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On the Happiness of the Philosophic LifeReflections on Rousseau's Rêveries in Two Books$
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Heinrich Meier

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226074030

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226074177.001.0001

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(p.73) Chapter 3 Nature
On the Happiness of the Philosophic Life

Heinrich Meier

, Robert Berman
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines Jean-Jacques Rousseau's treatment of nature in Les rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire, and how it becomes the standard support for the self-understanding and orientation of the philosophic life. It shows that the first appearance of nature in the Rêveries is linked to the opening of the Deuxième promenade, at the place where Rousseau mentions solitude and méditation in a single breath. The chapter considers three important moments. First, in meditation, which comes into its own in solitude, Rousseau actualizes a particular capacity of his nature. Second, the unfolding of the activity that is extinguished only with the death of his soul allows Rousseau to be in harmony with his own nature. Third, when Rousseau is fully himself and realizes his particular nature, he accords with nature in general. This chapter also discusses Rousseau's criticism of the loss of self and loss of distance that contrasts with his praise for the observation of nature.

Keywords:   nature, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Les rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire, philosophic life, solitude, meditation, loss of self, loss of distance

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