What does it mean to be Polish according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Considerations on the Government of Poland

Jean-Luc Guichet

For Rousseau, the Polish problem is the construction of a national identity. Poland, a vast open plain threatened by powerful neighbors, cannot find any principle of resistance except in itself in the form of a Polish soul. In order to face danger, it is necessary to train the citizen by shaping all his passions and opinions in order to make him love and cultivate this identity which bears a Polish unity. A main difficulty, however, will be to generalize this identity originally rooted in a particular group: the nobility. Thus, responding to the bet of a situation of vital emergency, the Considerations represent themselves a kind of theoretical bet of Rousseau.


Keywords: Poland · Rousseau · identity · resistance · Corsica · political philosophy · eighteenth century

Jean-Luc Guichet — full professor in Literature (1650–1800) at the University of Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV), located in Amiens, France. His works focus on Rousseau, the different aspects of the Enlightenment, the relationship man-animals and contemporary issues in anthropology, education and philosophy of the environment. Main books: Traité des animaux, Condillac (commentaire de l’oeuvre), Ellipses, 2004; Rousseau, l’animal et l’homme. L’animalité dans l’horizon anthropologique des Lumières, Cerf, 2006; Usages politiques de l’animalité (dir.), L’Harmattan, 2008; Douleur animale, douleur humaine. Données scientifi ques, perspectives anthropologiques, questions éthiques (dir.), Quae, 2010; De l’animal- machine à l’âme des machines. Querelles biomécaniques de l’âme (XVIIe–XXIe siècles) (dir.), Publications de la Sorbonne, 2010; “L’animal des Lumières” (codir. with J. Berchtold), Dix-Huitième Siècle n° 42, 2010; Problématiques animales. Théorie de la connaissance, Anthropologie, Éthique et Droit, PUF, 2011; “Sensibilité et nature humaine chez Locke et Rousseau” (codir. with T. Ménissier), Annales Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 2012; La question sexuelle. Interrogations de la sexualité dans l’oeuvre et la pensée de Rousseau (dir.), Garnier, 2012. His last book: Figures du moi et environnement naturel au XVIIIe siècle, éditions de la Sorbonne, 2020.   »  

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