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Although indisputably one of the most important thinkers in the Western intellectual tradition, Rousseau's actual place within that tradition, and the legacy of his thought, remains hotly disputed. Thinking with Rousseau reconsiders his contribution to this tradition through a series of essays exploring the relationship between Rousseau and other 'great thinkers'. Ranging from 'Rousseau and Machiavelli' to 'Rousseau and Schmitt', this volume focuses on the kind of intricate work that intellectuals do when they read each other and grapple with one another's ideas. This approach is very helpful in explaining how old ideas are transformed and/or transmitted and new ones are generated. Rousseau himself was a master at appropriating the ideas of others, while simultaneously subverting them, and as the essays in this volume vividly demonstrate, the resulting ambivalences and paradoxes in his thought were creatively mined by others.
There is an enduring assumption that the French have never been and will never be liberal. As with all clichés, this contains a grain of truth, but it also overlooks an important school of thought that has been a constant presence in French intellectual and political culture for nearly three centuries: French political liberalism. In this collaborative volume, a distinguished group of philosophers, political theorists and intellectual historians uncover this unjustly neglected tradition. The chapters examine the nature and distinctiveness of French liberalism, providing a comprehensive treatment of major themes including French liberalism's relationship with republicanism, Protestantism, utilitarianism and the human rights tradition. Individual chapters are devoted to Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Aron, Lefort and Gauchet, as well as to some lesser known, yet important thinkers, including several political economists and French-style 'neoliberals'. French Liberalism from Montesquieu to the Present Day is essential reading for all those interested in the history of political thought.