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Amour de soi (French, "self-love") is a concept in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that refers to the kind of self-love that humans share with brute animals and predates the appearance of society. Acts committed out of amour de soi tend to be for individual well-being. They are naturally good and not malicious because amour de soi as self-love does not involve pursuing one's self-interest at the expense of others. The sentiment does not compare oneself with others, but is concerned solely with regarding oneself as an absolute and valuable existence. It is related to an awareness of one's future and can restrain present impulse. Rousseau contrasts it with amour-propre, that kind of self-love, found in Thomas Hobbes' philosophy, in which one's opinion of oneself is dependent on what other people think and which arises only with society.
Rousseau suggested that amour de soi was lost during the transition from the pre-societal condition to society, but it can be restored by the use of "good" institutions created with the social contract. This renewed passage from the state of nature to the civilized state, would bring man to favor justice instead of instinct.
- Robert Derathé, Jean-Jacques Rousseau et la science politique de son temps, Paris, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, 1995, pp. 135-141.
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