Lecture 18 - Democracy and Participation: Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality (author's preface, part I)

author: Steven B. Smith, Department of Political Science, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: Jan. 4, 2010,   recorded: November 2006,   views: 4120
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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Description

This lecture is an introduction to the life and works of Rousseau, as well as the historical and political events in France after the death of Louis XIV. Writing in a variety of genres and disciplines, Rousseau helped bring to fruition the political and intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment. Among his most important works is the Second Discourse (Discourse on Inequality), in which Rousseau traces the origins of inequality and addresses the effects of time and history on humans. He goes on to discuss a number of qualities, such as perfectibility, compassion, sensitivity, and goodness, in an attempt to assess which ones were a part of our original nature.

Reading assignment:

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, author's preface, part I

Resources: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality Among Men, translated by Ian Johnston Courtesy of the University of Adelaide Library Electronic Texts Collection

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