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Basic Political Writings: "Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts", "Discourse on the Origins of Inequality", "Discourse on ... ... Political Economy", "On the Social Contract" [Paperback]

Jean-Jacques Rousseau , Donald A. Cress
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1987
'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 Philosophy".


Product details

  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Hackett Publishing Co, Inc (1 Jan 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872200477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872200470
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 308,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"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 Philosophy "The single most comprehensive, reliable and economical collection of Rousseau's explicitly political writings." -- Michael Franz, Loyola College

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5.0 out of 5 stars Facinating 14 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first came across Rousseau, studying Anthropology A level. I was keen to read his discourse on the Origin of Inequality and his thoughts on 'primitive' life being the best and his ideas on whats 'gone wrong' with sociaty. This is the only piece Ive read so far but it was facinating and I love his old fashioned way of writing!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a comprehendible and informative read 5 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
im studying an education studies degree in which rousseau crops up quite a bit. this book was on the reading list and wa an easy read. if youre interested int getting to know about the dicourses, it flows quite easily and draws you in as a reader. possibly not much of a holiday read, but if you like your history and philosophy, give it a go. good to have all of the discourses in once place might i add.
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fast delivery and excellent condition 3 Mar 2009
Format:Paperback
the delivery and condition of the book were first rate.
Heavy reading if this is not you're regular read but valuable for me on my degree course.
Thanks!!
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rousseau Comments on Society and the General Will of Man 26 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "The Basic Political Writings," have a two part effect. Rousseau uses the first portion of the book, the discourses on science and the arts, the origin of inequality, and political economy, to describe the basic policies of then modern society. Rousseau describes the creation of society as a threat against the laws of nature. Rousseau also explains that the origin of society coincides with the concept of personal property. From there society develops by who controls whom into a political system. Rousseau comments on several points in "The Social Contract." In the first book of "The Social Contract" Rousseau explains the limiting of the human spirit by the bonds of society. This is the origin of the infamous line, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." Books two and three describe the attitudes of a nation and its responsibilities to both other nations and its own people. The final book of "The Social Contract" affirms the point that a nation cannot destroy the general will of the people. "The Basic Political Writings" are considered an excellent resource on society simply for its commentary on the general will. Rousseau's writings are amazing when coupled with the later thoughts of Karl Marx in "The Communist Manifesto." Obvious correlation's can be made between Rousseau's commentary and Marx's ideals of the creation of a communist society. Although these writings may not be for the average reader, the points they make extremely thought provoking.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Very Relevant for the Modern Reader 8 Jun 2009
By Edward J. Barton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." - probably Rousseau's most famous line. The Basic Political Writings contains four key works:

* Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts
* Discourse on the Origins of Inequality
* Discourse on Political Economy
* On the Social Contract (where the above quote is from)

Rousseau was certainly controversial 250 years ago when he first was published, and because of that, remains both interesting and relevant today. His admontions on governmental action, democracy, authoritarianism, "progress" and religion are all relevant, and make one think. Though certainly not onsidered a moderate in his day, Rousseau's position would largely be considered the middle way today.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rousseau's influence on Kant 13 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A more immediate influence of Rousseau's political thought was on the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, sometimes called "the philosopher of the French Revolution." Kant took over Rousseau's emphasis on the faculty of will and incorporated it into his political philosophy, especially in Part II of "The Metaphysics of Morals," "The Metaphysical Elements of Justice." There Kant, unlike Rousseau, favored a constitutional government rather than a direct democracy. But he utilized Rousseau's notion of the social contract in the form of a hypothetical agreement among autonomous individuals. Kant's conception of a hypothetical contract was in turn applied by John Rawls in his "A Theory of Justice," so it may be argued that Kant is in some respects a precursor of liberal representive democracy. Rousseau's idea of democracy has more application to contemporary theorists of participatory democracy than it does to Marx, whose "dictatorship of the proletariat" was largely undeveloped. And Mill's "On Liberty" is in many ways a critique of Rousseau's General Will, in that Mill asserted, among other things, that "if all of mankind except one were of one opinion, and that one were of another, all of mankind would be no more justified in silencing that man that would he in silencing all of mankind." So Rousseau's conception of positive freedom (i.e., "freedom to. . ."), encapsulated in his notorious remark that it may be necessary to "force men to be free," has no place in Mill's "On Liberty," which advances the more Anglo-American notion of negative freedom (i.e., "freedom from. . ."). Furthermore, Mill favored a form of representative government (as put forth in his treatise of the same name), so he differs from Rousseau on that point as well.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great collection of works by an unequalled thinker 28 May 2005
By Nathan Andersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is often said that Descartes is the father of modern philosophy; but much of modern philosophy would be unthinkable without the writings of Rousseau. While Descartes put epistemology at the center of philosophy, and used reflections on subjectivity as a means to knowing, Rousseau put the historical human being at the center of his thinking, and thus paved the way not only for Kant but for Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard.

These texts are the ones to look to for the core of his thinking. Read the first and second discourses first -- of which the second is the most critical, but the first gives an easy orientation to his general strategy. The Social Contract is extremely relevant today, when words like "democracy" are bandied about unthinkingly. Rousseau identifies there what a genuine democracy requires: that individuals become prepared through education to cast their vote for what they think is the general good. The conditions for this cannot be established overnight, and cannot be imposed by war or by political pressure.

This is another fine edition by Hackett, who cannot be commended enough for their excellent series of inexpensive philosophical texts. After reading this, take a look at Rousseau's two other brilliant pieces (among many more): Emile, and his Autobiography.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read 26 Jan 2013
By Pauline S - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great book has important essays from him and really helps your understanding of Rousseau! It is also a very good size and is not large.
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