"Abandoned to Ourselves" by Peter Alexander Meyers

Abandoned to Ourselves Being an Essay on the Emergence and Implications of Sociology in the Writings of Mr. Jean-Jacques Rousseau... Peter Alexander Meyers

Publication date:
23 Jul 2013
Yale University Press
552 pages: 235 x 156 x 37mm
7 b-w illus.
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In this extraordinary work, Peter Alexander Meyers shows how the centrepiece of the Enlightenment - society as the symbol of collective human life and as the fundamental domain of human practice - was primarily composed and animated by its most ambivalent figure: Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Displaying this new society as an evolving field of interdependence, Abandoned to Ourselves traces the emergence and moral significance of dependence itself within Rousseau's encounters with a variety of discourses of order, including theology, natural philosophy, and music.

Underpinning this whole scene we discover a modernizing conception of the human Will, one that runs far deeper than Rousseau's most famous trope, the 'general Will'. Abandoned to Ourselves weaves together historical acuity with theoretical insight, enabling readers to find for themselves elements of a reconstructed sociology, inclusive of things and persons and - as a result - suggesting a new foundation for contemporary political theory.

Peter Alexander Meyers is professor of American studies at the Université Paris III—Sorbonne Nouvelle, and a recurring visitor in the departments of Politics, Philosophy, History, and Sociology at Princeton University.

"The most impressive study of Rousseau's social and political system. . . . An absolutely remarkable work that should become essential reading."—Marie-Hélène Huet, author of Monstrous Imagination 

"...an extraordinary book....a genuinely revolutionary perspective, not only upon the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but also upon the terrain and stakes of social and political theory from Rousseau to the present day."—Patchen Markell, author of Bound by Recognition