Sophie Bäärnhielm Pousette


Research project: Self-love, Sin and Sovereignty? The Theological Provenance of Rousseau's General Will


The theological provenance of Rousseau's ‘general will' is broadly acknowledged, but the implications of his alleged 'secularizing' of this concept remain debated, especially with regards to the feasibility of his broader political-philosophical system. Through a rigorous study of the theological, and more specifically Augustinian, genealogy of Rousseau's conceptual apparatus, this research aims to shed new light on some of the philosophical implications of this prehistory. Further, it will discuss the partially shared ancestry of Rousseau's thought and some core tenets of early political economy. Maintaining a focus on the conceptual transition from self-love to self-interest, and accompanying, and conflicting, views on the relation between public, or common, interest and self-serving interest, as well as political discourses on popular sovereignty, the aim is to demonstrate that a insight into the conflicting political theologies informing prevailing economic paradigms and Rousseau's thought might enhance the contemporary relevance of his political and social critique.


After having completed my BA in Philosophy and MA in Aesthetics at Södertörns högskola, Stockholm, Sweden, I went on to complete an MA in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University. (2020) 

I am currently a PhD candidate at Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston. 

Areas of research interest

  • Political philosophy
  • Political theology
  • Economic theology


  • BA in Philosophy, Södertörns högskola, Stockholm, Sweden
  • MA in Aesthetics, Södertörns högskola, Stockholm, Sweden
  • MA in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston University

Funding or awards received

  • Teologifonden 2021
  • Thora Ohlssons stipendium 2021
  • Helge Ax:son Johnson Stiftelse 2022
  • Teologifondens stipendium 2023
  • Stiftelsen Hierta Retzius stipendiefond 2023
  • Gunvor och Josef Anérs stiftelse 2023