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Rousseau on Amour-Propre: N.J.H. Dent

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According to familiar accounts, Rousseau held that humans are actuated by two distinct kinds of self love; amour de soi, a benign concern for one’s self-preservation and well-being; and amour-propre, a malign concern to stand above other people, delighting in their despite. I argue that although amour-propre can (and often does) assume this malign form, this is not intrinsic to its character. The first and best rank among men that amour-propre directs us to claim for ourselves is that of occupying ‘man’s estate’. This does not require, indeed it precludes, subjection of others. Amour-propre does not need suppression or circumscription if we are to live good lives; it rather requires direction to its proper end, not a delusive one.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Birmingham

Publication date: 1998-06-01

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