Few thinkers have enjoyed so pervasive an influence as Rousseau, who originated dissatisfaction with modernity. By exploring polarities articulated by Rousseau--nature versus society, self versus other, community versus individual, and compassion versus competitiveness--these fourteen original essays show how his thought continues to shape our ways of talking, feeling, thinking, and complaining.
The volume begins by taking up a central theme noted by the late Allan Bloom--Rousseau's critique of the bourgeois as the dominant modern human type and as a being fundamentally in contradiction, caught between the sentiments of nature and the demands of society. It then turns to Rousseau's crucial polarity of nature and society and to the later conceptions of history and culture it gave rise to. The third part surveys Rousseau's legacy in both domestic and international politics. Finally, the book examines Rousseau's contributions to the virtues that have become central to the current sensibility: community, sincerity, and compassion.
Contributors include Allan Bloom, François Furet, Pierre Hassner, Christopher Kelly, Roger Masters, and Arthur Melzer.