Reverie's Revelations: The Ontological and Epistemological Dimensions of Rousseau's Turn to Reverie
Reverie was Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s last and, in his view, best attempt to recuperate natural goodness in a modern context. In reverie, Rousseau found what he had long desired—relief for his tortured soul—but, more than that, he discovered a path to otherwise inaccessible truths. For an aging Rousseau, reverie supplanted both social life (as a path toward happiness) and philosophy (as a path toward understanding). This paper maps Rousseauean reverie along the two axes of happiness and understanding or, in more technical terms, along the axes of ontology and epistemology. I argue that Rousseauean reverie synthesizes ontology and epistemology in the form of a new mode of engaging the world, which Rousseau believed could simultaneously exhilirate and enlighten.
Keywords: Rousseau, reverie, ontology, epistemology
Dr. Jason Neidleman
Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of History and Political Science, University of La Verne
Dr. Neidleman returned to the United States in the summer of 1993 to begin graduate work in political theory at Harvard University. At Harvard, he developed research interests in continental theory and French political thought, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in particular. He graduated with a PhD in 1999, having completed a dissertation entitled “The General Will is Citizenship,” written under the supervision of Dr. Stanley Hoffmann. This manuscript was then revised and published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2001, under the same title.
In 2001, Dr. Neidleman began teaching at the University of La Verne, where he is now Associate Professor of Political Science. His current research is on the viability of normative theory in a post-metaphysical context and on Rousseau's languages of truth. He teaches a wide array of classes in the fields of political theory, public law, Middle Eastern Studies, and state and local politics. He also serves as ULV’s pre-law advisor, supervises political internships, and chairs the University's committee on general education.
Dr. Neidleman lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Nicole, his son, Joshua, and his daughter, Eva.