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Notes: Includes references. Subjects: Essay. Jean Jacques Rouseau. Immanuel Kant. Genre: Essay. From: MW Books Ltd. Galway, Ireland.

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    Search Within These Results:. Rousseau, Kant, Goethe;: Two essays History of ideas series, no. This can be answered only if we keep in mind the question way of putting the probthat the totality of pleasure in the life of an individual or transformation he effected in the lem. If we mean by optimism exceeds the totality of pain for mankind in general, Kant denies such a doctrine as as Voltaire or Schopenemphatically and unambiguously and Voltaire a reRousseau between the In hauer.

    IV, ;f. It is less than nothing for who would wish to begin life anew under the same conditions or even according to a new self-made plan but one consistent with the course of nature that aimed 65 merely at enjoyment? For a new and different stand; ard of value holds for him, the victor over the principle of eudemonism.

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    The diminution of happiness can not lessen the value of existence, for this does not consist in what happens to a person, but in what a person does. Our deeds, not our outward fate, give life its meaning. For Kant this meaning cannot be impaired by any suffering, and no pessimistic argument can touch it. No matter how low we human existence in terms of and enjoys, there remains the value that a free personality creates for itself. Only a good will can give man absolute value, and by reason of it the existence 56 of the world can have a final purpose. Such a solution of the conflict between "optimism" and "pessimism," and such a transcending of the "dialectic of pure practical reason," of the opposition between happiness Gliickseligkeit and being worthy of happiness Gluckvwirdigkeit was impossible for Rousseau.

    It would have required him to abandon the eudemonism at the basis of his ethical and religious views, for which he fought passionately. But for Kant the rejection of eudemonism definitely eliminates one aspect of Rousseau's thought. The chimera of a Golden Age and the idyll of a pastoral Arcady has disappeared.

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    Man cannot and should not escape pain. Man desires concord, but it ing entails for nature knows better what is good for his species Man wants to live in ease : nature and comfort but nature aims to shake him out of his lethargy and passive 58 satisfaction into toil and labor. With regard desires discord. Kant recognizes only ; the attitude of complete As his Anthropology declares, satisfaction in life is for man unobtainable; and even if there were such a thing we should not desire it, for it would mean stagnaand the blunting of all activity.

    There was a period in which he had considerable respect for such satisfactions, and in his earlier writings, especially in his Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and the Sublime, we sense a delicate appreciation of all the charms of aesthetic cultivation and social intercourse.

    But as he grew older, Kant increasingly renounced them too. If he speaks of the value of life, we hear in him only the strict demands of his tion not a righteous man still supported of the consciousness having upheld and done honor to by mankind in his own person, even in the greatest misforethical rigorism.

    For no one desires such an opportunity, nor perhaps even life itself under such circumstances. But he is alive and cannot bear to be in his. He continues to live only own eyes unworthy of life. Duty's title to respect has nothing to do. It peculiar tribunal. Even if in this way physical life gained a certain strength, the moral decline.

    He set up a strict and lofty ideal of virtue, but he demanded, as the price of serving it, the ful- fillment of his yearning for happiness. Only then would he believe in a benevolent Providence guiding human destinies, and he postulates believe it, I desire the last breath.

    For him civilizaits tion has another law peculiar to itself. It is not the source of happiness, and its meaning does not even consist in providing men with intellectual satisfactions. It is rather man is to test and prove his freedom. Here the mature wisdom of Kant coincides with Goethe's "He only earns his freedom and existence, who daily conquers them the setting in which And ; Werke, v, 9;ff. It has been viewed from the most varied perspec- and quite opposite judgments have been passed upon content and value.

    All the efforts of modern research, tives, its all the critical analyses of Rousseau's work, have not dulled the edge of this contrast. During his life Rousseau passed as the uncompromising opponent of the Christian dogma, as the Deist, the enemy of the faith. As such he was exposed to the persecution of the ecclesiastical and political powers.

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    After his death the judgment was reversed men : saw in him primarily the reviver of feeling, who in con- trast to the reigning eighteenth-century devotion to reason rediscovered the distinctive meaning of religion atid saved from But on this point also faith have true content of Rousseau's as to the opinions been in sharp disagreement. On the one hand men have it seen in dissolution and destruction. On the other, men have claimed him for Catholicism, they have even tried to see in him the forerunner of the Catholic "Restoration" that began in the nineteenth century. But that it fails to establish its central thesis, modern criticism, it seems to 61 me, has proved with irrefutable arguments.