The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
The Two Discourses and Social ContractBook - 2014
Individualist and communitarian. Anarchist and totalitarian. Classicist and romanticist. Progressive and reactionary. Since the eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau has been said to be all of these things. Few philosophers have been the subject of as much or as intense debate, yet almost everyone agrees that Rousseau is among the most important and influential thinkers in the history of political philosophy. This new edition of his major political writings, published in the year of the three-hundredth anniversary of his birth, renews attention to the perennial importance of Rousseau’s work.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau is one of the most important and influential thinkers in the history of political philosophy. This edition brings together in one volume, superb new translations of the three works upon which that reputation rests: theDiscourse on the Sciences and the Arts, the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, andOn the Social Contract. Rousseau’s political thought rests on the conception of human nature and society developed in the two discourses: that human beings are by nature good and are corrupted in society. With the Social Contract, Rousseau became the first major thinker to argue that democracy is the only legitimate form of government. Rousseau’s French is both literary and philosophical, seamlessly combining the lyrical and the technical. John T. Scott, one of the world’s pre-eminent Rousseau scholars, has given us with translations that are faithful to the originals while capturing the harmony of Rousseau’s prose and conveying an idea of the effect on the reader of reading him in the original. This edition also has a substantial introduction that provides background on Rousseau’s life and context for the political writings, as well as some guidance in their interpretation. There also editorial and translation notes to clarify or explain ideas or terms not familiar to most readers.