Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Cats and Liberty

Rousseau - painted image

…Rousseau maintained that a person’s attitude to cats was a vital test of character. Those of a despotic nature “do not like cats because the cat is free and will never consent to become a slave.” A relationship with a dog, too should not be one of ruler and subject. […] Rousseau wrote, “My dog himself was my friend, not my slave: we always had the same will, but it was not because he obeyed me.”

Source: p282 Rousseau’s Dog: Two Great Thinkers at War in the Age of Enlightenment by David Edmonds and John Eidinow

About the book:

You’ll enjoy this book if you like celebrity love matches gone wrong or enjoy office politicking. After a “break-up” in the 18th century, celebrated individuals, in this case David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, waged war via news print (consider it early PR), which were plentiful in that day.

Their tiff at times was tiresome. I couldn’t help wondering why two profoundly intelligent men would bother which such silliness, but it all had to do with manners and being perceived a proper gentleman. I found myself longing for a duel or for one man to slap the other man’s cheek (with kid gloves would have been a nice touch).

Despite the tediousness of the wrong and the righting of it (which neither man ever perceived the wrong being righted), I enjoyed learning of the development of their individual ideas and of their personal alliances.

BTW – you’ll have to read the book to learn of the wrong!

2 Replies to “Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Cats and Liberty”

  1. Pingback: Obstacle #2: Moral Relativity. « The Civic Arena

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