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Rousseau's Dog: A Tale of Two Philosophers by David Edmonds (2006-05-04) Hardcover – 1527

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (1527)
  • ASIN: B01K0V66HO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Format: Paperback

David Edmonds and John Eidinow’s book about these two 18th century philosophers is not about philosophy or the two men’s philosophical clash. It is the very human and very public quarrel of two diametrically opposed characters, David Hume, the practical and Rousseau, a man torn by his emotions. The title Rousseau’s Dog is not to be taken at face value – people hoping to read a nice story about a dog will be disappointed, though I can’t imagine that anyone with a notion who either man was, would expect this. Here the actual dog is Sultan, the creature Rousseau cared about and loved more than people. Anyone who has ever had a dog will know that dogs have a natural capacity for unquestioning loyalty - and they don’t doubt, criticise, desert or answer back. But here there are perhaps two other dogs that come into play. David Hume, or Le Bon David as his adoring French supporters christened him, was pressured into helping Rousseau flee to England, thus making Hume into his servant/dog. The other dog of course is what Churchill called his ‘black dog’, or bouts of deep depression. Rousseau certainly was a manic depressive, and increasingly paranoid. No doubt the persecution he suffered both in Switzerland, as well as in France for his revolutionary ideas expressed in his writings made it impossible for him to ever trust a single human being again. Whilst in England, and living in self-imposed isolation, he was torn hither and thither by his overactive imagination and moods. To find that Hume had all his mail intercepted, opened and often not passed on to Rousseau would drive anyone to suspect a plot – whether in the 18th or the 21st century.
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