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Title: Pride and virtue in the political thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Author: Thévenon, Daniel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 0185
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis examines the relationship between political virtue and moral virtue in the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. After critically engaging with Rousseau's compelling yet complex theory of human sociability, focusing more particularly on the seminal relationship between the two forms of self-love, the "natural" amour de soi and "social" amour-propre, it is observed that the culmination of Rousseau's moral theory in Emile sees him espouse a particular kind of moral excellence called vertu, defined as a striving to master one's passions, and a particular type of freedom named liberté morale, inherent in the act of obeying the inner law originating in man's conscience. After further exploring Rousseau's conception of vertu, and insisting upon the ambitiousness of his moral theory, the thesis argues that Rousseau's political theory differs from it in "taking men as they are", and starting from the assumption that men are driven by their passions. That the hegemony of amour-propre is pre-supposed by Rousseau's political project is demonstrated through a detailed comparison of the civic education described in his prescriptive political writings with the moral education advocated in Emile. Finally, it draws the implications of the discrepancies between Rousseau's moral and political versions of virtue for his political theory, identifying a strong tension between two ideals that have generally been regarded as wedded within it, those of republican liberty and moral freedom.
Supervisor: Philp, Mark Sponsor: Department of Politics and International Relations Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political ethics ; Virtue--Political aspects ; Self-acceptance ; Political science--Philosophy