By Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Newly translated by way of Peter Constantine
Edited and with an creation through Leo Damrosch
The crucial Writings of Rousseau collects the easiest and such a lot crucial paintings of 1 of the world’s such a lot influential writers. A towering determine of Enlightenment suggestion, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was once additionally certainly one of that movement’s such a lot passionate and persuasive critics. His terribly unique observations on politics, schooling, and human nature have been provocative of their day and stay resonant greater than 200 years after his demise. Rousseau’s 1762 treatise The Social Contract laid highbrow foundation for either the yankee and French Revolutions, influencing such figures as Thomas Jefferson. An eloquent author with profound perception into human psychology, Rousseau additionally penned probably the most compelling autobiographies ever written—the magisterial Confessions. the whole lot of the 1st 3 books of that masterpiece besides the total Social Contract are integrated during this essential quantity.
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Additional resources for The Essential Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques,” he said to me, “love your country! Do you see these good Genevans? ] But between the lines in the autobiographical Confessions one senses a lonely and discouraging childhood, which concluded in an apprenticeship from which Rousseau impulsively ran away at the age of sixteen. Mainly as a way of getting financial support, he converted to Catholicism. After a year in Turin, during which he was reduced to working as a humble lackey, he went to Annecy in the Savoy (not yet part of France) and became the protégé of a beautiful young Catholic convert named Mme de Warens.
In this way, one is not obliged to make man into a philosopher before making him into a man. His duty toward others is not solely dictated by belated lessons of wisdom, and so long as he does not resist the inner impulse to commiserate he will never do harm to another man or another sentient being, except in the legitimate case where his self-preservation is concerned, in which he is obliged to give preference to himself. By these means one also ends the ancient disputes as to whether animals are part of natural law, as it is clear that since they lack intellect and freedom, they cannot recognize this law; and yet, sharing to some extent as they do in our nature through the sensibility with which they are endowed, it would seem that animals ought also to share in natural right, and that man is subject to some form of duty toward them.
Nature treated these children exactly as the law of Sparta treated the children of its citizens: it made those with a good constitution strong and robust and made all the others perish, thus differing from our societies, where the state, rendering children burdensome to their fathers, kills them indiscriminately before they are born. As the body of the savage man is the only instrument he knows, he puts it to various uses of which our unaccustomed bodies are incapable, and it is our machines that rob us of the strength and dexterity which necessity obliges savage man to acquire.
The Essential Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Jean-Jacques Rousseau