Monday, September 20, 2010

From The Comments

This was in the comments, but FLG is going to pop it onto the main page in case any of you are interested:

Miss Self-Important said...
I agree that Rousseau is, taken by himself, an interesting and complex contrast to some of the doctrines of Enlightenment enthusiasts like Condorcet, though I'm not sure why you think he's Platonic.

Also, given the negative contemporary connotations of "intellectual," I think it's only a moniker that is actively sought and appropriated by blowhards.

FLG said...
A bunch of've read Emile and the Republic. They're basically the same book, but in reverse. Plato deals with the City. Rousseau the individual.

There's an bunch of stuff in the first discourse too. I can't remember it all off hand, but he says Peter the Great was merely a great imitator, which seems like something Plato would say. Moreover, there's also a veneration of Sparta running throughout the entire discourse that is very Platonic in nature.


Miss Self-Important said...

But given that Plato was so tremendously influential in philosophy and theology, how much sense does it make to say anyone who takes up his themes in even explicit ways is the Plato of his time? Was Cicero the Plato of Rome? Thomas More a Platonic figure plopped into 16th C. England?

The veneration of Sparta is also ambiguous, I think. In the beginning of the Emile, it is held up as a model of an education that fully and so successfully denatures man and makes him into a citizen, but it's not clear that R. thinks that such totalizing education is best, especially in an age when society intercedes between individuals and the state.

FLG said...

Oh, Sweet Jesus.

It's not just that R took up Platonic themes. Emile is pretty much the same book, in my opinion, but again from different angles. There are entire courses offer on this for goodness' sake.

Rousseau, along with Augustine, didn't just take up Platonic themes, but did so to such an extent that they might as well have been Plato.

Miss Self-Important said...

So Emile would be the ideal citizen in the city of philosopher kings?

FLG said...

Neither is meant to be taken literally. The city of philosopher kings is unrealizable and Emile would be fucking crazy.

The Ancient said...

Rousseau, along with Augustine, didn't just take up Platonic themes, but did so to such an extent that they might as well have been Plato.

1) One of the reasons I give money to help excavate the Villa dei Papyri is the vague hope that it will someday turn up something like Aristotle's trot on Plato.

2) I have been annoyed, fairly recently, by the argument that the Framers were more influenced by the structure of Spartan government than they were by the Athenian example. But I am slowly giving in to the idea. (Fortunately, the notion that American males should be required, in their teenage years, to go off into the wild country and kill some defenseless helot seems not to have made the final cut.)

3) Plato dreamed of being a consequential writer, as did Aristotle. (Why else go off to a despotic kingdom?) What I don't know/remember is whether Rousseau took himself so seriously. (Which is, perhaps, the back story of a previous dispute.)

4) MSI -- How many dissertations are there on Rousseau and The Baron in the Trees?

5) FLG -- Augustine might have been Plato in the same way Euripides might have been Aeschylus -- but the form of ones preoccupations is not the same thing as the content.

(I am now going to take a dozen pain killers and go to bed.)

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