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The Priority of Pity from Calvin to Rousseau

The Priority of Pity from Calvin to Rousseau By Caroline R. Sherman When d’Alembert suggested in the Encyclopédie that Geneva would be more so - phisticated if it had a theater, he drew a famous response from Rousseau, citoyen de Genève. On the contrary, Rousseau replied in his 1758 Lettre à M. D’Alembert sur les spectacles, a theater would destroy the city, since theaters corrupt humani - ty’s noblest sentimental faculty – the ability to pity – by artificially arousing and discharging a false pity for false objects. That Rousseau should have thought of Geneva as a place of pity might be surprising. Geneva was known internation - ally for its works of benevolence and as a place of refuge, but Rousseau’s difficult childhood there had been marked by abandonment before his abrupt departure in 1728 at the age of 16. Helena Rosenblatt has argued that this letter on the theater was an attempt to “forge an alliance between the city’s traditionalist pastoral corps and the people against Voltaire and the Genevan patriciate.” Rousseau was speaking to the pastors in terms they would appreciate, and in doing so he made the connection between their concerns and his pity. The strained relationship between Rousseau and the city of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte - Archive for Reformation History de Gruyter

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
© 2018 by Gütersloher Verlagshaus
eISSN
2198-0489
DOI
10.14315/arg-2018-1090110
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

By Caroline R. Sherman When d’Alembert suggested in the Encyclopédie that Geneva would be more so - phisticated if it had a theater, he drew a famous response from Rousseau, citoyen de Genève. On the contrary, Rousseau replied in his 1758 Lettre à M. D’Alembert sur les spectacles, a theater would destroy the city, since theaters corrupt humani - ty’s noblest sentimental faculty – the ability to pity – by artificially arousing and discharging a false pity for false objects. That Rousseau should have thought of Geneva as a place of pity might be surprising. Geneva was known internation - ally for its works of benevolence and as a place of refuge, but Rousseau’s difficult childhood there had been marked by abandonment before his abrupt departure in 1728 at the age of 16. Helena Rosenblatt has argued that this letter on the theater was an attempt to “forge an alliance between the city’s traditionalist pastoral corps and the people against Voltaire and the Genevan patriciate.” Rousseau was speaking to the pastors in terms they would appreciate, and in doing so he made the connection between their concerns and his pity. The strained relationship between Rousseau and the city of

Journal

Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte - Archive for Reformation Historyde Gruyter

Published: Sep 1, 2018

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