My latest book (with John Bolender) ‘Rousseau on Language and Literature: Two Perspectives’

I’ve just published an e-book, Rousseau on Language and Writing: Two Perspectives with John Bolender of the UNISINOS (University of Vale do Rio do Sanos)  philosophy department in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil. I met John during his time in Turkey when he was teaching philosophy first at Bilkent University in Ankara and then Middle East Technical University in the same city. John then took up a visiting fellowship at Princeton followed by a similar stay at Western, before his recent more long term move to souther Brazil. He is the author of the books like the  Self-Organizing Mind (Bradford Books/MIT Press, 2010) and Digital Social Mind (Imprint Academic, 2011), along with papers like ‘Hints of beauty in social cognition: Broken symmetries in mental dynamics’, ‘Prehistorical cognition by description: A Russellian approach to the upper paleolithic’, ‘A Two-Tiered Cognitive Architecture for Moral Reasoning’, ‘The Genealogy of the Moral Modules’, and ‘An Argument for Idealism’.

During his recent time in North America, John set up a small independent publisher of e-books, Rousseau, etc. The volume we have co-authored is the second book out from that press.  He had the idea for a joint authored book about Rousseau in which we would offer contrasting perspectives on Rousseau’s Essay on the Origin of Languages (we used the translation in volume 7 of the  Collected Writings of Rousseau from Dartmouth College: Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Related to Music, edited and translated by John T. Scott, Dartmouth College/University Press of New England Hanover NH, 1998).


John’s perspective is Chomskyan, which I think can be described as an innatist approach to language, and related capacities of the human mind, including mathematical capacities; or as a form of naturalism focused on recursive mathematical structures, and the aspects of knowledge which are stimulated by experience, but precede it. My approach is Derridean deconstructive, which I suppose can be briefly described as a search for irreducible paradoxes, of a non-formlised kind, in thought; or as an investigation of the competing forces of metaphysical unity and materialist diversity in philosophy. Other brief definitions I think are possible, but that I hope will do to convey the general nature of these philosophical enterprises. We both wrote essays explaining our approach to Rousseau, and then replied to each other’s essays.

John’s initial essay is ‘Emotion in Language’

My initial easy is ‘Rousseau and Derrida on Liberty and on Language, the First Social Institution’

They are followed by John’s reply to my essay and my reply to John’s essay.

Lance Kirby very kindly provided a foreword to set up the exchange.

I have posted extracts from my work in progress, please use search window (Rousseau should bring up the right results). For the rest, you’ll just have to get hold of the e-book. I have linked to freely available versions of John’s papers above, via, and there are more at his page, so you can easily find the intellectual background he is bringing to the new book.



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