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Re: FW: [xmca] Arne Raeithel's "genealogy"

You have a point Greg. Hegel most certainly read Rousseau. The famed master-servant narrative is a kind of parody on Rousseau's state of nature. Hegel's theory of the state was also built in opposition to the Contrat social. But to say that Hegel built his theory in opposition to Rousseau is not to deny that Rousseau was an inspiration and a source for Hegel. ROusseau was the premier philosopher of the French Revolution and Classical German Philosophy arose as a direct response to the French Revolution. What has to be kept in mind though is that the ideas for which Hegel is remembered begin from the aftermath of Roberspierre's Terror. The sight of the entire cultured classes of France going under the guillotine was not welcomed by educated Germans, even though they became supporters of Napoleon.

Rousseau if of course also noted for his writings on the raising of children.

My only problem is that I keep sending Bruce updated versions. I'll try to slip in Rousseau.


Gregory Allan Thompson wrote:
As for the Frenchies, I think Durkheim, in The Elementary
Forms of Religious Life, has an argument that is in striking
parallel to Vygotsky's arguments about the way that culture
ratchets up the individual (to use words I've read Tomasello
use). It is in the introduction, I think, where Durkheim says
something about the "congealed forces" that are contained in
culture. Furthermore, Durkheim's book presents an argument
that is essentially the same argument as Hegel's, in that both
present a social ontology of the subject. For an overview and
for how this most important argument has been neglected - see
Ann(e?) Rawls' paper "Durkheim's epistemology : The neglected
argument". But aside from drawing parallels, I can't speak to
how Durkheim might have influenced CHAT.
But in a related line, I wanted to make the case for Rousseau
before Hegel. Having recently read/taught Rousseau, (Smith),
Hegel, and then Marx, in that order, I was really struck by
the links between Hegel's (/Marx's) and Rousseau's ideas. Let
me make the argument here and let you decide whether there is
a there there and it's not just that I'm reading Hegel back
into Rousseau.

There are three places of connection: the notion of radical
historical breaks having a transformative effect upon the
individual (i.e., making a new type of individual possible);
the notion of private property as a socially mediated moment
and a moment which transforms the possibilities of the
individual; and third, the notion that man in society lives
"in the eyes of his fellow men" (compare to Hegel's notion of
"recognition"). The first comes through in his "Discourse on
the ARts and Sciences" and more so in his "Discourse on
Inequality". Unfortunately people read him upside down as if
he is arguing that civilization corrupts society (hence "the
noble savage"), when what he is really saying, imho (and in
the opinion of many others), is that when man enters into
society, man is transformed from a being for whom morality and
corruption are irrelevant and into a being for whom these
things are real. I take this idea of historical contingency to
be a central theme for Hegel and for Marx, and this notion of
phylogenetic history is what Vygotsky takes up in his history
of ontogenetic development. So Rousseaus seems particularly
important to Vygotsky by three degrees of separation.

At the same time, I should mention that I haven't documented
this linkage in material terms (don't know if Hegel would have
read Rousseau) even in a circumstantial way (i.e., I can't
even say that he "likely" would have read Rousseau). I'll
raise this at the next staff meeting to see if anyone has any
thoughts/knowledge about whether or not Hegel read Rousseau.
I'm particularly interested in it because I have been trying
to figure out ways to link up Hegel and Durkheim in their
oddly similar nnotion of a social ontology of the subject (as
mentioned above). They seem so dissimilar in their backgrounds
that it seems odd that they would engage with such a similar
argument (and my sources tell me that it is unlikely that
Durkheim would have read Hegel, given D's time and place).

In light of this, I would propose Rousseau as a figure in the
French milieu but probably without a direct line to Hegel -
unless anyone has evidence that can draw this line for us? (or
refute Rousseau's influence on Hegel, Marx, and Vygotsky


Greg Thompson
Ph.D. Candidate
The Department of Comparative Human Development
The University of Chicago
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Andy Blunden http://www.erythrospress.com/
Classics in Activity Theory: Hegel, Leontyev, Meshcheryakov, Ilyenkov $20 ea

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