Welcome! I am a fifth year PhD candidate at the University of California, Davis. My fields of study are political theory and American politics. My research focuses on the work of Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and how his political thought is used by contemporary deliberative democrats. My dissertation is concerned with the tragic character of Rousseau's thought, most especially in his On the Social Contract: Or, Principles of Political Right.
An intense critic of the Enlightenment and modernity, Rousseau is nonetheless often taken to be an advocate for an extraordinarily optimistic form of deliberative democracy. I argue we should take Rousseau's moral psychology more seriously -- along with consequent limitations on the political project. Rousseau is at his most powerful indicting societal corruption, and we should be wary of passing over that critique too quickly.
Let us therefore see through our frivolous displays of good will to what goes on in the depths of our hearts, and let us reflect on what must be the state of things where all men are forced to flatter and destroy one another and where they are born enemies by duty and knaves by interest. (Discourse on Inequality, 128).
The man of the world is whole in his mask. Almost never being in himself, he is always alien and ill at ease when forced to go back there. What he is, is nothing; what he appears to be is everything for him. (Emile, 230).