Présentation du livre de Barbara Carnevali, Romantisme et reconnaissance. Figures de la conscience chez Rousseau
Discutants : Claude Habib (Université Paris 3), Antoine Lilti (EHESS), Martin Rueff (Université de Genève), Céline Spector (Université Bordeaux III)
'Be yourself': this modern imperative is generally ascribed to Rousseau. Rousseau's readers from the Romantic Age onward viewed his life and work as a paradigm for a new moral universe, one which celebrated originality, solitude, and the quest for a 'natural self' independent of inter-subjective relationships.
This book offers a different reading: it rediscovers the Rousseau of the 'social self'. Through consideration of his two 'histories of consciousness', the Discourse on Inequality and the Confessions, this study uncovers a philosopher of recognition, conscious of the importance of mediation in the construction of identity; a psychologist of rivalry and mimicry; a sociologist of prestige; an ambitious commoner, the precursor of Julien Sorel and Lucien de Rubempré; a social dissenter, who skillfully staged his rebellion against the society of spectacle.
Rousseau's thought is riven by the tension between a Romantic impulse and a need for recognition, which he expresses –in the moral language of the day – as an opposition between amour de soi and amour-propre. In this respect Rousseau reveals the central conflict of modern subjectivity: the opposition between the aspirations of the individual and the social demands of the human condition.