CFP: The Real, the Possible and the Ideal in Rousseau

Submission deadline: December 5, 2022

Conference date(s):
June 1, 2023 - June 3, 2023

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Conference Venue:

Department Philosophy, University of Paris IV Sorbonne
Paris, France

Topic areas


Call for papers

International Congress of the Rousseau Association

organized by Johanna Lenne-Cornuez and Louis Guerpillon

in Paris, at the Sorbonne, June 1-3, 2023

The Real, the Possible and the Ideal in Rousseau


This interdisciplinary colloquium proposes to explore the categories of the real, the possible and the ideal in the works of Jean‑Jacques Rousseau, in all their literary, political, and philosophical aspects. Several approaches may be considered:

-       Discussions of the real from the perspective of detours through fiction; confrontations of the paradox according to which understanding what is real supposes knowing how to distance oneself from facts. Paradoxically, conjectures concerning socio-political genealogies, love stories in romance novels, pedagogical fictions, and even conspiracy theories contribute to the effort of understanding what is as it is.

-       Among the stakes of Rousseau work is to broaden our sense of the possible, to restitute to history its contingency against those retrospective illusions that tend to present a trajectory as necessary once it is chosen; symmetrically, to refuse those ideological fixations that tend in principle to legitimate what exists.

-       Reflections on how Rousseau aims to found the possibility of critical discourse, on its transgressive function, as well as Rousseau’s singular position within the tradition of utopian thought.

-       Rousseau’s thought pays attention to evolutions, tendencies and revolutions—that is to say to the virtualities that the present holds within itself. Different figures of the possible may thus be articulated: eventuality, potentiality, tendency…

-       More generally, analyses of the narrative tendency in Rousseau’s thought. Why does the possible present itself through narration? What guarantees the truth of the possible in fiction?

-       The ideal allows one to judge the real. The ideal student, the best constitution, sublime notions, perfect love: these figures of perfection hold an irreducible meaning.

-       Delineating the ambivalences of the chimerical. Rousseau criticizes abstract rationality and systematic thinking; he promotes the ‘‘land of chimeras.’’

-       Moreover, the articulation between the real, the possible, and the ideal engages the articulation of the faculties of mind—that between perception, imagination, and reason. The imaginary may be a refuge and may present itself as the condition for a happiness more real than any afforded by reality.

-       Examining the different figures of the hero found in Rousseau’s literary and philosophical œuvre: determining its functions; delineating an ideal, imagining a possible, figuring the real… 

The Rousseau Association’s meetings are bilingual (French/English). All the sessions will be plenary.

Please send all proposals to [email protected]

Thank you for sending a title and an abstract (max. 300 words) as well as a mini-bio (max. 150 mots) before December 5, 2022 in a document titled

name_first name_RA2023_proposal.pdf 

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