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Rousseau's lawgiver as a pedagogical fiction
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Childhood, Education and Society (BUS).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1669-7132
Malmö University, Faculty of Education and Society (LS), Department of Childhood, Education and Society (BUS).
2023 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this essay, we argue that Rousseau’s lawgiver is best thought of as a pedagogical fiction. It is fictional as it reflects an idea that is entertained despite its contradictory nature, and it is contradictory in the sense that it describes “an undertaking beyond human strength and, to execute it, an authority that amounts to nothing” (II.7; 192). Rousseau conceives of the social contract as a necessary device for enabling the transferal of individual power to the body politic, for subsuming individual wills under the general will, and for aligning the good of the individual with the common good. For the social contract to be valid, however, it needs to be preceded by a desire to belong to a moral community that can induce people to join willingly, and that will grant legitimacy to the laws established. If the social contract is the machinery that makes the body politic function, the lawgiver is “the mechanic who invents the machine” (II.7; 191). In this paper we will look closer at the pedagogical functions of Rousseau’s mythical lawgiver by first examining the relationship between the social contract, the general will and the lawgiver. Then, we aim to flesh out a pedagogical understanding of the figure of the lawgiver by way of the two educational dimensions of accommodation and transformation. Finally, we will argue for the importance of understanding Rousseau’s lawgiver as a fictional device allowing for the fundamental and enduring educational task of balancing between the preservation and renewal of society. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2023.
Keywords [en]
Rousseau, lawgiver, pedagogical fiction, the general will, the social contract
National Category
Philosophy Pedagogy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mau:diva-62534OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mau-62534DiVA, id: diva2:1807917
Conference
North American Association for Philosophy & Education, Mundelein, Illinois, 27-29 October 2023
Available from: 2023-10-29 Created: 2023-10-29 Last updated: 2023-11-01Bibliographically approved

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Dahlbeck, JohanLilja, Peter

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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  • nn-NB
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Output format
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  • asciidoc
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