Epilogue: in the beginning was song

Mads Qvortrup

in The Political Philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719065804
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700495 | DOI:
Epilogue: in the beginning was song

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This chapter presents an account of Rousseau's philosophy of music. Music was Rousseau's main passion, and this passion spilled over into his political writings in more ways than one. The whole tenor of his prose had a musical aura about it. His works were composed rather than written—which, perhaps, explains his eloquence. Readers of Rousseau's work in the original French have been struck by the rhythmical patterns. This musical quality was not unintended. Through the melodious tone he wanted to prove a philosophical point. Musicheld the key to restoring our original emotions, that natural ‘goodness of man’, which manifested itself in the natural compassion with suffering, weak, and unfortunate individuals. It is, perhaps, indicative that Rousseau—the thinker of natural goodness of man and a composer—never tired of stressing that music and song was man's first impulse.

Keywords: Jean-Jacques Rousseau; philosophy of music; political philosophy

Chapter.  2343 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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