Charles L. Griswold
- Boston University
This project examines Rousseau’s influential account of the nature and fate of the self, using the thought of Adam Smith as a foil and drawing on contemporary philosophy. The focus is on four interconnected issues: freedom (“natural” or of self, rather than political); the loss of freedom and authenticity, and the ensuing “theatricality” of self; “pitié” and sympathy as rival means of understanding as well as identifying with self and other; and narrative as a way of understanding, explaining, and unifying. These themes are central to Rousseau’s conception of what it means to be a self in the modern age. This study interprets as well as evaluates his position, shedding new light on his and Smith's philosophies, as well as the issues themselves.