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The Scenic ImaginationOriginary Thinking from Hobbes to the Present Day$
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Eric Gans

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780804757003

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804757003.001.0001

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(p.46) Chapter 2 Rousseau
The Scenic Imagination
Stanford University Press

Jean-Jacques Rousseau formulated a model of primitive humanity based on limited but reasonably reliable ethnographic data. His expulsion of Hobbesian rivalry from human nature—in contrast with John Locke's mitigation-through-property—may be interpreted as the first demonstration of modern anthropology-as-ethnology. Rousseau expressed the centrality of his theoretical ideas on human origin in the Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality) (1754) and the posthumous Essai sur l'origine des langues (Essay on the Origin of Languages) (written in 1755, published in 1781). In his 1967 masterwork De la grammatologie (On Grammatology, Jacques Derrida offered a critique of Rousseau in which he argued that anthropology, and human science in general, is just a new disguise for metaphysics. This chapter examines Rousseau's scenic imagination and originary anthropology and explores the role of pity in the latter concept. It also looks at his implicit criticism of Thomas Hobbes' conception of the social contract.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Essay on the Origin of Languages, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Jacques Derrida, metaphysics, scenic imagination, originary anthropology, pity, Thomas Hobbes, social contract, Thomas Hobbes

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