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“I hate books”

Starting from Rousseau’s paradoxical assertion in Emile – “I hate books”– this chapter explores Rousseau’s critical theory of books. The first part of the chapter analyses Rousseau’s sociological and pedagogical approach to the acts of publishing and reading books. The social use of books is considered in relation to Rousseau’s critique of the arts and sciences, while the pedagogical approach focuses on the books that Emile is supposed to read. The second part of the chapter examines Rousseau’s practice of philosophical argumentation in relation to his theory of speech and writing. Special attention is given: a) to the development of a “style of argumentation” that combines the expression of subjective sentiment and the discussion of arguments, and b) the importance of the relationship between Rousseau’s text and its readers or addressees with respect to his conception of philosophical truth.

Keywords: books, argumentation, expression, discourse, writing, reading, philosophical truth

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