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"His first major philosophical work, A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts...argues that the progression of the sciences and arts has caused the corruption of virtue and morality... These virtues allow people to escape vanity and an emphasis on superficial values that he thought to be so prevalent in modern society.. "Aware that his stance against the contribution of the arts and sciences to morality could potentially offend his readers, Rousseau claims, “I am not abusing science…I am defending virtue before virtuous men... "Society begins to emphasize specialized talents rather than virtues such as courage, generosity, and temperance. This leads to yet another danger: the decline of military virtue, which is necessary for a society to defend itself against aggressors. And yet, after all of these attacks, the First Discourse ends with the praise of some very wise thinkers, among them, Bacon, Descartes, and Newton. These men were carried by their vast genius and were able to avoid corruption. However, Rousseau says, they are exceptions; and the great majority of people ought to focus their energies on improving their characters, rather than advancing the ideals of the Enlightenment in the arts and sciences." http://www.iep.utm.edu/rousseau/ However, "the political thought and action of Rousseau’s spiritual heirs, Robespierre and Saint-Just," http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Rousseau-s--virtue--5926 were hardly virtuous. Robespierre is responsible for the Rein of Terror during which thousands of people lost their heads to the guillotine, and when the people had had enough, he himself was the last to be beheaded. Robespierre also tried to institute a national religion that Rousseau thought was necessary and good. This paper argues that Rousseau s ideas of virtue shackle the imagination. http://www.nhinet.org/lines22-1.pdf But this author, Reisert, "reconstructs the model of the human soul that underpins Rousseau s account of virtue, a model he considers superior to the alternatives conceived by Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Kant, and Rawls. Rousseau, the author explains, believed that life in modern societies undermines virtue, but that for individuals to thrive, and for free societies to endure, all would require moral education. Rousseau, who styled himself "a friend of virtue," sought to impart virtue to his readers through the examples of his literary characters Emile and Julie." http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100346350 Well, Rousseau is better than Hobbes, Montesquieu, Kant, and Rawls, but Locke, through Aristotle and Aquinas, gave America s founders the intellectual knowledge they needed to form this more perfect union where the intended virtue was always that all men are created equal.
Philosophical Essays and Correspondence (Descartes) (Hackett Buy Philosophical Essays and Correspondence (Descartes) (Hackett Publishing Co.) on Amazon.com FREE.
A superb text for teaching the philosophy of Descartes, this volume includes all his major works in their entirety, important selections from his lesser known writings, and key selections from his philosophical correspondence. The result is an anthology that enables the reader to understand the development of Descartes’s thought over his lifetime. Includes a biographical Introduction, chronology, bibliography, and index.
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