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date: 26 November 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Rousseau’s theology, like much of his philosophy, is paradoxical. It comprises both a rejection of traditional Christian dogma—notably original sin—as incommensurate with reason, and a defense of Christianity and political religion as institutions transcending the rationalism of the Enlightenment. His thoughts on religion may thus be considered to comprise an anti-theological theology. This chapter discusses the private religion that Rousseau espoused in the Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar, and the civil religion he described in the last chapter of the Social Contract. It points out that his fame as an anti-theologian derives from his anti-intellectualism and personal mystical inclinations. It likewise recounts the influence that his religious thought exercised in Europe until the turn of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: anti-intellectualism, Christianity, civil religion, mysticism, original sin, revolutionary cults, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, theology

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