Rousseau on the Allure, and the Elusiveness, of Divine Self-Sufficiency
This chapter traces Rousseau’s ambivalence about the possibility, and the desirability, of human autonomy. At times, Rousseau heralds the prospect of full empowerment without omnipotence. At other moments, however, Rousseau denies that full empowerment is available to or appropriate for finite beings. The chapter features a historical survey demonstrating continuities between Rousseau’s analysis of amour-propre and those of early modern Christian moralists. The chapter’s concluding section analyzes Rousseau’s flirtation with tropes of human self-deification, arguing that Rousseau can neither deliver on the promise of full empowerment, nor can he abandon the fantasy of a mortal who is not weak.
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