Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith are giants of eighteenth century thought. The heated controversy provoked by their competing visions of human nature and society still resonates today. Smith himself reviewed Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, and his perceptive remarks raise an intriguing question: what would a conversation between these two great thinkers look like?
In this outstanding book Charles Griswold analyzes, compares and evaluates some of the key ways in which Rousseau and Smith address what could be termed "the question of the self". Both thinkers discuss what we are by nature (in particular, whether we are sociable or not), who we have become, whether we can know ourselves or each other, how best to articulate the human condition, what it would mean to be free, and whether there is anything that can be done to remedy our deeply imperfect condition. In the course of examining their rich and contrasting views, Griswold puts Rousseau and Smith in dialogue by imagining what they might say in reply to one another. Griswold’s wide-ranging exploration includes discussion of issues such as narcissism, self-falsification, sympathy, the scope of philosophy, and the relation between liberty, religion and civic order.
A superb exploration of two major philosophers, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith: A Philosophical Encounter is essential reading for students and scholars of these two figures, eighteenth century philosophy, the Enlightenment, moral philosophy, and the history of ideas. It will also be of interest to those in related disciplines such as political theory, economics, and religion.
Prologue 1. Narcissism, self-knowledge, and social critique: from Rousseau’s Preface to Narcissus to Adam Smith 2. Genealogical narrative, self-knowledge, and the scope of philosophy 3. Sociability, pitié and sympathy 4. "To be" and "to appear": self-falsification, exchange, and freedom 5. Liberty, civil religion, and "sentiments of sociability" Epilogue Bibliography Index