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Article: Banishing the Particular: Rousseau on Rhetoric, Patrie, and the Passions

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Abstract: Rousseau initially attempts to secure freedom by grounding political rule in persuasion, rather than coercion. When the spectre of rhetoric undermines this strategy, he is led to ground the volonté générale in the silent and introspective disclosure of the solitary citizen’s inner conscience, which through a sentimentalist transformation of Descartes’s category of bon sens, is recast as an eminently public sentiment. But when rhetorical eloquence turns out to be indispensable to politics, Rousseau turns to republican virtue and the trope of grounding the polity’s freedom in the patrie’s territory and, subsequently, in the citizen’s heart.

(c) 2001 Sage Publications (posted by permission)

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