Being and Appearance in Rousseau


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Essay #: 054781
Total text length is 5,147 characters (approximately 3.5 pages).

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The beginning:
Being and Appearance in Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau is one of the intellectual figures most closely associated with the rise of a modern, liberal, and scientific form of reasoning. However, despite his close association with the Enlightenment, Rousseau was in the grip of the decidedly atavistic concept of physiognomy, a pseudoscientific theory that, in the words of Porter, held that “character embossed itself directly upon the face or body” (77).
For example, in his Confessions, Rousseau recollects his amour with the prostitute Juliet, whose malformed nipple prompts Rousseau to write: “I immediately began to rack my brains for the reason of such a defect, and [was] convinced that it was connected with some remarkable natural...
The end:
.....all, Rousseau is not content to encounter women-in-themselves; he must imagine them, decode them, and explain them to the point that they lose their own agency or identity and become extensions of his considerable ego. Something very similar is at stake in physiognomy, which reduces the ineffably mysterious and ungraspable secret of human diversity into an easily-mastered set of symbols.
Lavater, Johann Caspar. Physiognomy. London: Wilson, Printer,
Porter, Roy. “Barely Touching: A Social Perspective on Mind and
Body.” In G. Rousseau (Ed.). The Languages of Psyche: Mind and Body in Enlightenment Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990, 45-80.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Confessions. London: Oliver and Boyd,