The Philosophers' Magazine , Issue 14, Spring 2001, p. 60
The Philosophers' Review In brief
Rousseau, Timothy O'Hagan
by Shlomit C. Schuster
Rousseau is no biography, but it contains a good introduction on
Rousseau's life and work. Though Rousseau wrote a fair number of au-
tobiographical texts, O'Hagan seems suspicious of this autobiographic
nerve, and mainly relies on the great biographers of the philosopher, such
as Cranston and Guehenno, and on the Chronologie of Gagnebin and Raymond.
O'Hagan focuses on what he coins as the axis of formation in Rousseau's
thought. There are three axes: the formation of the human race, the indi-
vidual, and that of the citizen, rendered by Rousseau in The Second Discourse,
Emile, and The Social Contract respectively.
O'Hagan also points at a dichotomy in Rousseau's moral cognition, provid-
ing for a morality of senses and a morality of duties. These two moralities
are caused by rationalist and romantic thought tendencies in Rousseau.
O'Hagan considers the tension caused by this duality as fruitful, and
he does not try to reconcile these tendencies, as Rousseau himself might
have done. O'Hagan maintains the theory of unresolved tension between Rousseau's
two visions till the very last page of the book, where he presents a third
possibility, a vision that would lead Rousseau beyond the stress of sense
versus duty morality, to an inner world of harmony and solitude. The dynam-
ics between Rousseau's rationalism, romanticism and natural mysticism,
may reveal the philosopher as a New Age hero in his right mind.