Rousseau’s Place in the History of Political Thought

Mark Philp and Z. A. Pelczynski

in Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199645060
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741616 | DOI:
Rousseau’s Place in the History of Political Thought

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Plamenatz emphasizes the social character of Rousseau’s political thought and the innovatory character of his work, which drew on earlier traditions but dramatically extended and enriched them. Man is both creator and creature of society, suspicious equally of enlightenment and traditional principles and values, an enemy of inequality, but aware of the dangers of progress and reform. The dangers of society and of progress are that they corrupt man’s independence, and it is as a free and independent agent that man retains his morality. Rousseau’s interests in religion and education are central to his concern with sustaining the morality of social man.

Keywords: Rousseau; society; morality; independence; dependence; enlightenment; religion; education

Chapter.  8680 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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