Monday, October 10, 2016
Saints, Sinners, Quacks, Rousseau (H3)
Rousseau, he is an interesting character. In our reading for this week we got two, very different pictures of him. One of the Peripatetic saint, and another of a wandering womanizer and madman. I think that most philosophers basically fall into three categories, Saints, meaning highly religious and moral writers like St. Augustine and Spinoza. Sinners, meaning those who speak nothing on it or reject it do not live the most admirable of lives, such as Empedocles. Then there are the quacks, people who are just…. Weird. Barkley would be my go to example but you could use a lot of others and I feel that Rousseau probably falls into one of the latter two categories. I would call him a sinner because of his repeat and insistent womanizing and his apparent amorality, such as his mercenary approach to his religious affiliation. I would call him a quack because, well, he went mad and became convinced his only friend in the world was conspiring to help kill him. So I guess I would call him a quack. I should make it clear that none of these categories in anyway impacts the validity of the ideas generated by philosophers. Although it does say something about the nature of the philosophy as well as the philosopher. You can see this in Rousseau that his personal compunctions effect his ideological ones, such is seen in his odd take on the human condition, which if you think about it reflects the circumstances of his life to a great degree. Of course also Russel acquainted him with Hitler so that must mean something.