This image is the cover for the book Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

This “fresh new rendition of Rousseau’s major political writings is a boon for scholars and students alike”—with a critical introduction by the translator (Richard Boyd, Georgetown University).

Individualist and communitarian. Anarchist and totalitarian. Progressive and reactionary. Since the eighteenth century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau has been called all of these things. Few philosophers have been the subject of such intense debate, yet almost everyone agrees that Rousseau is among the most important political thinkers in history. Renowned Rousseau scholar John T. Scott highlights his enduring influence with this superb new edition of his major political writings.

This volume includes authoritative and lucid new translations of the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, and On the Social Contract. The two Discourses show Rousseau developing his well-known conception of the natural goodness of man and the problems posed by life in society. With the Social Contract, Rousseau became the first major thinker to argue that democracy is the only legitimate form of political organization.

Scott’s extensive introduction enhances our understanding of these foundational writings, providing background information, social and historical context, and guidance for interpreting the works. Throughout, translation and editorial notes clarify ideas and terms that might not be immediately familiar to most readers.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John T. Scott

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was one of the leading figures of the French Enlightenment. The author of popular novels such as Emile, or On Education (1762), he achieved immortality with the publication of philosophical treatises such as The Social Contract (1762) and A Discourse on Inequality (1754). His ideas would serve as the bedrock for leaders of both the American and French Revolutions.

The University of Chicago Press