Tahiti does not represent a middle period between nature and modern civilization, because he cannot accept the concept of a state of nature at the beginning of, or preceding, historical change itself. Tahiti’s “goodness” must clearly be called into question. He notes thatthe statueofGlaucus has been “disfigured [by time, sea and storms] to such an extent that it looked less like a god than a wild beast” DOI, Thus, on Mira Morgenstern’s reading, Rousseau’s family represents a strange “mixture of socialized evil along with natural goodness” which “underlines the extent towhich the family sits astride a great historical divide. Basic Books, , Indeed, thebirth of new children is a joyful occasion:

Her mother will no longer say to her each month, ‘But Thia, what are you thinking of? See Malcolm Jack, Corruption and Progress: Even “paternal affection” receives a far less sentimental account inTahiti, where children are valued only because they signifymaterial wealth. Her article “Retreat from Politics: Diderot’s Supplement therefore resists assim ilation to any part of Rousseau’s Second Discourse. Elizabeth Wingrove similarly insists on a farmore complex structure in the Second Discourse:

Moral principles are offered as definitive and authoritative; transgressions of these principles appear as profound offenses. The Supplement not only offers a critique of Europe’s bur geoning ambitions for empire, but also provides a subtle and implicit cri tique of dogmatic and moralistic politics which applies to the political system of any single nation.

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Tzvetan Todorov, On Human Diversity: Initially, the discussion focuses upon physical monstrosity, but itquickly veers into a consideration of moral monsters. We also find this attribu tion in Steven Johnston, who describes Rousseau’s Second Discourse as a “theogony sung to praise the goodness of nature,” and inDena Goodman, who claims thatRousseau believes in “the inherent goodness of both man and God.

Such was, or should have been, the origin of society and laws, which gave new fetters to the weak and new forces to the rich, irretrievably destroyed natural liberty, established voywge the law of property and of inequality, changed adroit usurpation into an irrevocable right, and for the profit of a few ambitious men henceforth subjected the entire bouyainville race dissfrtation labor, servitude andmisery.


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Thus, the Tahitian system of veiling demands that people suppress basic urges, precisely the objection which Orou lodges against Europe’s prohibition of extramarital sex. We also findmany of the undesirable thingswhich theOld Man accused Bougainville of bringing toTahiti: A cursory reading of the Supplement does appear to present Tahiti as a natural Utopia and Europe as a civilized prison. Such a depiction of nature could hardly provide a stable referent against which to judge the follies of civilization.

At the same time, they are not natural in the sense that theywere somehow implanted directly intoman in the original state of nature? A solitary creature of instinct,natural man bears little resemblance even to the savage men Rousseau cites. Yet while Orou recognizes all of this, he fails to see how themoralism of Tahitian sexual practice yields precisely the same pattern of secret subver sion.

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Goodman argues that the Supplement actu ally teaches its readers how to read and A that and B represent reader and writer. Cornell University Press, This rather chilling view of human nature explains why Tahiti turns its children into a form of riches?

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Henaff suggests that Diderot was simply unable to extricate himself from his own repressive, bourgeois-European frame of mind, and thus turned his savages into perfect spec imens of modern European man. Rather, theycelebrate sex to the extent that it is procreative. Philosophes also found travelwriting provocative; it challenged theirassumptions about a universal human nature, ideal social institutions, the value of material goods, the relationship between savages and civilized peoples, and a pro gressive narrative of history.

No doubt Thia must also envy her two sisters, both of whom are xupplément mothers. Jean Starobinski lntroduction the Second Discourse as a secularized version of theFall, with the state of nature replac ing theGarden of Eden as paradise lost.


In both cases, “public censure” operates as a pri mary punishment for licentiousness. Many Rousseau commentators have therefore attributed to him a concept of natural goodness, and Rousseau himself has proclaimed this concept elsewhere.

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On the System of Rousseau’s Thought Chicago: There is nomunificent ontology, there is no perfect political system based upon nature’s voice. What could be more absurd than a fidelity restricting the most capricious of our pleasures to a bougaimville individual; than a vow of immutability taken by two beings formed of flesh and blood, under a sky that doesn’t remain fixed for an instant, beneath caverns poised on the edge of collapse, under a cliff crum into dust, at the foot of a tree shedding its bark, beneath a quivering bling stone?

In this “happiest of epochs,” man has come together in communities and acquired the tender affections of fellow-feeling, without yet succumbing to themost violent social passions. Walter Rex goes even further,arguing thatDiderot inadvertently turnsTahiti into a brutal police state.

As Alice Ormiston notes,Rousseau extols thehappy marriage of man’s natural instinctforpitie to the development of reason, a contingent development which occurs through the combination of perfectibil ityand chance circumstances: Moreover, ifnat ural codes of conduct vary across space, theymust also vary across time, as societies change and grow in an always changing and growing local envi ronment, dynamically interactingwith other natural systems.

Every family became a little society, themore united because libertyand reciprocal attachmentwere the only bonds of voyge union” DOI, Anderson, Diderot’s Dream, Because sex is tied to procreation, sex is also a joyful and frequent occasion. As Keenan concludes, moralism is “deeply antipolitical. However, many questions remain. Of course, the chaplain can reproduce but merely chooses not to,and thisallows Orou to condemn “unnatural” European religion.

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