The Social Contract (Hardcover)
Rousseau's classic treatise of political philosophy espouses ideas and reforms radical for their time.
The Social Contract explores the conflict between a society devoted to a prospering and healthy community, and the interests of commercial enterprise. The thoughtful analysis of society, which at the time was on the cusp of beginning the industrial revolution, and crucially Rousseau's rejection of the monarch's principle of the Divine Right, led to the document becoming an inspiration for the French Revolution.
Rousseau argued for personal freedoms and a community where every member has a say. He was vigorously against slavery, and the subjugation of populations brought under the sway of a state. Instead, Rousseau proposed a system whereby the state represents and serves the best interest of its population, to the enrichment and betterment of the general society - it is this principle which encapsulates the philosophy espoused in The Social Contract.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712 - 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought.
His Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. Rousseau's sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise (1761) was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction. His Emile, or On Education (1762) is an educational treatise on the place of the individual in society. Rousseau's autobiographical writings-the posthumously published Confessions (composed in 1769), which initiated the modern autobiography, and the unfinished Reveries of a Solitary Walker (composed 1776-1778)-exemplified the late-18th-century Age of Sensibility, and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing.
Rousseau befriended fellow philosophy writer Denis Diderot in 1742, and would later write about Diderot's romantic troubles in his Confessions. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophers among members of the Jacobin Club. He was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, 16 years after his death.