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This substantially revised new edition features a brilliant new Introduction by David Wootton, a revision by Donald A. Cress of his own 1987 translation of Rousseau's most important political writings, and the addition of Cress' new translation of Rousseau's State of ?War. New footnotes, headnotes, and a chronology by David Wootton provide expert guidance to first-time readers of the texts.
Rousseau contends that primitive man is equal to his fellows because he can be independent of them, but as societies become more sophisticated, the strongest and most intelligent members of the community gain an unnatural advantage over their weaker brethren, and the constitutions set up to rectify these imbalances through peace and justice in fact do nothing but perpetuate them.
Newly translated by Peter Constantine Edited and with an Introduction by Leo Damrosch The Essential Writings of Rousseau collects the best and most indispensable work of one of the world's most influential writers. A towering figure of Enlightenment thought, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was also one of that movement's most passionate and persuasive critics. His extraordinarily original observations on politics, education, and human nature were provocative in their day and remain resonant more than two hundred years after his death. Rousseau's 1762 treatise The Social Contract laid intellectual groundwork for both the American and French Revolutions, influencing such figures as Thomas Jefferson. An eloquent writer with profound insight into human psychology, Rousseau also penned one of the most compelling autobiographies ever written--the magisterial Confessions. The entirety of the first three books of that masterpiece along with the complete Social Contract are included in this indispensable volume. Paperback edition.
Rousseau seeks to explain why, when freedom is the natural state of human beings, they are not in fact free, and to establish the basis for legitimacy in a political community.
With the publication of The Social Contract in 1761, Jean-Jacques Rousseau took his place among the leading political philosophers of the Enlightenment. Like his contractarian predecessors (Thomas Hobbes and John Locke), Rousseau sought to ground his political theory in an understanding of human nature, which he believed to be basically good but corrupted by the conflicting interests within society. Here self-interest degenerated into a state of war from which humanity could only be extricated by the imposition of a contract. As a party to the compact, each individual would find his true interest served within the political expression of the community of man, or the "general will."
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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