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Public Vision, Private LivesRousseau, Religion, and 21st-Century Democracy$
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Mark S. Cladis

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195125542

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195125541.001.0001

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Evading the City

Evading the City

The Private Path

(p.154) 8 Evading the City
Public Vision, Private Lives

Mark S. Cladis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Explores the private path to redemption, especially as found in Rousseau's Reveries of the Solitary Walker. The public path, as discussed in ch. 7, reflects the Enlightenment hope that human fallenness can be overcome by reforming society; the private path, in contrast, reflects the Augustinian conviction that humans, owing to their inward fallen condition, cannot cure themselves of sin or evil. The public path recommends that individuals ensconce themselves snugly within the enlightened, educative community; the private path recommends that individuals cultivate a spiritual, interior life and extricate themselves from commitments and other social entanglements that exacerbate the human propensity to inflict harm. Like the extreme public path, on the extreme private path there is no conflict between public and private. This time, because there is no public life with which to clash. Ultimately, the remedy of the private path is as extreme as that of the public path. This one calls for the complete loss of the private life, the other the loss of the public. Both are effective, if the goal is to live undividedly. Both are inadequate, if the goal is to live a full, flourishing human existence.

Keywords:   Augustinian, Enlightenment, evil, private, public path, Reveries of the Solitary Walker, Rousseau, solitude

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