A study/reference guide to Rousseau's political philosophy, including Origin of Inequality (Second Discourse) · Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (First. Politics and the Arts. This excellent translation makes available a classic controversies of the eighteenth century: the quarrel between Rousseau and Voltaire. 'References to the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts are to Rousseau . ? by the Midwest Political Science Association ISSN


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  • Politics and the Arts, Letter to M. D'Alembert on the Theatre
  • Politics and the Arts
  • Politics and the Arts: Letter to M. d'Alembert on the Theatre
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If the play is a comedy, for example, the content is undermined, and if it is tragic, the heroic ideals are exaggerated and politics and the arts rousseau out of the reach of man.

Even if the play happens to portray moral ideals well, the awareness of the audience that it is a fiction does not do the ideas justice.

Politics and the Arts: Letter to M. d'Alembert on the Theatre by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

politics and the arts rousseau However, tragedies are not as dangerous as comediesbecause the characters more closely resemble French citizens. In the play, the main character, Alceste, is good and honest in his relationships with men and made to look ridiculous, whereas Philinte, a deceiver and manipulator, is shown as superior.

Rousseau considers this play to be a work of genius, but it is, of course, morally politics and the arts rousseau. He reasons that even if comedy writers write a play that is morally acceptable, the audience will not find it funny.

Therefore, theatres are of little use.

Letter to M. D'Alembert on Spectacles - Wikipedia

Women naturally have power over men via resistance in the area of relationships and this power can be extended to the play, where women can have the same control over the audience. This extension of the empire of women is against natural order.

Rousseau refers to ancient Spartawhere the most virtuous and appreciated women were those who were modest and generally not spoken about. In the decadence of France, Politics and the arts rousseau claims the most esteemed woman is the one who is most social, most talked about, judgmental and authoritative.

Politics and the Arts Quotes by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Moreover, theatre is incompatible with the rural mindset, where people work hard, and as a result should find simple relaxation pleasurable, rather than the extravagant, over-stimulating entertainment which retards the imagination. A theatre in Geneva would cause the hardworking people to be distracted and pre-occupied if they were to develop a taste for it.

Though a theatre can work to distract the masses of the cities from crime, it is of no use to a smaller city like Geneva, which is politics and the arts rousseau innocent.

Rousseau also describes the weather and geography of Geneva, and argues politics and the arts rousseau it is not particularly conducive to supporting a theatre. In other words, it is easier to not have to deal with corrupted morality and have to change the laws accordingly. Rousseau describes them as scandalous, hedonistic, and compares them to jesterswho were more blatantly indecent and obscene.

Politics and the Arts Quotes

Once again looking to Greece and Rome as an ideal, he says that Sparta did not tolerate theatres, and Rome considered the acting profession dishonourable. He writes that the actor is someone who is artificial, performs for money, subjects himself to disgrace, and abandons his role as a man.


Though the actor is not necessarily malevolent with his talents of deception, Rousseau goes on, the seductive, manipulative nature of acting could potentially be used by actors to do harm in society outside of the theatre.

It is also problematic, according to Rousseau for women and men to be working together as actors and actresses. Because of the natural respect men have for the politics and the arts rousseau sense and timidity of women, for men to be amongst women as actresses will be a further threat to men's morality.

He first tries to sway Geneva away from the idea of theatre by suggesting that it is not economically feasible, and that the population is too low to support a theatre.

Politics and the arts rousseau states that though men have their vices, like drinking, they are far less harmful to society than women's vices. He argues that the presence and authority of women in public spaces corrupts the male youth, turning them effeminate and void of patriotic passion.