It is impossible to reconcile such dramatic punishments for sexual activitywith Bougainville’s depiction of La Nouvelle Cythere. Zone Books, , We have already seen thatRousseau’s speculative account of the state of nature includes a fecund physical environ ment, despite occasional references to inclementweather or threateningani mals. In the third section of the Supplement, Diderot reports a conversation between thechaplain of Bougainville’s ship and his Tahitian host,Orou. If this system genuinely accords with nature, then “nature” has lost vir tually all meaning as a term standing in opposition to culture, artifice, or civilization. The extraordinarycontempt he has for such creatures thus registersas a contempt for nature. The Cynic in Modern Times.

Rousseau rejects this position in footnote 9 of theDiscourse on theOrigin of Inequality, asking rhetorically and sarcastically, “What then! Women seeking non-reproductive sex must sneak out without their veils, risking extreme punishment, because Tahiti, in its self-certainty, grants them no meaningful political voice. Rather, B educates A throughout the texton the appropri ate interpretationof Tahiti. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. Hackett, , Both Orou and Rousseau portraymodern Europeans as conflicted, alienated creatures, torn apart by raging social passions and deeply distrustful of one another. According toOrou, Europe is a society of distrust, secrecy, and deceit.

Oxford University Press, Because sex is tied to procreation, sex is also a joyful and frequent occasion.

I must be very virtuous to forgive such unremitting superiority” SV, Tahiti does not represent a middle period between nature and modern civilization, because he cannot accept the concept of a state of nature at the beginning of, or preceding, historical change itself.

For as soon as it’s permitted to settle ideas of justice and property according to one’s fancy, to ascribe or strike out the traits of things as if they were arbitrary, to attribute or deny good and evil to actions on no other grounds than whim, each person blames, accuses, suspects another; everyone tramples upon each other, becomes envious, jealous, deceitful, distressed, secretive, covert, spying upon another to take him or her by surprise; every one quarrels and lies.


Diderot’s Supplement therefore resists assim ilation to any part of Rousseau’s Second Discourse. A solitary creature of instinct,natural man bears little resemblance even to the savage men Rousseau cites. If Europe is to be condemned for producing envy, jealousy, shame, deceit, and lawbreaking, thenTahiti must be condemned for the same vices.

This content downloaded from His philosophical anthropology in the Second Discourse represents the progress of civilization, especially after the inventionof agriculture andmetallurgy, as a tragic and perhaps irrev ocable catastrophe, enshrining inequality, injustice, dependency, and bitter competitive passions in the foundations of modern society, despite their absence inmankind’s natural condition.

In theReveries of the Solitary Walker, Rousseau explicitly claims that he is still “more or less” guided by the Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar.

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We also find this attribu tion in Steven Johnston, who describes Rousseau’s Second Discourse as a “theogony sung to praise the goodness of nature,” and inDena Goodman, who claims thatRousseau believes in “the inherent goodness of both man and Bogainville.

Her mother will no longer say to her each month, ‘But Thia, what are you thinking of?

To prove his point, he asks the chaplain, “Tell me if there’s any country in theworld inwhich a father,unless held back by shame, wouldn’t rather lose a child, or a husband his wife, than accept the loss of his fortune and the comforts of his life” SV, In the concluding remarks,A asks B, “So, in your view, jealousy does not exist in nature?

This allowance always goes with them. Yet while Orou recognizes all of this, he fails to see how themoralism of Tahitian sexual practice yields precisely the same pattern of secret subver sion.

We cannot say that the tender familial feelings of Rousseau’s savages are wwnatural, insofar as they are developments of the very natural instinct forpitie. If return is indeed impossible, this seems lamentable in light of Rousseau’s depiction of our present condition.


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Perhaps babies are crushed in their mothers’ wombs, trampled under the feet of a priestess. Thus, in the conclusion to theSupplement,A asks B whether or not it is better dee civilise man. Ultimately, however, I argue thata certain strictlylimitedversion ofWokler’s primitivism can be located inRousseau, but not inDiderot. Diderot’s deconstruction of nature departs frombothOrou and Rousseau.

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So Tahiti, we infer,will be a society of openness, honesty, trust, and genuine fellow-feeling. He does not recall the past or dream of the future; he has no complex passions and no intellect; he rarely encounters other men and has no awareness of death. Goodman argues that the Supplement actu ally teaches its readers how to read and A that and Dissertafion represent reader and writer.

For Orou, the violation lies in the imposition of a groundless law of sexual monogamy, whereas forRousseau, the violation begins with the earliest stirringsof amour-propre disserttation achieves its highest expression in the sweeping inequalities and dependencies of modern civi lization.

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I know all this as plainly as if I’d lived among you. With no expecta tions of fidelity, Tahitians happily pursue numerous sexual relationships.

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Nature no longer clearly serves as the standard against which to judge these pathologies. Whereas Europe is moralistic about monogamy, Tahiti is equally moralistic about procreation. Marcel Henaff suggests thatDiderot had become a champion of Rousseauian primitivism: Yet it complicates any attempt to portray Rousseau or Diderot as hewing to a starkopposition between innocentnature and corrupt culture.

Donald Cress Indianapolis, IN: A and Introductoon speculate on the answer toB’s question:

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