Download PDF The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Two Discourses and the Social Contract

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Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  3. Jean Jacques Rousseau (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  4. Jean-Jacques Rousseau on nature, wholeness and education

The two discourses show Rousseau developing his well-known conception of the natural goodness of man and the problems posed by life in society. With the Social Contract, Rousseau became the first major thinker to argue that democracy is the only legitimate form of political organization. Scott's extensive introduction enhances our understanding of these foundational writings, providing background information, social and historical context, and guidance for interpreting the works.


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Throughout, translation and editorial notes clarify ideas and terms that might not be immediately familiar to most readers. The three works collected in The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau represent an important contribution to eighteenth-century political theory that has exerted an extensive influence on generations of thinkers, beginning with the leaders of the French Revolution and continuing to the present day.

The new translations on offer here will be welcomed by a wide readership of both Rousseau scholars and readers with a general interest in political thought. Scott is one of the preeminent Rousseau scholars in the world, and he exhibits his expertise here. This new translation is in every particular superb: faithful to the French, albeit not mulishly so; and stylishly readable.

Indeed, I think it combines these two qualities better than any other English translation that currently exists. Also, Scott's introduction provides a compass to navigate Rousseau's textual waters that will help both beginner and scholar to reach shore. New Book.

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  1. The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau : The Two Discourses and the Social Contract.
  2. St John Chrysostom: Homilies on the Second Epistle to The Corinthians.
  3. (PDF) The Social Contract and The taemagymmontke.gq | Raphael Descartes M . Roldan - taemagymmontke.gq!

Twenty-five year bookseller with shipments to over fifty million happy customers. Books is in good condition. Some moderate creases and wear. This item may not come with CDs or additional parts including access codes for textbooks. Might be an ex-library copy. Rousseau wrote the Confessions late in his career, and it was not published until after his death. What is particularly striking about the Confessions is the almost apologetic tone that Rousseau takes at certain points to explain the various public as well as private events in his life, many of which caused great controversy.

It is clear from this book that Rousseau saw the Confessions as an opportunity to justify himself against what he perceived as unfair attacks on his character and misunderstandings of his philosophical thought. His life was filled with conflict, first when he was apprenticed, later in academic circles with other Enlightenment thinkers like Diderot and Voltaire, with Parisian and Swiss authorities and even with David Hume.

Although Rousseau discusses these conflicts, and tries to explain his perspective on them, it is not his exclusive goal to justify all of his actions. He chastises himself and takes responsibility for many of these events, such as his extra-marital affairs. At other times, however, his paranoia is clearly evident as he discusses his intense feuds with friends and contemporaries.

INTRODUCTION

And herein lays the fundamental tension in the Confessions. Rousseau is at the same time trying both to justify his actions to the public so that he might gain its approval, but also to affirm his own uniqueness as a critic of that same public. As such, it is appropriate to consider Rousseau, at least chronologically, as an Enlightenment thinker. Descartes was very skeptical about the possibility of discovering final causes, or purposes, in nature. Yet this teleological understanding of the world was the very cornerstone of Aristotelian metaphysics, which was the established philosophy of the time.

The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In the Meditations , Descartes claims that the material world is made up of extension in space, and this extension is governed by mechanical laws that can be understood in terms of pure mathematics. The scope of modern philosophy was not limited only to issues concerning science and metaphysics.

Philosophers of this period also attempted to apply the same type of reasoning to ethics and politics. In doing so, they hoped to uncover certain characteristics of human nature that were universal and unchanging. If this could be done, one could then determine the most effective and legitimate forms of government. Hobbes contends that human beings are motivated purely by self-interest, and that the state of nature, which is the state of human beings without civil society, is the war of every person against every other.

Hobbes does say that while the state of nature may not have existed all over the world at one particular time, it is the condition in which humans would be if there were no sovereign. These obligations are articulated in terms of natural rights, including rights to life, liberty and property. Rousseau was also influenced by the modern natural law tradition, which attempted to answer the challenge of skepticism through a systematic approach to human nature that, like Hobbes, emphasized self-interest. Rousseau would give his own account of the state of nature in the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men , which will be examined below.

Rousseau's "The Social Contract," Book I

Also influential were the ideals of classical republicanism, which Rousseau took to be illustrative of virtues. These virtues allow people to escape vanity and an emphasis on superficial values that he thought to be so prevalent in modern society. This is a major theme of the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts. This is the work that originally won Rousseau fame and recognition.

For the Enlightenment project was based on the idea that progress in fields like the arts and sciences do indeed contribute to the purification of morals on individual, social, and political levels. The First Discourse begins with a brief introduction addressing the academy to which the work was submitted. In addition to this introduction, the First Discourse is comprised of two main parts.

The first part is largely an historical survey. Using specific examples, Rousseau shows how societies in which the arts and sciences flourished more often than not saw the decline of morality and virtue. He notes that it was after philosophy and the arts flourished that ancient Egypt fell. Similarly, ancient Greece was once founded on notions of heroic virtue, but after the arts and sciences progressed, it became a society based on luxury and leisure.

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Jean Jacques Rousseau (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

The one exception to this, according to Rousseau, was Sparta, which he praises for pushing the artists and scientists from its walls. Sparta is in stark contrast to Athens, which was the heart of good taste, elegance, and philosophy. Interestingly, Rousseau here discusses Socrates, as one of the few wise Athenians who recognized the corruption that the arts and sciences were bringing about. In his address to the court, Socrates says that the artists and philosophers of his day claim to have knowledge of piety, goodness, and virtue, yet they do not really understand anything.

The second part of the First Discourse is an examination of the arts and sciences themselves, and the dangers they bring. The attack on sciences continues as Rousseau articulates how they fail to contribute anything positive to morality. They take time from the activities that are truly important, such as love of country, friends, and the unfortunate. Philosophical and scientific knowledge of subjects such as the relationship of the mind to the body, the orbit of the planets, and physical laws that govern particles fail to genuinely provide any guidance for making people more virtuous citizens.

Rather, Rousseau argues that they create a false sense of need for luxury, so that science becomes simply a means for making our lives easier and more pleasurable, but not morally better. The arts are the subject of similar attacks in the second part of the First Discourse.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau on nature, wholeness and education

Artists, Rousseau says, wish first and foremost to be applauded. Their work comes from a sense of wanting to be praised as superior to others. Society begins to emphasize specialized talents rather than virtues such as courage, generosity, and temperance. This leads to yet another danger: the decline of military virtue, which is necessary for a society to defend itself against aggressors. And yet, after all of these attacks, the First Discourse ends with the praise of some very wise thinkers, among them, Bacon, Descartes, and Newton.

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These men were carried by their vast genius and were able to avoid corruption. However, Rousseau says, they are exceptions; and the great majority of people ought to focus their energies on improving their characters, rather than advancing the ideals of the Enlightenment in the arts and sciences. It exceeded the desired length, it was four times the length of the first, and made very bold philosophical claims; unlike the First Discourse , it did not win the prize.