Philosophy

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Rousseau's Therapeutic Experiments

Amélie Oksenberg Rortya1

a1 Radcliffe College and Mt Holyoke College

‘Our passions are psychological instruments,’ Rousseau says, ‘with which nature has armed our hearts for the defence of our persons and of all that is necessary for our well-being. [But] the more we need external things, the more we are vulnerable to obstacles that can overwhelm us; and the more numerous and complex our passions become. They are naturally proportionate to our needs.’