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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are Rousseau's ideas essentially democratic or totalitarian?
It is not difficult to portray Rousseau's ideas as authoritarian or totalitarian. He denied citizenship to women (though this was normal for thinkers of his age). He used language such as" forced to be free" and "trained to bear with docility the yoke of the public happiness". The Censorial Tribunal and the insistence on a civil religion seem illiberal to the modern...
Published on 4 Feb 2011 by Derek Jones

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7 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A nasty book by a nasty man
I have a theory that while it's possible to be a bad man but a good engineer or scientist (von Braun, probably Einstein, in his dealings with women, maybe even Newton), you cannot be a bad man and a good philosopher, certainly not of ethics or political philosophy.

Rousseau, on this account, was a worthless man who wrote the ur-text of modern...
Published on 21 July 2009 by Charles Brewer


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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Political Philosophy, 23 Feb 2011
In The Social Contract Rousseau aims to convey his theories on the way in which society operates through governance. Being the result of many years of work by the author, he abandoned the greater bulk of it after reaching the conclusion that he had `reached his limitations`. In a moment of cynicism, I might venture to surmise that there may have been other more pragmatic considerations surfacing in the publishing industry.

This work resides in the genre of Political Philosophy. It is concerned primarily with the interplay of interests and influence within society which in turn necessitates laws and government. A significant emphasis is placed on the theory of the General Will. Rousseau argues that upon man's emergence from his primitive state, `there was a remarkable change in him` and there was a `substitution of justice for instinct in his conduct, giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and the right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations`.

`The first societies governed themselves aristocratically. The heads of families took council together on public affairs. The young bowed without question to the authority of experience. The savages of North America govern themselves in this way even now, and their government is admirable.` (1750s). `When among the happiest people in the world, bands of peasants are seen regulating affairs of State under an oak, and always acting wisely, can we help scorning the ingenious methods of other nations, which make themselves illustrious and wretched with so much art and mystery`.

Rousseau concludes that `There has been at all times much dispute concerning the best form of government, without consideration of the fact that each is in some cases the best, and in others the worst`. He adds, `it follows that, generally, democratic government suits small States, aristocratic government those of middle size, and monarchy great ones. But it is impossible to count the innumerable circumstances which may furnish exceptions`.

We see that today, some 250 years after Rousseau, that the problems of governance and coexistence persist. Judging by the evidence of settlement left in the archaeological record, human civilisation has existed for some 10,000 years. Not long when considered within the history of our species as a whole. The Social Contract is merely experiencing teething problems.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Dec 2014
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new copy of old classic, thanks
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading, 31 Oct 2014
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A pure classic of politics
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Aug 2014
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L. Hughes - See all my reviews
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Great job, would recommend
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The genius that is JJ Rousseau, 12 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Social Contract (Kindle Edition)
An enlightenment on how states are built and how they come up or down by their laws. WORDS like State, sovereign have their meanings rightly distinguished and accentuated.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How do I rate this?, 20 July 2009
On the one hand I want to give it five stars because it is an excellent edition, and it is indispensable for understanding modern history, and the modern world; on the other I want to give it one start because it is in general a load of arrogant tosh.
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25 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Warning From History, 19 May 2004
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This review is from: The Social Contract (Classics) (Paperback)
This is an important book, perhaps one of the most influential ever written. Unfortunately its influence has been wholly pernicious in the extreme - the blueprint for totalitarian regimes the world over. Rousseau was a psychotic and self obsessed individual who elaborated a theory of human civilization at odds with the basic principles of common sense and reason. From the French Revolutionary terror to the Soviet Gulags - the hallmarks of Rousseau's absurd doctrines can be found. But a willfull disregard for reality seems to be the prerequisite for so called enlightened thinkers and those that provided the ideological bedrock for revolutionaries from the french revolution onwards. The most recent example of an attempt to throw off the 'shackles' of civilization occured in Cambodia - Pol Pot - a true disciple of Rousseau, nurtured in the intellectual salons of the Left Bank. Savage indeed, but noble? In the fevered dreams of Marxist intellectuals were the ovens and gulags first delineated - Rousseau was their precursor, an important document, handle with care.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars classic should be read, 8 Jun 2010
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Conor Murphy "ronoc" (ireland) - See all my reviews
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This is a classic for a reason, because many of todays governments have their origins in it, against it, or simply influenced by it. Because of this it should be read. Buy it. It's not that evil, it's not that perfect.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Social Contract, 1 Aug 2011
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Classic

Rousseau was- a genius in his day and most of what he writes can be applied today - the premise man is born free but everywhere he is in chains - is economically true for the majority of the worlds population

JJR - rocks
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rouseau's Social Contract, 1 Jan 2011
One for the bookshelf. Funny how much of this is just accepted nowadays, but how revolutionary these ideas were at the time. We need to be aware that our accepted modus vivendi comes from works such as this and John Stuart Mills.
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The Social Contract (Classics)
The Social Contract (Classics) by Jean Jacque Rousseau (Paperback - 19 Sep 1968)
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