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v2.1 Reference

On Imposture

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Literary Lies, and Political Fiction

Imposture is an abuse of power. It is the act of lying for one's own benefit, of disguising the truth in order to mislead. For Jean-Jacques Rousseau, however, imposture is first and foremost power itself. In On Imposture, French philosopher Serge Margel explores imposture within Rousseau's Discourses, Confessions, and Emile.

For Rousseau, taking power, using it, or abusing it are ultimately one and the same act. Once there's power, and someone grants themselves the means, the right, and the authority to force another's beliefs or actions, there is imposture. According to Rousseau, imposture can be found through human history, society, and culture.

Using a deconstructionist method in the classic manner of Derrida, On Imposture explores Rousseau's thought concerning imposture and offers a unique analysis of its implications for politics, civil society, literature, and existentialist thought.

About the Authors

Serge Margel is a philosopher and philologist who teaches at the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He was a student of Jacques Derrida and has authored numerous books and articles on the relations between literature, art, and philosophy. Several of his works have been translated into English, including The Tomb of the Artisan God: On Plato's Timaeus.
Indiana University Press
Studies in Continental Thought

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March 7, 2023
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