Clint Eastwood as Rousseau’s lawgiver

by Chris Bertram on September 3, 2003

Over at the Virtual Stoa, Chris Brooke has an highly entertaining post on the uses of the classic western in explaining Rousseau’s political philosophy:

bq. One of the many valuable things I learned from Bonnie Honig when I was a graduate student was that the reasons why Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s lawgiver must leave the city he helps to found in Book Two Chapter Seven of the Social Contract are the same as the reasons why the cowboy rides off into the sunset at the end of a Western….



Harry Tuttle 09.03.03 at 8:45 pm

Up next, Baruch Spinoza and his influence on the films of Bud Spencer and Terance Hill.


Victor Muniz 09.04.03 at 3:32 pm

Don’t forget Christine Korsgaard’s excellent Kantian reading of John Wayne in “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance” (“Taking the Law into Our Own Hands: Kant on the Right to Revolution” in the Festschrift for John Rawls, Reclaiming the History of Ethics). The point is similar: the legal order is founded on an act that is pre- or even anti-legal. The “founder” (Jimmy Stewart) is a fraud, because the real break between outlawry and the civilized order is a (hidden) violent act. In the end, whoever prevails can claim rightful obedience.

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