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Thursday, 10 February 2011

HCJ Lecture - Romanticism, Rousseau and The French Revolution

Romanticism is the next part of HCJ that we will be exploring. It had a dominant role in the 19th Century and contrasts with the 'clockwork' idea of empiricism. This is because it has no exact mearuements.

Rousseau wass a philosopher in the 18th Century.
At the time the main creative force that was Christianity had dissapeared.
Rousseau was excited by nature, specifically natural elements such as the mountains and the waves. He felt that they were to be admired and respected, but at the timethey were seen merely as barriers.

One day while listening to the waves, Rousseau felt all of his painful memories vanish, and worries of the future as well. He was left in a sense of being. This 'intense experience' lead to him being pushed out of towns because of his views and the opinions he expressed. He felt you could not believe what was in books and that truth only came from nature. He saw it as the answer, and had no belief in reason.
This signalled a 'new cult of sensibility' - Romanticism.

Roussea's idea's can be linked to the ideas of Hobbes and Locke when looking at the 'state of nature'. John Locke agreed in a way, but he liked the idea of property. In comparison, Rousseau felt we should not own the land.

He believed that natural man was virtuous. He saw us as puppets, alienating ourselves from wht we truly should be. We should be more in touch with animals and not civilised. He believed in supremacy of emotions.

"Man is born free, but everywhere is in chains."
He believed civilisation had corrupted us, and that we must return to nature. To the goodness of primitive man - 'The Noble Savage'. Civlisation means we are trapped in the compeition of self esteem.
The Social Contract - Rousseau's Influence
"Taking men as they are, and laws as they might be." - Admits there is no way back to nature.
General Will
We all agree on certain laws. The fact that we all agree means that even though thier is a law, it is still freedom.
If a king(for example) was to force a law onto us that we don't all agree on, then the freedom would be gone.
Direct democracy has no representation. In contrast, liberal means their is both a public and private sphere. This enables agreed differences between rules privately(such as walking around your home with no clothes on) in comparison to rules when in public.
Rousseau felt thier should be no difference between private and public.
Rousseau suggest a 'Declaration of the Rights of Men'. This is the idea that men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Law is the expression.
One danger of a General Will is the introduction of a new kind of dictatorship, the tyranny of law - anyone who refuses to obey the general will will be 'forced to be free'.
A good example is from The French Revolution - 'If they don't agree, we'll force them to be free'.
Wordsworth said that the revolution seemed to bring Rousseaus idea of a natural man into reality. At this moment this was the romantic movement in action.
Leading up to The French Revolution, the King of France had gathered massive debt, leaving himself and the country in trouble. He could no longer run the country.
The beginning of the revolution was slow and pedantic. The consitutional phase belonged in the age of reason.
Mary Wolsencraft will be the focus of my next peice of reading. She wrote 'A Vindication of the Rights of Woman'.
Mary was one of the first feminists. However, she was damaged by a book written by her husband after her death. After it was made, people were shocked by the allegations, and it wasn't until years after its release thather reputation bcame more respectable once again.
She studied alongside Rousseau, and came from a middle class family(although her father ended up losing the the familys money). Mary raised the family, working as a governess. At the time, people in her position(middle class women) had small prospects.
Alot of her writing was in reaction to Rousseau. She found him intoxicating and annoying.
Mary was won over by Locke, kloving his idea of a 'blank slate' at birth and his claim that we were bporn with no innate ideas.
She suggested that if you were a poor women you(and your voice) was invisible. Hoever, she felt that the only thing that seperated everyone was education(and the quality of it). Education given to women was superficially promoted with an obsession with appearance.
Some of the underpinning was from Locke. If you educate people properly you can make them rational, responsible citizens.
Mary stated that men and women should just be human beings, asexual or non-sexual beings, until they are in law and then they can assume a gendered identity.
She tries to limit the areas in life where men are men, and women are women.
In her writings she suggests men and women are just human beings. They are equal and share the same potential.
"If your to stay as a child in a state of innocence, it would be better if your not born".


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