A Reinterpretation of Rousseau: A Religious System by Jeremiah Alberg (auth.)

By Jeremiah Alberg (auth.)

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1:858). This is Jean-Jacques’ defense against the plot of the Gentlemen. They may succeed in taking away the goods of this life, but imagination returns them to him. Indeed, “only he is securely happy, because . . nothing can take those of the imagination away from whoever knows how to enjoy them. He possesses them without risk and without fear” (CW 1:119; Pl. 1:814). The difference between the ethereal realms and the underground is clear. In the ethereal realms, there are no obstacles. There is nothing to trip Jean-Jacques.

He explains to the Frenchman the curious goings-on surrounding the portraits and engravings. The “exposé,” as the Frenchman terms it, is occasioned by Rousseau’s following recollection of his first meeting with JeanJacques, a meeting that is supposed to have occurred in the interval between the “First” and the “Second Dialogue”: “Based on the much praised portraits of him that are displayed everywhere and extolled as masterpieces of likeness before he returned to Paris, I expected to see the face of an awful Cyclops like the English portrait or of a grimacing little valet like that of Fiquet” (CW 1:89; Pl.

This is “classic” scandal in the sense that someone who is expected to be, and who claims to be, virtuous is found instead to be debauched. Following this discovery, the Gentlemen enter an unusual path. They do not want to let evil continue, but they do not want to have Jean-Jacques publicly tried and punished. “After having had the misfortune to live intimately with this scoundrel, they could not deliver him over to public prosecution without exposing themselves to some blame” (CW 1:34; Pl. 1:702).

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