Chapter

The last of the ancients the first of the moderns?

Mads Qvortrup

in The Political Philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780719065804
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700495 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719065804.003.0005
The last of the ancients the first of the moderns?

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This chapter presents some conclusions and shows that there was an internal coherence in Rousseau's thought. As befits a classical thinker, Rousseau's contribution to Western philosophy was rich in detail and even broader in scope. Like other critics of modernity, his philosophy was a showdown with a society marred by Godless materialism, absurd social inequalities, and unnatural inter-human relations. Men, argued Rousseau, would not be set free if left to himself. Liberty, as understood by Rousseau, could only be acquired once man had reconciled his natural, spiritual, and social sides of himself with the requirements of living in an advanced civilisation. He further argued that men could only be free when—or if—they recognised the imperatives of living in a family, in a republic and in harmony with a universe created by God.

Keywords: Jean-Jacques Rousseau; philosophy; modernity; materialism; social inequalities; inter-human relations; liberty

Chapter.  6705 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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