as ethos: The making of natural man in Rousseau's Dialogues. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London. Green open access

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Abstract

Challenging Jean Starobinski's critique of Rousseau juge de Jean-Jacques, Dialogues, this thesis locates arguments for the Rousseauian synthesis and its ideal of Natural Man in the philosophies of nature, habit and the will. Rousseau's concept of nature represents both a given, timeless inheritance or moral source, but also a unity which individuals actualise through reason and acts of the ethical will. The philosophy of habit suggested in Emile eliminates the concepts of denaturation and second nature invoked by commentators to clarify the relation between nature and habit. Authentic, permanent habits disclose nature; nature transcends itself through habit. A philosophy of the will, meanwhile, specifies the enlightened initiatives that fulfil the human telos, sponsoring the Form nature assumes through habit. The modalities of nature, habit and will thereby establish a continuity between the natural and ethical selves. Nature, habit and will also define the conditions of possibility for Natural Man exemplified by "Jean-Jacques". The Dialogues strive to remain intellectually coherent, but Rousseau's self-representation via an objective, third-person perspective proves rhetorically infelicitous for these conditions. The conflict of truth and method at the heart of autobiography abstracts the origins and history that mediate the synthesis that is Natural Man. Readers face a transcendental problem that must account for the points of transition needed for the synthesis to emerge. This account derives from an analysis of Rousseau's naturel, a spontaneity that, in fact, corresponds to a moral condition or ethos generated by sedimented acts of the ethical will. The thesis concludes that the Dialogues belong to and advance the Rousseau's 'system'. By internalising his own ethical construct, Rousseau and his works coincide. An ethical vision that reconciles goodness and virtue, nature and history demonstrates how Natural Man is possible.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: From nature as source to nature as ethos: The making of natural man in Rousseau's Dialogues.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis Digitised by Proquest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124478
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