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On Finding Our Authentic Selves: or, the True and the False in the Age of Rousseau


On Finding Our Authentic Selves: or, the True and the False in the Age of Rousseau

Being Part 3 of: Why Liberals Should be Conservative: Climate Change, Excellence, and the Practice of Happiness

It may be urged that every individual man carries, within himself, at least in his adaptation and destination, a purely ideal man. The great problem of his existence is to bring all the incessant changes of his outer life into conformity with the unchanging unity of this ideal. –Friedrich von Schiller

Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for itself; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e. human) being  . . . . This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man—the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species.–Karl Marx

As in every kind of radicalism the moment comes when any critique of the present must choose its bearings, between past and future.  And if the past is chose, as now so often and so deeply, we must push the argument through to the roots that are being defended; push attention, human attention, back to the natural economy, the moral economy, the organic society, from which the critical values are drawn.–Raymond Williams[i]

First, a recap: I have proposed in Part 1 and Part 2 that Liberalism (which, recall, encompasses mainstream liberals and “conservatives”) does not have the conceptual resources to enforce or even encourage limits to consumption. 

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