The Critique of Consumerism in Rousseau's Emile

Environmental Ethics 33 (1):57-66 (2011)
The trajectory from Rousseau through romanticism to twentieth-century efforts to preserve natural settings for their aesthetic values is a familiar one. What may be less familiar and more fruitful to explore at the present time is Rousseau’s stoic recognition of the need for limitation and balance in the ways that human beings interact with their surroundings. Rousseau’s discussion of the dynamics of natural need, artificial desires, and human powers or faculties appears in its most elaborated form in Emile, within the context of the pedagogue’s role in fostering authentic happiness. Given our present preoccupation with competition, consumerism, and growth, Rousseau’s ethic of self-limitation and retrenchment is unlikely to be embraced by policy makers any time soon, but his alternative vision nevertheless merits contemporary recognition
Keywords Applied Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0163-4275
DOI 10.5840/enviroethics20113316
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