Free will is a key but contested concept in the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: while the famed philosopher is known to have asserted that free will distinguishes human beings from animals, several interpreters have argued that he merely pretends to have this belief for the sake of healthy politics and to avoid persecution by religious authorities. Through careful readings of key texts and letters, The Free Animal offers a new and original exploration of Rousseau's views on free will. Lee MacLean shows that Rousseau needs and uses the idea of human consciousness of free will to explain the development of morality, convention, and vice. MacLean bases her argument on a broad range of texts, from canonical works to Rousseau's untranslated letters and drafts. Featuring careful analyses and an extensive engagement with the secondary literature, The Free Animal offers a novel interpretation of the changing nature and complexity of Rousseau's intention.
Introduction Chapter 1: Interpreting Free Will and Perfectibility in the Discourse on Inequality Chapter 2: Free Will and Human Development: the Genealogy of Vice Chapter 3: Free Will in Emile: Interpreting The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar Chapter 4: The Quality of Rousseau's Intention and the Reveries of the Solitary Walker Conclusion