The Fables of Pity: Rousseau, Mandeville and the Animal-Fable

Derrida Today 5 (1):21-38 (2012)
Prompted by Derrida's work on the animal-fable in eighteenth-century debates about political power, this article examines the role played by the fiction of the animal in thinking of pity as either a natural virtue (in Rousseau's Second Discourse) or as a natural passion (in Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees). The war of fables between Rousseau and Mandeville – and their hostile reception by Samuel Johnson and Adam Smith – reinforce that the animal-fable illustrates not so much the proper of man as the possibilities and limitations of a moral philosophy that is unable to address the political realities of the state.
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DOI 10.3366/drt.2012.0026
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Aristotle (2012). Nicomachean Ethics. Courier Dover Publications.
Jacques Derrida (1998). Of Grammatology. Johns Hopkins University Press.

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Alex Voorhoeve (2002). Bernard Mandeville. The Philosophers' Magazine 20:53.

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