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The Basic Political Writings

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  4,726 ratings  ·  26 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. (first published 1755)
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,726 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Read Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and On the Social Contract

I dig Rousseau for sure. Interested in reading more.
Aug 31, 2018 marked it as own-tbr  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reading
Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
Aug 03, 2007 rated it liked it
I'm a dorck and I liked it. What can I say? I like HObbes even more.
Scott Blade
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Everywhere he looks, man is in chains.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
DISCLAIMER: I only read the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, and I don't intend to read more of this book until a later date (though I do intend to read it). The Discourse on Inequality is a very interesting text for students of many fields; political science, sociology, anthropology, philosophy; all are touched upon in this short but packed little essay. The prose is interesting and actually engaging to read, unlike some other enlightenment thinkers who pack their work full of dry, diffic ...more
Bell C.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reading
Very well written, but god I do not like Rousseau.
Sarah Furger
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Chris Kalbach
Nov 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Nick Urban
Aug 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: partially-read
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.
Jul 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
Read: "Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men" and "On the Social Contract"
Brandy Bones
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
oh rousseau - like marx you live in a fairy tale world.
May 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love Rousseau's writings. I have hated governments that have made it a radical idea. Everyone should have to read for themselves.
Jesse Thorson
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Rousseau was actually quite fun to read. He does a lot of very subtle intertextual engagement with themes from Genesis and the Gospels (i.e., wealth and the existential issue of "lack").
Nov 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Read: The Second Discourse, The Social Contract
Ray Stafford
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Feb 15, 2011 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.
Jul 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
I only read the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.
Aug 10, 2009 added it
a little naive
Jan 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Review to come later.
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Apr 26, 2012
Kate Byrne
rated it liked it
Aug 06, 2013
Luke Mayville
rated it it was amazing
Jul 07, 2016
Syed Saad
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Nov 08, 2016
Jai Prakash
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Apr 21, 2013
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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
“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.” 6 likes
“I do not know the art of being clear to those who do not want to be attentive.” 5 likes
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