Convenors: Benjamin Thompson & Robin Douglass

This workshop aims to explore the role of the passions in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a theme which, although central to his thought, remains relatively neglected. Rousseau famously maintained that man feels before he reasons and criticised past moralists who had failed to take account of the role of the passions in human understanding. He insisted that ‘all human establishments are based on the human passions and preserved by means of them’, and his analysis of republican institutions was largely concerned with how to preserve love of fatherland as the citizens’ dominant passion. Rousseau engaged with past traditions of thinking about the passions, be they Stoic, Epicurean or Augustinian amongst others, as well as proving an important interlocutor for the way that later thinkers such as Adam Smith would think about the passions and moral sentiments.

The theme of this workshop may be interpreted broadly, and we invite papers that address any aspects of Rousseau’s theory of the passions, including the wide range of emotions and affections in his repertoire. Possible topics might cover, but are in no way limited to: Rousseau’s moral psychology or epistemology; the affects that socialisation and commercialisation have on the passions, or the role of political institutions in cultivating the passions; Rousseau’s engagement with prevailing theories of the passions or his influence on later thinkers; and the role of the passions in Rousseau’s literary, theatrical, musical, religious or autobiographical writings. The theme lends itself well to a variety of academic perspectives and we invite proposals from any disciplinary background.

The workshop will provide an excellent opportunity to explore Rousseau’s theory of the passions in great depth, with up to 12 papers being presented over 3 days. Abstracts (of up to 300 words) for papers in English should be sent by email to the workshop convenors:

Dr. Benjamin Thompson (Kyungpook National University),

Robin Douglass (University of Exeter),