Bowen, Ralph Henry, 1919-||Logue, William, 1934-
M.A. (Master of Arts)
Department of History
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 1712-1778||Fourier, Charles, 1772-1837
When one has stripped away the Marxian stereotype of "Utopian Socialist" from the intellectual portrait of Charles Fourier, a body of extraordinarily complex and controversial ideas is revealed to the historian. Behind the facade created by his hostile critics. Fourier, designer of a new society and critic of the old in the tumultuous nineteenth century, erected a psychology which readily distinguished him from the Enlightenment tradition of the eighteenth century. Fourier*s view of human nature, in particular his concept of the paramountcy of the passions, was in basic concordance with the Romantic movement which dominated artistic, literary, and philosophical circles in the first half of the nineteenth century. Fourier's apparent indebtedness to the Romantics for many of his ideas has suggested to some critics that his true intellectual ancestor was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the eighteenth-century Swiss writer who enjoyed the friendship of the philosophes while rebuking many of their favorite notions. The problem, then, for the writer of this paper has been to determine the influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the forerunner of Romanticism, upon Fourier, the alleged "social romantic" and builder of a new social and economic order. A reconstruction of Rousseau's "natural man" and Fourier's elaborate system of "passional attraction" indicated that both thinkers shared a similar view of human nature and accepted man's innate drives as a more reliable guide to righteous human behavior than the "cold" reason of the Enlightenment. Second, their criticism of European bourgeois society as corrupt and distorted by values inconsonant with the order of nature exhibited their Romantic disgust with a society that they thought repressed man's natural propensities and turned him into a miserable creature. Finally, Rousseau's culture of the "natural man" and Fourier's "phalanstery" displayed their similar hope for a society which allows man to express his good impulses without the intervention of a discriminatory class structure and a coercive government. It would appear, then, that from Fourier's ostensible familiarity and relative admiration for Rousseau and his agreement with Rousseau's principles that Fourier did, indeed, not only stand in the Romantic tradition but was indebted to Rousseau for the basic formulation of his ideas and the substance and tone of his attack upon conventional society. In a very significant sense, Rousseau was in the vanguard of the protest against what he perceived as the sham values of society and the sanctity of reason. Fourier enriched that rebel tradition in the more eccentric vein of the nineteenth century.
Croft, David J., "The influence of Jean-Jacques Rousseau on Charles Fourier : two romantic views of human nature" (1968). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 5923.
Northern Illinois University
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