Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article

Le Promeneur Solitaire: Rousseau and the Emergence of the Post-Social Self*

David Gauthier

1. The portrait and the man – each is unique. “Here is the only portrait of a man, painted exactly from nature and completely true to it.” And this man, “it will be myself…. Myself alone…. I am different.” And yet this unique portrait of this unique man, “may be used as the first comparative work in the study of man, which is certainly yet to be begun.”


* For Rousseau's writings I have used the Oeuvres Complètes, eds. Bernard Gagnebin & Marcel Raymond (Paris: Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade), vol. 1 (1959), vol. 3 (1964), vol. 4 (1969); these are abbreviated OC 1, OC 3 and OC 4 in the ensuing notes. They retain Rousseau's orthography and punctuation. The Essai sur l'origine des langues does not appear in the OC; I have used the text published by the Bibliothèque du Graphe (Paris: no date), which is a reproduction of the edition of A. Belin (1817). Particular works are referred to as follows:

Les Confessions de J. J. Rousseau (1780) = Confessions

Du Contral social (1762) = Contrat

Dialogues: Rousseau juge de Jean Jaques (1780) = Premier, Deuxième, Troisième dialogue

Discours sur l'Origine et les fondements de l'inégalité (1755) = Discours

Émile ou de l'éducation (1762) = Émile

Essai sur l'origine des Langues = Essai

Les Rèveries du promeneur solitaire (1780) = Première, …, Dixième promenade

The translations are my own. I am grateful to Candace Vogler for her comments on the original version of this essay.