Download A Reinterpretation of Rousseau: A Religious System by Jeremiah Alberg (auth.) PDF

By Jeremiah Alberg (auth.)

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The readers are in the position of the Frenchman, unable to compare the portrait with the original. We are confronted with many copies and no original. ” This sketch of Jean-Jacques is to be compared not only with the portrait that the Gentlemen paint, but also, and more importantly, with the self-portrait contained in Jean-Jacques’ writings. This “exposé” of the portraits, which the character Rousseau attributes to JeanJacques’ imagination, contains even deeper implications for our interpretation of the Dialogues (CW 1:91; Pl.

1:777). Thus, Rousseau finds it odd that these unflattering pictures and engravings have been so highly praised, so widely distributed. In Rousseau’s judgment, “[if these portraits do not do a better job of ] depicting the original’s moral character than they do his physical appearance, he [Jean-Jacques] will surely be badly known through them” (CW 1:90; Pl. 1:778). The unflattering, physical portraits are spread in much the same way that the unflattering rumors about JeanJacques are spread. Rousseau learns that Jean-Jacques’ “protectors,” the Gentlemen, are the ones who have had these engravings made from the portraits at a great expense and have had them circulated.

Without that, Jean-Jacques could not have depicted the natural man. Yet where was this model to be found? Where could the painter and apologist of nature, so disfigured and calumnied now, have found his model if not in his own heart? He described it as he himself felt. These “Everything Relates to That First Accusation” 25 traits so novel for us and so true once they are traced could still find, deep in people’s hearts, the attestation of their correctness, but they would never have sought them out themselves if the historian of nature hadn’t started by removing the rust that hid them.

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