The General Will and the General Taste: Rousseau on Faction and Fashion
Philosophy and Art History Research Seminar meets weekly in term on Thursday afternoons to discuss a paper by a visiting philosopher, art historian, or a member of our academic staff.
This week's speaker is Dr Jared Holly, a Postdoctoral Fellow, Global Intellectual History Research Group, FU Berlin & Cambridge Centre for Political Thought, University of Cambridge.
Abstract: "The General Will and the General Taste: Rousseau on Faction and Fashion"
The general will has been called Rousseau’s most successful metaphor. And yet, Rousseau’s readers disagree fundamentally over what he meant by it. Is the general will ‘invented’, a creation or construction of democratic politics? Or is it ‘discovered’, an independent standard with which to regulate those politics?
My paper develops a new position on this perennial debate by exploring the analogy Rousseau drew between the general will and what he called the general taste. Focusing on the central problems besetting the formation of the general will and general taste (political faction and cultural fashion, respectively), the paper aims to elucidate the intersection of economic and aesthetic judgment in Rousseau’s political theory.
The seminar will be followed by informal drinks at Top Bar and a meal.