Search for Self in Other in Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre (Currents in Comparative Romance Languages and Literatures)
Mary Efrosini Gregory
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Search for Self in Other in Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre examines how these five theorists recognized that searching for self in an idealized other can lead to a variety of perversions. Cicero warned against seeking friends whom we regard as being everything that we are not: he advised to first be a good person and then to seek other. Ovid showed that Narcissus, who had no close friends to reinforce his identity, was oblivious to his own assets and tried to live vicariously through other. Rousseau explained why modern man, while seated in a theater, feels compassion and is transported by pity, anxiety and fear for the welfare of fictional characters as if it were his own. Diderot showed how the absence of self can be exploited by the powerful to reshape the minds of the weak. He proves that given the right environment and length of time, any one of us, like the victims in The Nun, could just as easily have his life ruined. Sartre reminds us that it is impossible to be-in-exterior. We see ourselves according to the way that others perceive us based on conditioning and prejudices. Sartre untangles the snarled web of misperception of self that arises from «the look» of the other.
This book addresses man’s growing understanding of the death of self in the mirror of other across the corridors of time - from Narcissus’ ancient pool, to Cicero’s Roman forum, to Rousseau’s Parisian theater, to Diderot’s convent in The Nun, to Sartre’s twentieth-century hell.
emerging from a long retirement, and highly sensitive to the political atmosphere.”10 On the other hand, W.A. Falconer fixes the date of composition in the autumn of 44 BC because of an inquiry that Cicero made regarding Fannius: “The date of its composition belongs within the year 44, but the month cannot be fixed with absolute certainty. It was written after the Cato Maior and after the completion of Divination, in which (Div. ii. 3) Cicero gives the names of his philosophic books so far
each other the truth, even when the facts are unpleasant. Cato had once declared, “Some men are better-served by their bitter-tongued enemies than by their sweet-smiling friends.”56 The key phrase here is “better-served” and indicates that utility is uppermost in Cicero’s mind as he contemplates the attributes of an ally. This raises an existential question: can true friendship ever be realized or is it merely a figment of the imagination? On the surface Cicero takes the position and reiterates
Good-bye! I am crazy. Would you rather that I were not? Good-bye, good-bye.”19 “Why do I not hear from you anymore? Ah! My friend, the dear sister is by your side; you forget me! You neglect me!”;20 “Yes, Uranie has a lot of affection, a lot of esteem for me; however, she did not condescend to add a little flower to your bouquet. Well! Once more these miserable occupations which make us ill will start again.”21 “How I would embrace the both of you, if I were there!…”;22 “When you have embraced
engages with Madame*** later on. Fowler advises, “For ignorance of homosexuality seems inconsistent with the fact that Suzanne is capable of telling a coherent story about homosexuality…The story of Mme***’s passion for her is dramatized with economy and a great deal of psychological nuance; the reader is not obliged to snatch at occasional clues. Worked into Suzanne’s account 128 Search for Self in Other in Cicero, Ovid, Rousseau, Diderot and Sartre there are even anticipations of and
translated and introduced by Hazel E. Barnes (New York: Washington Square Press, 1992), 544. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era (New York: The Viking Press, 1970), 5. Ibid., 10. Ibid., 29. Ibid., 80. Ibid., 97. Ibid. Bibliography Primary Sources Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by H. Rackham. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926. Cicero, Marcus Tullius. On Friendship, in On Old Age; On Friendship; On Divination. Translated by William