The Basic Political Writings


The basic political writings of Rousseau , including

* Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts
* Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
* Discourse on Political Economy
* On the Social Contract

‘The publication of these excellent translations is a happy occasion for teachers of courses in political philosophy and the history of political theory….’–Raymon M. Lemos, Teaching Philosophy

‘The single most comprehensive, reliable and economical collection of Rousseaus explicitly political writings.’–Michael Franz, Loyola College

Jean-Jacques Rousseau remains an important figure in the history of philosophy, both because of his contributions to political philosophy and moral psychology and because of his influence on later thinkers. The concern that dominates Rousseau’s work is to find a way of preserving human freedom in a world where human beings are increasingly dependent on one another for the satisfaction of their needs. In the modern world, human beings come to derive their very sense of self from the opinion of others, a fact which Rousseau sees as corrosive of freedom and destructive of individual authenticity. In his mature work, he explores two routes to achieving and protecting freedom. Though Rousseau believes the co-existence of human beings in relations of equality and freedom is possible, he is consistently and overwhelmingly pessimistic that humanity will escape from a dystopia of alienation, oppression, and unfreedom. In addition to his contributions to philosophy, Rousseau was active as a composer and a music theorist, as the pioneer of modern autobiography, as a novelist, and as a botanist. Rousseau’s appreciation of the wonders of nature and his stress on the importance of feeling and emotion made him an important influence on and anticipator of the romantic movement.

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