By Jeremiah Alberg (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Reinterpretation of Rousseau: A Religious System
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.
1:743). What I wish to emphasize here is neither the objective historical behavior of those who opposed Rousseau nor his psychological state, but rather the logic of his position as he struggles to interpret the way that others are treating him. 13 In fact, 28 A Reinterpretation of Rousseau/Jeremiah Alberg Jean-Jacques is the new stumbling block, the new scandal. The author interprets their reaction to the “unpardonable crimes” of this scandalous man precisely as a pardon, a pardon that is itself a crime and a form of torture—pardon as persecution.
At ﬁrst, Rousseau can accept that in “wishing to spare a scoundrel the treatment he deserved,” the Gentlemen ﬁnd it necessary to “take extraordinary precautions to prevent a scandal about this indulgence and place it at such a high price that others would not be tempted to desire such indulgence nor would they be tempted to take advantage of it” (CW 1:54; Pl. 1:730). But in the end, Rousseau himself uses the avoidance of scandal as one of the main reasons for demanding that the Gentlemen abandon their way of proceeding and directly confront Jean-Jacques.
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