Rousseau: 'The Social Contract' and Other Later Political Writings

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 24, 1997 - History - 341 pages
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The work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is presented in two volumes, together forming the most comprehensive anthology of Rousseau's political writings in English. Volume II contains the later writings such as The Social Contract and a selection of Rousseau's letters on important aspects of his thought. The Social Contract has become Rousseau's most famous single work, but on publication was condemned by both the civil and the ecclesiastical authorities in France and Geneva. Rousseau fled and it is during this period that he wrote some of his autobiographical works as well as political essays such as On the Government of Poland. This 1997 volume, like its predecessor, contains a comprehensive introduction, chronology and guide to further reading, and will enable students to obtain a full understanding of the writings of one of the world's greatest thinkers.
 

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Contents

I
vii
II
ix
III
xxxv
IV
xlii
V
xliv
VI
liv
VII
3
VIII
39
XIII
153
XIV
162
XV
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XVI
261
XVII
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XVIII
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XIX
272
XX
286

IX
41
X
57
XI
82
XII
121
XXI
290
XXII
323
XXIII
325
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About the author (1997)

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher and political theorist who lived much of his life in France. Many reference books describe him as French, but he generally added "Citizen of Geneva" whenever he signed his name. He presented his theory of education in Emile (1762), a novel, the first book to link the educational process to a scientific understanding of children; Rousseau is thus regarded as the precursor, if not the founder, of child psychology. "The greatest good is not authority, but liberty," he wrote, and in The Social Contract (1762) Rousseau moved from a study of the individual to an analysis of the relationship of the individual to the state: "The art of politics consists of making each citizen extremely dependent upon the polis in order to free him from dependence upon other citizens." This doctrine of sovereignty, the absolute supremacy of the state over its members, has led many to accuse Rousseau of opening the doors to despotism, collectivism, and totalitarianism. Others say that this is the opposite of Rousseau's intent, that the surrender of rights is only apparent, and that in the end individuals retain the rights that they appear to have given up. In effect, these Rousseau supporters say, the social contract is designed to secure or to restore to individuals in the state of civilization the equivalent of the rights they enjoyed in the state of nature. Rousseau was a passionate man who lived in passionate times, and he still stirs passion in those who write about him today.

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