Augustine and Rousseau on the Politics of Confession

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Putnam, Taylor




This thesis looks at the widely acknowledged but largely unexplored relationship between Augustine’s Confessions and Rousseau’s Confessions. In particular, it argues that Rousseau’s text demonstrates an indebtedness to both Augustine’s treatment of time within eternity and the political figure of the Christian preacher. By first comparing their competing interpretations of original sin as told in Genesis and then tracing those interpretations through the autobiographical narratives of each text, it is argued that Augustine and Rousseau both offer their lives as examples of their respective
understandings of human nature. Further still, Rousseau’s attempt to supplant Augustine’s autobiography with his own sees the Augustinian preacher reformulated into the figure of the solitary walker. As a result, what was a politics of the will restrained by the temporal horizon of man becomes unleashed as the imposition of the timeless imagination.


Political Science




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Political Science

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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