“Ridiculous” dream versus social contract: Dostoevskij, Rousseau, and the problem of ideal society

Studies in East European Thought 59 (1-2):101 - 169 (2007)
Abstract
Drawing on the Second Discourse and the Social Contract and Notes from Underground and “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” this essay examines the striking similarities and fundamental differences between Dostoevskij’s and Rousseau’s treatment of the problem of individual vs. society and their notions of ideal social relations. The essay investigates Rousseau’s attempt to absorb morality into politics and “to concretize” Diderot’s universal moral man into citizen. It also suggests that Dostoevskij takes Rousseau’s attempt at concretization a step further by exposing humanist conceptions of man and society in general as fiction and creating a model of ideal society that absorbs morality, not into politics (as does Rousseau’s model), but into the sanctity of the Word.
Keywords Dostoevskij  Ideal society  Enlightened egoism  Free will  French Enlightenment  Natural man  Rational egoism  Reason  Rousseau  Social man  Split consciousness
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