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Rousseau: 'The Discourses' and Other Early Political Writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521413817
ISBN-10: 0521413818
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...Gourevitch serves Rousseau and hence students very well." Pamela K. Jensen, Review of Metaphysics

Book Description

The work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is presented in two volumes, together forming the most comprehensive anthology of Rousseau's political writings in English. Volume I contains the earlier writings such as the First and Second Discourses.The American and French Revolutions were profoundly affected by Rousseau's writing, thus illustrating the scope of his influence. This volume contains a comprehensive introduction, chronology and guide to further reading, and will enable students to fully understand the writings of one of the world's greatest thinkers.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought
  • Hardcover: 498 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 13, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521413818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521413817
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,366,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a solid translation. It contains the two critical dialogues of Rousseau's early career, as well as other minor works that reveal more corner of Rousseau's ever-interesting imagination. Furthermore, the work is supplemented by a great introduction, both on the themes of the work and on its terminology. Indeed, the volume contains a sort of glossary before the translations, speaking to each of the most important words within these works. One complaint: I don't like the physical, material aspect of this translation (or Cambridge in general). These sharp blue books have a tough and unyielding 'soft'cover, which really makes holding the book open difficult.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love reading Rousseau. Without making this an analysis of his works I will just state that anyone who wants to understand where some of the roots of our liberties and freedoms come from MUST read this.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best translation of Rousseau that I have ever read. The translation for this series genuinely reflects Rousseau's humor and sarcasm, making the political philosophy a joy to read. Highly recommend this series!
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Format: Paperback
good classic writings of a very important person in our history.
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Format: Paperback
B1 refers to the 'the Discourses', B2 refers to the "Social Contract" by Rousseau

"Man are born free, but everywhere they are in chains."

What a glorious line! Who would not want to shake off the chains and be free? The question is, what kinds of freedom is Rousseau talking about, and where is the source of the evil chain?

Rousseau talks about two kinds of freedom, the freedom to act and the freedom to enjoy the fruits of action, both of which serve the goal of the preservation of life. The freedom to act is called "free will"; it differentiates men from animals and is directed by one's desires.

In the state of nature, the "free will" of men allows them to find creative sources of subsistence as the environment changes, and each is free to enjoy the fruits of their labor because he has labored independently. In civil society, however, men must labor together and share their produces. Under these new conditions, "free will" will lead men to excessive desire which result in the usurpation of the others' freedom to enjoy the fruits of their labor. The loss of the freedom to enjoy puts the life of every member of the society under danger, and hence, in the civil society, "free will" has contributed negatively to its goal of the preservation of life.

The chain of life, therefore, is in fact "free will", which was beneficial for the preservation of life in the state of nature, but detrimental to this goal in the civil society. Hence, for the civil society to achieve its end of preserving life, each individual must give up their "free will" and succumb their freedom to act to the general will of the society.
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