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Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings: Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Discourse on Political Economy, ... The State of War (Hackett Classics)

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This substantially revised new edition of Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings 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 Woot This substantially revised new edition of Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings 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.


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This substantially revised new edition of Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings 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 Woot This substantially revised new edition of Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings 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.

30 review for Rousseau: The Basic Political Writings: Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Discourse on Political Economy, ... The State of War (Hackett Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    عهود المخيني

    This is just brilliant. I cannot help not admiring Rousseau style each time I read for him.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eli

    Read Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and On the Social Contract I dig Rousseau for sure. Interested in reading more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    hal

    x

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    - Crucial passages: 87 (rich and poor, strong and weak, master and slave) 90 (when self love becomes toxic and turns to egocentrism) 104-105 (?) - 65 (love - moral and physical aspects) 77 - 52 “...The former [animals] chooses or rejects by INSTINCT and the later [man] by an act of FREEDOM” - On the Social Contract is Principle if Political Right: 155-183, 188-197, 210-230, 241-252. Human nature and social arrangement possibilities. Philosopher king idea, except useful? Fair and just. “Natural libe - Crucial passages: 87 (rich and poor, strong and weak, master and slave) 90 (when self love becomes toxic and turns to egocentrism) 104-105 (?) - 65 (love - moral and physical aspects) 77 - 52 “...The former [animals] chooses or rejects by INSTINCT and the later [man] by an act of FREEDOM” - On the Social Contract is Principle if Political Right: 155-183, 188-197, 210-230, 241-252. Human nature and social arrangement possibilities. Philosopher king idea, except useful? Fair and just. “Natural liberty (which is limited solely by the force of the individual involved) and civil liberty (which is limited by the general will), and possession (which is merely the effect of force or the right of the first occupant) and proprietary ownership (which can only be based on a positive title)”. “For by its nature the private will tends toward giving advantages to some and not to others, and the general will tends toward equality”. “There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will. The latter consists only the general interest, whereas the former considers private interest and is merely the sum of private wills. But remove from these same wills the pluses and minuses that cancel each other out, and what remains as the sum of the differences is the general will”. “..what makes the will general is not so much the number of votes as the common interest that unites them”. 180 “By itself the populace always wants the good, but by itself it does not always see it. The general Will is always right, but the judgement that guides jt is not always enlightened. It must be made to see objects as they are, and sometimes as they ought to appear to it. The good path it seeks must be pointed out to it”. Emerging people and civil religion 182-83 sounds like Machiavelli. “..each citizen would be perfectly independent of all others and excessively dependent upon the city..for only the force of the state brings about the liberty of its members. .. whence it follows that the larger the state becomes, the less liberty there is.” “Since every man is born free and master of himself, no one can, under any pretext whatsoever, place another under subjection without his consent. To decide that the son of a slave is born a slave is born a slave is to decide that he is not born a man”. “*When, therefore, the opinion contrary to mine prevails, this proves merely that I was in error, and that what I took to be the general will was not so”. Considers clergy a corporate body that should have no role. “It can banish him not for being impious but for being unsociable, for being incapable of sincerely loving the laws and justice, and of sacrificing his life, if necessary, for his duty. ... The dog as if civil religion ought to be simple, few in number, precisely worded, without explanations or commentaries”.

  5. 4 out of 5

    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 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 superfluities while the starving multitude lacks necessities" (81).

  6. 5 out of 5

    James

    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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I'm a dorck and I liked it. What can I say? I like HObbes even more. I'm a dorck and I liked it. What can I say? I like HObbes even more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shad

    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 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott Blade

    Everywhere he looks, man is in chains.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emma Klein

    Not an “endorsement” of Rousseau’s ideas since he seems to only intend for his ideas to apply to white men, but it’s pretty fascinating to read his works written at different points in his life. -Had some bold ideas about evolution, and in one note to the Discourse on Inequality he criticizes the prejudices of other European writers and travelers and how they always apply their “European standards” to others. -Frequently notes his admiration about indigenous communities, unlike most other writers Not an “endorsement” of Rousseau’s ideas since he seems to only intend for his ideas to apply to white men, but it’s pretty fascinating to read his works written at different points in his life. -Had some bold ideas about evolution, and in one note to the Discourse on Inequality he criticizes the prejudices of other European writers and travelers and how they always apply their “European standards” to others. -Frequently notes his admiration about indigenous communities, unlike most other writers, but it feels like more of a fetish because his ideas about indigenous peoples still exist with the “European imaginary” and he’s still “othering” and separating them, that they’re at an earlier/primitive stage in development, which is problematic -For all he does to trace inequality and the decay of European societies, he only cares about inequality of wealth and status for white men, so his Social Contract theory, which seeks to remedy all the issues he lays out in the Discourses, is about white men. -Reveries of a Solitary Walker have a transcendentalist vibe, which is interesting, and give more insight as to where Rousseau was at later in life. -Definitely someone who has to be read several times because he is a man and writer of many contradictions.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

    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 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, difficult to read prose that is as intellectually stimulating as it is mentally draining. Rousseau is NOT difficult to read at all, but this doesn't diminish from its force at all. I would absolutely recommend it with one disclaimer; that much of what Rousseau says is technically not considered correct nowadays-I wouldn't expect him to have the foresight to be correct, nor would I expect that of many 18th century writers- but the point is not to read this for scientific or intellectual facts, it's to read how someone pieced the world together, and that's what Rousseau does here.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ruby vozza

    This is the only translation i have read of Political Economy and that was a fine read, but i do not care for this translation (at all) for Rousseau's discourse on inequality nor for his discourse on the arts and sciences. The whole time I read this translation of those two discourses, I kept being reminded that I was reading a translation of Rousseau, not Rousseau. I think the translators attempted to mold Rousseau's work into a treatise (a disservice to Rousseau), and it felt extremely rigid.. This is the only translation i have read of Political Economy and that was a fine read, but i do not care for this translation (at all) for Rousseau's discourse on inequality nor for his discourse on the arts and sciences. The whole time I read this translation of those two discourses, I kept being reminded that I was reading a translation of Rousseau, not Rousseau. I think the translators attempted to mold Rousseau's work into a treatise (a disservice to Rousseau), and it felt extremely rigid...like if you were to take Plato and try to fit his work into an Aristotelian model (no thank you!). The Masters' translation of Rousseau's first two discourses, which i read before reading "The Basic Political Writings," is more beautiful and absolutely superior.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Austin Hoffman

    Read "On The Social Contract." Very interesting. You can see much of modern political theory reflected in Rousseau. He draws heavily upon classical constitutions and history for his conclusions. Rousseau also operates from an optimistic view of man's nature and contradicts Aristotle's assertion that man is a political animal (?). His comments at the end on religion were fascinating in light of the Roman Varro, who claimed much the same thing (and was the target of Augustine's first ten books in Read "On The Social Contract." Very interesting. You can see much of modern political theory reflected in Rousseau. He draws heavily upon classical constitutions and history for his conclusions. Rousseau also operates from an optimistic view of man's nature and contradicts Aristotle's assertion that man is a political animal (?). His comments at the end on religion were fascinating in light of the Roman Varro, who claimed much the same thing (and was the target of Augustine's first ten books in City of God), and contemporary society's adoption of his proposed civil religion: moral therapeutic deism with one cardinal sin, intolerance.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Colvin

    The Social Contract is really good but the others are unnecessary. Conception of the general will in three aspects was more fleshed out than I expected, & approval of Islamic Caliphates was extremely surprising. Otherwise I don't know what to say I'm pretty fucking sick of 18th Century political economy and done putting Rousseau in my essays. Unless you study political history or philosophy or just hate yourself do not bother with these writings, get summaries in plain english from the Stanford The Social Contract is really good but the others are unnecessary. Conception of the general will in three aspects was more fleshed out than I expected, & approval of Islamic Caliphates was extremely surprising. Otherwise I don't know what to say I'm pretty fucking sick of 18th Century political economy and done putting Rousseau in my essays. Unless you study political history or philosophy or just hate yourself do not bother with these writings, get summaries in plain english from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on JJ Rousseau.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Each piece is fairly short to read and can be done in a sitting or two. I did like how The Social Contract is laid out, with a paragraph or two on a certain part. The other texts were fairly decent and informative. I think Rousseau may be easier to read than a lot other philosophers of his time. Each piece is fairly short to read and can be done in a sitting or two. I did like how The Social Contract is laid out, with a paragraph or two on a certain part. The other texts were fairly decent and informative. I think Rousseau may be easier to read than a lot other philosophers of his time.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    Last chapter on civil religion is pure genius. A pleasure to read in general. Regardless of the ambiguities and, sometimes, contradictions, Rousseau put forward his ideas and their structures very clearly. All themes for him seem to revolve around a certain kind of proportion.

  17. 5 out of 5

    I. Curtis

    Very well written, but god I do not like Rousseau.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alberto Tebaldi

    good thinking points like the correlation between technology and human evil, but overall quite utopistic ideas of a perfect moral society

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ronja

    Discourse on Inequality and Social Contract

  20. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    Excerpts of On the Social Contract

  21. 5 out of 5

    Travis Williams

    The social, the slave, and aristocracy!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    Read for school

  23. 5 out of 5

    Maxim Lauzon

    School...✌🏻

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Field

    Rousseau's diss chapter on Hobbes is top notch scholarly shit-slinging. Rousseau's diss chapter on Hobbes is top notch scholarly shit-slinging.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    While I generally disagree with his notions of "the noble savage" and his general glorification of The State, and also found much Orwellian doublespeak logic to his philosophy ("slavery is freedom"), I do find Rousseau to be an interesting classic philosopher of the 18th century French enlightenment. Rousseau seems to be a vital point of reference to political philosophy, and therefore a necessary read. I am glad to have read it and still see it as a sort of starting-point with the likes of John While I generally disagree with his notions of "the noble savage" and his general glorification of The State, and also found much Orwellian doublespeak logic to his philosophy ("slavery is freedom"), I do find Rousseau to be an interesting classic philosopher of the 18th century French enlightenment. Rousseau seems to be a vital point of reference to political philosophy, and therefore a necessary read. I am glad to have read it and still see it as a sort of starting-point with the likes of John Locke, Hobbes, Voltaire, etc.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ed Fernyhough

    A collection of Rousseau's political writings. His systems are often counter-intuitive and difficult to understand, very complex and not always clearly expressed. Once understood though, they pose some quite ingenious political propositions. His conceptions of the social contract, the general will, the nature of the sovereign, and the nature of government simply as the administrator and executor of the general will of the body politic, are captivating. Credit must be due to Rousseau for opposing A collection of Rousseau's political writings. His systems are often counter-intuitive and difficult to understand, very complex and not always clearly expressed. Once understood though, they pose some quite ingenious political propositions. His conceptions of the social contract, the general will, the nature of the sovereign, and the nature of government simply as the administrator and executor of the general will of the body politic, are captivating. Credit must be due to Rousseau for opposing slavery at a time when not many did; he also offers conventional critiques of hereditary aristocracy, oligarchy (especially plutocratic aristocracy), tyranny, and monarchy, which are very persuasive. He prefers small states governed by direct democracies, which he nevertheless and to the detriment of his own normative ideas considers to be probably impossible; the prophecy he makes about the probable impossibility of his own preferred political system looks increasingly sapient in today's global context of 7.8 billion & some. Given his belief in the 18th century that the direct democracy he advocates was probably impossible even then, the most telling criticism of his political thought should be against his own feckless idealism, when confronted by the concessions he even makes himself. He should also be criticised for his misrepresentation and oversimplification of Hobbes's description of the state of nature & the solutions he offers to achieve peace and security. Rousseau's view of humanity as naturally benevolent, compassionate, and cooperative is naive, though the truth of the issue is probably between his own perception and Hobbes's conclusion that the state of nature is "nasty, brutish, and short" without institutional edification. Overall Rousseau is a thought-provoking political writer, if at many points infuriating through his idealism and the internal inconsistencies of many statements he makes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    Rousseau is one of the most interesting political theorists of his era, due to his palatable way of writing. His books and articles are meant to be understood and acted upon, which makes them much more comprehensible, much like when Marx wrote his manifesto in contrast to most of his other work. Yet, due to Rousseau's intent to write to the masses, his theories are at times contradictory and are consistently overly optimistic when regarding the good of man. Reading him is perhaps most valuable i Rousseau is one of the most interesting political theorists of his era, due to his palatable way of writing. His books and articles are meant to be understood and acted upon, which makes them much more comprehensible, much like when Marx wrote his manifesto in contrast to most of his other work. Yet, due to Rousseau's intent to write to the masses, his theories are at times contradictory and are consistently overly optimistic when regarding the good of man. Reading him is perhaps most valuable in the questions that are asked. He rightfully points to the injustice of certain formulations of politics. His reformulation should be rejected, as it could only become either a dictatorship of one or many, but many of the problems he was attempting to find solutions to remain.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    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. 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.

  29. 4 out of 5

    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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    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.

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