By Jeremiah Alberg (auth.)
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Extra info for A Reinterpretation of Rousseau: A Religious System
Everything Relates to That First Accusation” 27 FORGIVENESS In order to avoid scandal, the Gentlemen “pardon” Jean-Jacques. That is, they do not prosecute him publicly for his crimes. At ﬁrst, Rousseau can accept that in “wishing to spare a scoundrel the treatment he deserved,” the Gentlemen ﬁnd it necessary to “take extraordinary precautions to prevent a scandal about this indulgence and place it at such a high price that others would not be tempted to desire such indulgence nor would they be tempted to take advantage of it” (CW 1:54; Pl.
1:885). He sees that it does not matter if Jean-Jacques is good or evil, because his acts will always be interpreted to reﬂect badly on him. ” Rousseau knows that this hatred, this animosity, is the disposition of this generation toward Jean-Jacques by the “look that is given him when he walks through the streets” (CW 1:171; Pl. 1:881). “All the signs of hatred, of scorn, even of rage that can tacitly be shown to a man without accompanying them with an open and direct insult are showered on him from all quarters” (CW 1:172; Pl.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Scandal 17 on the body of the Discourse on Inequality, shows what kind of a universe one inhabits when forgiveness is turned away. Having answered the question of who we are and where we came from, Rousseau turns ﬁnally to the question of what to do. If scandal is the source of the system, then one needs a continual source of scandal to keep the system going. Rousseau provides his readers with such a source in the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts. As demonstrated in Chapter 9, Rousseau sets up a logic of scandal that virtually assures the reader’s getting caught up in scandal regardless of whether he or she agrees or disagrees with him.