Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Rousseau Höffe Höffe I 269
Rousseau/Höffe: To the prize question of the Academy of Dijon, "whether the restoration of the sciences and arts has contributed to the purification of customs", Rousseau answers with a sharp "no". The award-winning treatise, the rhetorically brilliant First Treatise on the Sciences and Arts (1) hits Paris with force. The unknown vagabond from abroad, Geneva, becomes the centre of the social, literary and philosophical salons. HöffeVsRousseau: If one pays attention to the only basic idea that Rousseau unfolds in many attempts and without outstanding ingenuity, success must be surprising. Even the message is not so unusual, on the contrary,
Höffe I 270
most of the submitted texts answer the prize question with a no. What is unusual, however, is the style, the mercilessly fierce polemic against the sciences and arts that have been praised so far.
Höffe I 283
Aftermath: [Rousseau], the most widely read French author of the Age of Enlightenment, [is] considered the father of modernity and anti-modernity at the same time - for he became a source of inspiration both for the French Revolution and the subsequent restoration.
Höffe I 284
Revolution: The leading revolutionary Maximilien de Robespierre always has a copy of the social contract on his table, and following Rousseau's civil religion (>Religion/Rousseau) he has the existence of the "Supreme Being" and the immortality of the soul raised from convention to law. Restoration: Rousseau can also refer to the Restoration, as he encourages it in that he hardly develops the forward-looking ideas of Spinoza, Pufendorf, Locke and Montesquieu:
Höffe: Rousseau is neither a father of basic and human rights nor of the separation of powers. And despite the criticism of Revelation and Christian churches he at least accommodates the Restoration with his verdict against atheism. Nevertheless he will influence the philosophy of the state at least until Marx.
Rousseau's influence in Germany is promoted by the early translation of the two treatises and their review by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. However, the most lasting effect he gets from and through Immanuel Kant.
Fichte: Johann Gottlieb Fichte takes over Rousseau's pathos of freedom. In surpassing a Rousseau theorem, he explains: "Anyone who considers himself a master of others is himself a slave". Hegel: In his lectures on the history of philosophy, Hegel calls Hume and Rousseau the two thinkers from whom German philosophy emanates. (...) in the basic lines of the philosophy of law (§ 258), [Hegel] will give credit to Rousseau for "having established the will as a principle of the state".
HegelVsRousseau: But afterwards he criticizes the empirical side of Rousseau's social contract, which exposes the state to the arbitrariness of the citizens.
HegelVsContract Theory/Höffe: Because Hegel, but also British and French thinkers, criticise contract thinking in general, it loses importance for many generations.

1. Rousseau, Premier Discours sur les sciences et les arts, 1750

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016