News & Publications
Lecture on Rousseau at St. John’s College
FOR RELEASE: April 17, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
Jacques Duvoisin, a St. John’s College tutor, will give a lecture on “The Paradox of Pity in Rousseau’s Second Discourse”. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held at St. John’s in the Francis Scott Key Auditorium on Friday, April 23, at 8:15 p.m.
In his lecture Duvoisin will consider the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s argument “that civil society as we experience it today represents a moral decline from our natural condition, rather than an advance.” Says Duvoisin, “Prior to Rousseau, political theorists sought to derive the legitimacy of the modern political state from one or another extrapolated notion of man's natural condition, and always with the assumption that the civil state represents an improvement over the natural condition. But if Rousseau is right, and the civil state really constitutes a decline from man's natural condition, then we will have to reconsider the basis and meaning of the legitimacy of the political state. Would we consider the political state legitimate if it necessarily entailed our own moral degeneracy? Can the state produce its own legitimacy entirely from within itself?”
Duvoisin is a tutor at St. John’s College, Santa Fe. A graduate of the Catholic University of America, Duvoisin has been a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London.