Few philosophers have been the subject of as much or as intense debate, yet almost everyone agrees on one thing: Jean-Jacques Rousseau is among the most important and influential thinkers in the history of political philosophy. This new edition of his major political writings renews attention to the perennial importance of his work. The book brings together superb new translations of three of Rousseau's works: the Discourse on the Sciences and the 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. Translation and editorial notes clarify ideas and terms that might not be immediately familiar to most readers.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) was a leading Genevan philosopher and political theorist and one of the key figures of the Enlightenment. John T. Scott is professor of political science at the University of California, Davis. He has edited or translated several volumes on Rousseau and is coauthor of The Philosophers' Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding.