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Rousseau’s Understanding of Compassion: Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspectives


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Lončar, Karla and Matijašević, Željka. (2014). Rousseau’s Understanding of Compassion: Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Filozofska istraživanja, 34(1-2). pp. 139-152. ISSN 1848-2309

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The paper analyses Rousseau’s use of the concepts of self-love, pity (compassion) and vanity, and their relation to modern psychoanalytic concepts. Self-love is brought into relation with Freud’s self-preservation; vanity is coupled with narcissistic grandiosity and arrogance, while pity (compassion) bears resemblances to the modern concept of empathy. Rousseau’s distinction between the three resonates well with the main controversy within psychoanalytic theory: the one between drive theories and object (relational) theories. Rousseau’s thought can be interpreted as embracing both sides avant la lettre: his emphasizing of self-love is close to instinctual individualism, while pity would be a form of objectal relations. In final analysis, Rousseau’s self-love overlaps with Kohut’s concept of healthy narcissism which is central to the development of personality, as the absence of healthy narcissism is equally problematic as any pathological form of narcissism (idealizing or grandiose narcissism).

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jean-Jacques Rousseau; compassion/pity; psychoanalysis; narcissism; empathy
Subjects: Philosophy
Departments: Department of Philosophy
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2019 12:32
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2019 12:32

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