Ideal Speech

Geoffrey Hawthorn

  • Hegel contra Sociology by Gillian Rose
    Athlone, 261 pp, £18.00, May 1981, ISBN 0 485 11214 0
  • The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School by George Friedman
    Cornell, 312 pp, £9.50, February 1981, ISBN 0 8014 1279 X
  • Metacritique by Garbis Kortian, translated by John Raffan
    Cambridge, 134 pp, £12.50, August 1980, ISBN 0 631 12779 8
  • The Idea of a Critical Theory by Raymond Geuss
    Cambridge, 99 pp, £10.00, December 1981, ISBN 0 521 24072 7
  • The Politics of Social Theory by Russell Keat
    Blackwell, 245 pp, £12.50, August 1981, ISBN 0 631 12779 8
  • Critical Hermeneutics by John Thompson
    Cambridge, 257 pp, £17.50, September 1981, ISBN 0 521 23932 X
  • Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences by Paul Ricoeur, translated by John Thompson
    Cambridge, 314 pp, £20.00, September 1981, ISBN 0 521 23497 2

Natural man is born free but is everywhere in chains. ‘Civilised man’, unfortunately, ‘is born and dies a slave. The infant is bound up in swaddling clothes, the corpse is nailed down in his coffin. All his life man is imprisoned by institutions.’ Optimists will insist, as Helvétius did to Rousseau, that ‘l’éducation peut tout.’ Pessimists will reply, like de Maistre, that sheep are born carnivorous but everywhere eat grass. How do we know, if the men we see around us and we ourselves are slaves, that natural man is free? By introspection, says Rousseau – in tracing, through biography, the simplicity of the heart and its all but inevitable degradation by society. The biography may be theoretical, as in Émile and the discourse on inequality, or literary, as in the character of Saint-Preux, for instance, in La Nouvelle Héloise, or literal, as in the Confessions.

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[*] The Tragedy of Enlightenment by Paul Connerton. Cambridge, 176 pp., £14 and £4.50, 1980, 0 521 22842.