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Rousseau's Rediscovered Communion des Coeurs: Cosmopolitanism in the Reveries of the Solitary Walker



Among his various interventions into the debate between patriotism and cosmopolitanism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's most direct and forceful statements expressed a preference for patriotism. As a result, there has long been a sense among his interpreters that Rousseau opposed cosmopolitanism. This interpretation, I argue in this article, is too narrow to accommodate the breadth of Rousseau's writings on patriotism and cosmopolitanism. From the Discourses, to Emile, to the Reveries, Rousseau's reflections on patriotism and cosmopolitanism were ambivalent. Rousseau defended patriotism not on its own merits but on the basis of its relative superiority to abstract cosmopolitanism, which Rousseau dismissed as powerless to motivate moral action. This leaves open the possibility of another kind of cosmopolitanism – an authentic, heartfelt cosmopolitanism – which, if it could be realized, would be preferable even to patriotism. In the Reveries, I argue, Rousseau discovered just such a heartfelt cosmopolitanism, one that points toward an inclusive model of civic affect.