Philosophical Allegories in Rousseau

“Philosophical Allegories in Rousseau”
Philosophy and Literature, Vol. 31, Number 1, April 2007, p. 67-78.

In this essay, I point to an aspect of doing philosophy that is both often overlooked and educationally important. This is the activity of constructing philosophical allegories, of describing or recounting parts of one’s life in more or less explicit philosophical terms. I exemplify this idea of philosophical allegory through readings of three tales in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiographical works. Finally, I point to how the exercise of this capacity for constructing philosophical allegories acts as a counter-force to the kind of melancholia that is now becoming a permanent cultural condition. Learning to see oneself as a philosophical image at least provides a semblance of deeper meaning to what otherwise seems meaningless.