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This paper reconstructs Rousseau’s claims that the drive for recognition (amour propre) is the principal source of the evils that beset human societies as well as the precondition of what is most valuable in human life, including love, reason, and the striving for excellence. The danger of amour-propre is shown to lie in its relative character: in the fact that it seeks comparative standing in the opinions of other subjects. Because the drive for recognition is highly malleable, it can also be harnessed to form citizens who are capable of willing the general will in a just republic.
KeywordsRousseau Amour propre Recognition Discourse on the Origin of Inequality general will
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