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Rousseau's Idea of Amour-Propre - Essay Example

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Rousseau's Idea of Amour-Propre

This theoretical research on defining amour-propre would highlight on the causes and consequences of 'self-love' in the light of political philosophy. We would analyse the claim that why amour-propre has been a complex ontological process that negatively undermines community and civic harmony and why it is perceived in quest for honor to be superior to others, particularly in liberal societies.
'Amour propre' and 'amour de soi-meme' are two different works of Rousseau which differ in their nature in which they are presented and their effects and must not be perceived alike (Bertram, 2003, p. 22). Amour-propre is an evil effect of amour de soi-meme (self love) which in itself holds a natural innocence for it is close to nature and inclines every living being to be attracted towards its self-preservation. Self-love in contrast to amour-propre respects humanity and does not consider worldly or materialistic ambitions, thereby producing virtue. Amour propre is the ultimate production of society, ruled by the society, and deceived by the society which governs a set of principles to be established for acquiring the genuine source of honor. On contrary 'self-love' is close to nature, ruled by the nature and appreciated by God and is responsible for bringing the true contentment of the human being.
Rousseau's innovative social ontology revolves around the ongoing competition for self-esteem which suggests various dimensions central to understand amour-propre. The first dimension presents before us the reason for social survival that is unalterable to the extent which pressurises the individuals to come together to construct lives with shared understandings and institutions. The cause for social survival has itself causes and consequences, as social existence possess meaning for others in society which in turn reveal important truths about themselves. Truth reveals about the development of self-conscious life which in turn cause the individuals to seek their own identities in the light of worldly materialism which by becoming part of a group compare themselves with other members of the society.
Causes for social survival to name a few includes sharing commonalities with other members, competition for self-esteem, motivation by honor and so on. Though Rousseau succeeded in naming the categories of 'self-love' but where he failed to acknowledge the application of 'self-love' was the area of 'self-exploration'. With 'self-exploration' comes 'self-knowledge' and awareness for which Rousseau never denied that he used self-examination as a means to generate universal knowledge, however he portrayed that self-exploration is something deeply related with self-knowledge.
One can consider self-knowledge to be one of the major consequence for social existence, where Rousseau often portrayed himself as unable to inspect the true source of knowledge, since when he considered that knowledge is from the self, he never meant to exactly oppose ...Show more


Rousseau's idea of amour-propre according to many scholars is what an individual desires for his own self, i.e., self-love. Though no scholar to this day has succeeded to define what Rousseau precisely meant by amour-propre, however a brief survey of the translations and interpretations of scholarly literature indicates it has something to deal with self-pride (Locke, 2003)…
Author : auercarmella
Rousseaus Idea of Amour-Propre essay example
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