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Daly, R.W. (1969). Rousseau and the Spirit of Revolt: A Psychological Study. William H. Blanchard. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967, xiv + 300 pp.. Psychoanal. Rev., 56A(1):158-160.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Review, 56A(1):158-160

Rousseau and the Spirit of Revolt: A Psychological Study. William H. Blanchard. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967, xiv + 300 pp.

Review by:
Robert W. Daly

Rousseau. This name, especially in these troubled times, will immediately evoke some feeling in the reader familiar with the life and work of the eighteenth century philosopher and social critic who was considered by Kant to be the “Newton of the moral world.” Revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, totalitarianists and constitutional democrats, anthropologists and sociologists, and students of history, literature and philosophy have been attracted and repelled by his productions for two centuries. Have Rousseau's works endured simply because of his elegant style, the accuracy of his social criticism and the fact that many of his political and social prescriptions have proven useful to totalitarian politicians from the time of the Jacobins to the present day?

The enduring interest in Rousseau cannot be understood exclusively in these terms, according to psychologist William Blanchard. The heritage bequeathed to us by Rousseau, particularly his politics of revolution, cannot be fully appreciated until one has “traced the evolution of Rousseau's childhood sado-masochism to the moral foundation of his adult personality” (pp. xi-xii). “The secret of understanding Rousseau is not in the discovery of his ‘real” or conscious attitudes, but in the recognition of his conflict of values” (p. 250) “… both conscious and unconscious” (p. 287, note 19). Blanchard contends that value conflicts originating in Rousseau's childhood and later social experiences had much to do with his mature political beliefs. It is the emotional dynamic implicit in Rousseau's revolt against the overdeveloped society of his time which identifies his spirit with the revolutions in sentiment and valuation which characterize those persons and groups who feel corrupted and emotionally disenfranchised by the ordered inhumanities of the present era.

The early chapters of Rousseau and the Spirit of Revolt consider the origins and the development of Rousseau's conflicted dispositions.

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