Arm’s Length or All In?

I didn’t give my best lesson ever yesterday in comp, but it wasn’t bad either.

Our main texts for the day were excerpts from John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government and Jean Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, and my initial plan was to use the question of children’s education to point up the radical differences between the two.  Whereas Locke paints civil society as an agreement among consenting adults to protect each other’s private property rights, Rousseau has a more radical vision, one in which all of each citizen’s power comes to be part of the polis and the polis only succeeds insofar as its actions mirror the General Will, Rousseau’s name for those actions that confer true benefit on all rather than benefitting some at others’ expense.

However, I mentioned the children thing with Locke (noting that Locke does not spend much time at all thinking past the formation of a polis into the perpetuation fo the same) and then forgot it entirely with Rousseau (who actually does talk about education as a means of advancing beyond the “State of Nature” and achieving a genuinely human Moral Freedom).

I’ll blame this, like my Lear omissions the hour before, on this cold (which I’m still fighting).  I suppose that’s the best means I have for believing that I can and will do better tomorrow.


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