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The Basic Political Writings

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  2,861 ratings  ·  20 reviews
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
Paperback, First Edition, 227 pages
Published November 1st 1987 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.
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Candide by VoltaireThe Social Contract by Jean-Jacques RousseauReveries of the Solitary Walker by Jean-Jacques RousseauJacques the Fatalist by Denis DiderotThe Persian Letters by Montesquieu
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Community Reviews

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although i fundamentally disagree with some of his arguments, he writes very well. his logic is sound as well, i just disagree with some of his premises. very well translated and notated. the introduction is excellent as well.
I was not impressed with Rousseau's theories on politics, natural man or progress. Based on the influence his works have had, I expected much more. Both his knowledge and intellect appear lacking.
I'm a dorck and I liked it. What can I say? I like HObbes even more.
Chris Kalbach
Interesting book, but Rousseau is an incoherent thinker. The Social Contract definitely is his most influential discourse, but to understand it, one must first read his other discourses. In total, he has a brilliant sight into the soul, but he only cares about his own ends. The introduction and notes in this are extremely helpful. I have read the social contract in other forms, but this is the best version I have come across. 5/5 for the translation, 3/5 for Rousseau.
Sarah Furger
Rousseau is a genius, and key to understanding the French Revolution, the 18th century intellectual movement, and Enlightenment thought. He also provides the basis for several other political systems, including the American 'democracy'.

I believe one of the most significant quotes is as follows: "...for it is obviously contrary to the law of nature, however it may be defined, for a child to command an old man, for an imbecile to lead a wise man, and for a handful of people to gorge themselves on
Scott Blade
Everywhere he looks, man is in chains.
I was confused about his conception of the social contract, especially in that he at length in his publication "The Origins of Inequality" denounces the use of a contract in that it exacerbates inequalities and promotes rights violations. Also, his solution to alienate everybody's rights from themselves (in order to pool them all collectively) seems problematic and a little strange coming from him.
Justin Mitchell
Shows how much of a difference a translation can make. I read another translation about a year and a half ago, and was pretty so-so about it, but really enjoyed this one. I like the "Discourse on the Origin of Inequality" a lot more than "The Social Contract," but overall Rousseau is required reading for anyone who wants to understand modern politics.
Nick Urban
I only read the Discourse on the Origin on Inequality (I and II). I thought it was an interesting account of how society comes to be, and how it corrupts our original nature. On the other hand, it seemed to be lacking a prescription for how we might limit that corruption now that we are, irretrievably, in society.
Sep 25, 2011 Alexander added it
Shelves: philosophy
Anyone trying to understand the complicated trajectories of modern thought has to engage with Rousseau. There is a lot going on here, and I'm still not quite sure how (if at all) it hangs together.
Ray Stafford
pretty dry, there were several parts that were very interesting, mainly the section on the social contract theory because of its effect on the american political structure
Carolyn Nash
I really enjoyed "Discourse on the Origin of Inequality." Much of "On the Social Contract" seemed timely.

But much of it also seemed boring as hell.
I love Rousseau's writings. I have hated governments that have made it a radical idea. Everyone should have to read for themselves.
Read: "Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men" and "On the Social Contract"
I only read the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.
The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
Review to come later.
Aug 10, 2009 Claire added it
a little naive
Ivan Denizac
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Jan 29, 2015
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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. Rousseau's own view of philosophy and philosophers was firmly negative, seeing philosophers as the post-hoc rationalizers of self-interest, as apologists for various forms of tyranny, and as pl ...more
More about Jean-Jacques Rousseau...
The Social Contract Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Confessions (World's Classics) Emile or On Education Reveries of the Solitary Walker

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“I ask: which of the two, civil or natural life, is more likely to become insufferable to those who live it? We see about us practically no people who do not complain about their existence; many even deprive themselves of it to the extent they are able, and the combination of divine and human laws is hardly enough to stop this disorder.” 2 likes
“I do not know the art of being clear to those who do not want to be attentive.” 1 likes
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