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Fundamental Rousseau: A Practical Guide to the Social Contract, Emile, and More

M. James Ziccardi

Copyright 2011 by M. James Ziccardi

Smashwords Edition

Section 1 - Preface

Portions of this book have been extracted in their entirety from M. James Ziccardi’s Fundamentals of Western Philosophy with the exception of the section dealing with Emile, which exists only in this book.

It is intended to serve as a primer for students of the political philosophy and especially the more important works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Section 2 - Notes on the Text

Square brackets [] found within quotes are mine; Parentheses () found within quotes are the author’s.

Sections in bold type or that are underlined are intended by me to highlight critical points.

Section 3 - Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Biography)


The next major body of work on political philosophy which needs to be examined is that of Swiss-born Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Born in Geneva in 1712 and educated in France, Savoy, and Switzerland, Rousseau was to become one of the leading political philosophers and writers of the 18th-century Enlightenment; in fact, the works of Rousseau are often credited as being the precursor to the Romanticist movement. While in Paris, Rousseau befriended the famous French philosopher Diderot, and contributed several of his essays and articles to Diderot’s renowned Encyclopedie. Besides being an accomplished novelist, Rousseau was also a gifted music composer; however, it is his views on political philosophy that we will be concerned with here. Along with Hobbes and Locke, Rousseau’s political ideas played a key role in the establishment of modern social contract theory, though based on premises which were diametrically opposed to those of his two contemporaries. In fact, Rousseau’s ideas were so influential that he was commissioned to draw up political constitutions for the governments of both Poland and Corsica.

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