To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Many writers have examined, over the years, Rousseau's views on freedom. One of the most compelling scrutinies is Judith Shklar's Men and Citizens. Her analysis of the “positive freedom” of citizenship in the ideal community of the Social Contract is superb. The multiple requirements Rousseau sets up for the community of the Social Contract make it clear that he did not believe it could be a widely relevant solution to the problem of political liberty – liberty in the polis – within the corrupt world of modern civilization he never ceased to denounce. Shklar has a great deal to say about “men” (and women) in that world. We would like to add some thoughts to her penetrating analysis.
Can one approximate being a “citizen,” if one is forced to live in a corrupt society ridden with inequalities, in which human beings never stop comparing themselves to others and are rarely treated as possible participants in public life? An examination of what could be called “men and women in actual modern societies” leads to a gloomy conclusion: liberty-in-society remains elusive, however hard one tries to protect the individual from the multiple defects so eloquently denounced in the two Discourses. Two examples will suffice.
The first is the case of Emile. On the one hand, his tutor – a thoroughly admirable, if faceless, person – tries to safeguard, or to bring out, l'homme de la nature in his tutee, and to rescue him from the evils of his time and his society by what Rousseau calls “negative education,” so that he will be able to stay “close to his natural condition” and to practice those “first movements of nature” which are “always right.”
Debates about freedom, an ideal continually contested, were first set out in their modern version by the eighteenth-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His ideas and analyses were taken up during the philosophical enlightenment, often invoked during the French Revolution, and still resonate in contemporary discussions of freedom. This volume, first published in 2010, examines Rousseau's many approaches to the concept of freedom, in the context of his thought on literature, religion, music, theater, women, the body, and the arts. Its expert contributors cross disciplinary frontiers to develop thought-provoking new angles on Rousseau's thought. By taking freedom as the guiding principle of their analysis, the essays form a cohesive account of Rousseau's writings.
The last word will never be written about the political thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
One would hesitate to add to the enormous literature already written about Rousseau's Social Contract, if one didn't have the feeling that there is always something left to say. Many of those who have tried to offer a faithful interpretation of the main themes of Rousseau's treatise have lost sight of what might be ambiguous or dangerous about them, and have too often presented them as the solid elements of a perfectly coherent construction. On the other hand, most of those who have criticized Rousseau's thought and found germs of tyranny in his pages, of absolutism in the regimes that were inspired by them, have forgotten the work's premises and the author's intentions: that Rousseau was trying to define a social order founded on man's freedom, the primordial imperative that Rousseau spent his life celebrating. Between these two extremes, there is still room for interpretation, synthesis, and analysis of the main themes of the Social Contract, so as to take into account both the intentions and the results, ideals and reality.
The theme of the general will is at the very heart of the Social Contract. The doubts that it has generated, the prestige that it has enjoyed, have given it the status of a myth. But there are two kinds of myths.
David Welch's book is a welcome contribution to a field – the study of international relations – that all too often degenerates into scholasticism, or develops theories on far too slender an empirical base, or provokes heated debates on arcane questions. Here we have solid academic analysis that is also relevant to the world of policy.
Professor Welch's careful and lucid examination of the role played by considerations of justice in the outbreak of wars has many merits. One of the most obvious is that it is written without jargon, and therefore suggests that even complex issues can be presented in such a way that not only initiates understand them. Another merit is the empirical research he has done in a domain – history – that has been neglected far too often by model-builders on the one hand, and on the other by students who seem to believe that the world, and the study of its politics, began around 1945.
Even more important is Welch's criticism of the kind of “Realism” that has tended to dominate the field, and which rational choice analysis reinforces: a truncated and desiccated view of reality that singles out state interests and calculations of power, and leaves out all the passions and emotions that shape the definition of interests, the hierarchy of preferences, and the objectives of power.
International systems have historically come in two forms: those based on the balance of power and those of a revolutionary nature, including systems organized around bipolar competition. Hoffmann finds the world order of 1987 to contain both these systems and judges it both ambiguous and original. While the tension of these extremes can make the world appear “anarchical,” there are certain agreed upon rules by which the superpowers interact. These rules ultimately preserve order by embracing competition between the United States and the Soviet Union; superpower confrontation is prevented by each nation holding to their own ideals and sovereignty while embracing nuclear deterrence. Having revealed the rules of the superpower game, Hoffmann then subjects them to ethical judgment. Despite the historic duration of peace between superpowers that seems to have been sustained by these rules, Hoffmann finds them both ethically flawed and ultimately unstable. Turning to a brief consideration of United States foreign policy, he points to particular moral difficulties in U.S. stances and urges the development of superpower rules that are effective and ethical.