Rousseau's Social Contract
If the greatness of a philosophical work can be measured by the volume and vehemence of the public response, there is little question that Rousseau's Social Contract stands out as a masterpiece. Within a week of its publication in 1762 it was banished from France. Soon thereafter, Rousseau fled to Geneva, where he saw the book burned in public. At the same time, many of his contemporaries, such as Kant, considered Rousseau to be 'the Newton of the moral world', as he was the first philosopher to draw attention to the basic dignity of human nature. The Social Contract has never ceased to be read and debated in the 250 years since its publication. Rousseau's Social Contract: An Introduction offers a thorough and systematic tour of this notoriously paradoxical and challenging text. David Lay Williams offers readers a chapter-by-chapter reading of the Social Contract, squarely confronting these interpretive obstacles. The book also features a special extended appendix dedicated to outlining Rousseau's famous conception of the general will, which has been the object of controversy since the Social Contract's publication in 1762.
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