If we look at human society with a calm and disinterested eye, it seems, at first, to show us only the violence of the powerful and the oppression of the weak. The mind is shocked at the cruelty of the one, or is induced to lament the blindness of the other...-from the PrefaceAre such concepts of race, class, and wealth inherent to the human condition, or are they results of the development of "civilization"? One of the most important thinkers of the Enlightenment, which laid the groundwork for the modern mind-set, argues that it is only with the creation of agriculture and urban society that inequalities formed. Controversy swirls around the text-some of today's thinkers continue to consider it profound; others contend that it relies on an unsupportable "noble savage" foundation. In either case, this 1752 is one of the greatest works of 18th-century philosophy.Swiss philosopher JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU (1712-1778) was a dramatic influence on the French revolution, 19th-century communism, and much modern political thought. His works include Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750), Discourse on Political Economy (1755), and The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (1762).
The landmark political treatise that refuted the so-called divine right of kings and established the principles of representative government
“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”
With these stirring words, Jean-Jacques Rousseau begins The Social Contract—the first shot in a battle of ideas that would set the stage for the American War of Independence and the French Revolution. In the feverish days of the Enlightenment, Rousseau took aim squarely at the all-powerful French monarchy, proclaiming that no despot, no matter how powerful, had the right to terrorize his people. He laid out a plan for a new kind of government—an idea that was radical then, and remains so now.
The Social Contract is a landmark document from a fascinating period in world history and an invaluable guide to the foundations of modern democracy.
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A foundational text of Western education, this 1762 treatise served as a model for a new approach to teaching during the French Revolution. Emile recounts a boy's education, and Rousseau considered it the most important of his writings. With its theories on the retention of innate human goodness and the avoidance of corruption from bourgeois society, the book offers prime examples of the author's philosophy. Rousseau's five-part approach devotes the first three sections to Emile's early education, including the child's interactions with the larger world and the selection of a trade. The fourth part explores the cultivation of sentiment, with particular focus on natural religion. The book concludes with a profile of Emile's prospective bride, Sophie, that emphasizes the role of mothers in educating their children but encourages women to be submissive to their husbands—a view that excited controversy even among Rousseau's contemporaries and helped inspire Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
"Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains. This man believes that he is the master of others, and still he is more of a slave than they are. How did that transformation take place? I don't know. How may the restraints on man become legitimate? I do believe I can answer that question …" Thus begins Rousseau's influential 1762 work, Du Contract Social. Arguing that all government is fundamentally flawed, and that modern society is based on a system that fosters inequality and servitude, Rousseau demands nothing less than a complete revision of the social contract to ensure equality and freedom. Noting that government derives its authority by the people's willing consent (rather than the authorization of God), Rousseau posits that a good government can justify its need for individual compromises, rewarding its citizens with "civil liberty and the proprietorship of all he possesses." The controversial philosopher further suggests that promoting social settings in which people transcend their immediate appetites and desires lead to the development of self-governing, self-disciplined beings. A milestone of political science, these essays introduced the inflammatory ideas that led to the chaos of the French Revolution, and are considered essential reading for students of history, philosophy, and other social sciences.
Date de première parution : 1755 « J'aurais voulu vivre et mourir libre, c'est-à-dire tellement soumis aux lois que ni moi ni personne n'en pût secouer l'honorable joug ; ce joug salutaire et doux, que les têtes les plus fières portent d'autant plus docilement qu'elles sont faites pour n'en porter aucun autre. » Jean-Jaques Rousseau
"Vous êtes perdus si vous oubliez que les fruits sont à tous et que la terre n'est à personne." Le Discours est une critique virulente et toujours actuelle d'une société où l'homme est dépossédé dès sa naissance de sa qualité d'homme. Il faut relire J.-J. Rousseau. Ses attaques contre le travail, la propriété et, en général, la vie sociale telle que nous la trouvons constituée dans un monde où nous sommes jetés sans l'avoir voulu ont, pour nos oreilles, des échos à la fois très modernes et inattendus. La Reine fantasque est un conte "gai et fou".
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