Regard for the Other: Embarrassment in the <i>Quatrième promenade</i>

E. S. Burt

in Regard for the Other

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230907
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235575 | DOI:
Regard for the Other: Embarrassment in the Quatrième promenade

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This chapter considers embarrassment in Rousseau and the thwarted language—a language incompletely freed from reference and yet dogged by a fictionality inappropriate to the context—that distinguishes the speaker in that predicament. It argues that embarrassment is not a defense only in the sense that it protects the self against a threat. As verbal blockage, it also inhibits the self from embarking on the trajectory of desire; it defends in the French sense of défender: That is, it forbids the self from communicating or carrying out its own latent wishes. That becomes apparent when the role of writing is considered, well known since Starobinski as the route Rousseau takes to circumvent embarrassment.

Keywords: Rousseau; shame; embarrassment; thwarted language; verbal blockage; de Man

Chapter.  10582 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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