My Review of Karen Pagani’s “Man or Citizen: Anger, Forgiveness, and Authenticity in Rousseau”

man-or-citizenI had the privilege of reviewing Karen Pagani’s excellent history of modern attitudes toward sentiment and emotion.

A couple of excerpts from my review:

“Pagani’s achievement…is to develop…a conceptual apparatus through which readers can trace the origin and development of modern attitudes towards anger and forgiveness. Pagani outlines what might be called a political or moral economy of anger and forgiveness.”

“Prior to Rousseau, Pagani writes, conceptions of anger and forgiveness — in the work of, for example, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Locke, Montesquieu, Butler, Diderot, D’Alembert, Holbach, Helvétius, Morelly, and Voltaire — followed a similar, essentially Christian pattern. Simply put, anger was seen as a danger to the social order and forgiveness as a moral obligation brought about by the urgency of the need to dissipate anger. Anger was a privilege of the aristocracy alone. Forgiveness, correspondingly, could be bestowed only by a superior upon an inferior. Rousseau rejected both assumptions — both the notion that anger constituted an inherent danger, and the notion that only those of a certain social status had title to anger.”


NeidlemanPhoto2 (371x470)I teach political theory, along with other subjects I find interesting, such as  the politics of urban land use and urban design, constitutional law, contemporary legal issues, and the politics of the modern Middle East, among others.

My primary research is on the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  I am interested especially in Rousseau as a philosopher of truth, which is the subject of Rousseau’s Ethics of Truth (Routledge, 2017).

“Vitam impendere vero”

Rousseau borrowed this motto (which means “dedicate life to truth”) from Juvenal’s Satires and adopted it for himself in 1758.

What is truth?  Is it the sort of thing that is susceptible to human understanding, and, if so, how?  My research focuses on Rousseau’s approach to asking and answering these questions.