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The impossibility of reason

This book presents an overview of Jean–Jacques Rousseau's work from a political science perspective. Was Rousseau — the great theorist of the French Revolution—really a conservative? The text argues that the author of ‘The Social Contract’ was a constitutionalist much closer to Madison, Montesquieu, and Locke than to revolutionaries. Outlining his profound opposition to Godless materialism and revolutionary change, this book finds parallels between Rousseau and Burke, as well as showing that Rousseau developed the first modern theory of nationalism. It presents an integrated political analysis of Rousseau's educational, ethical, religious and political writings.

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philosopher colleague, the Swiss thinker also believed that political philosophy should be a continuing dialogue with the classics. In the introduction to the Discourse sur l’inégalité (The Origin of Inequality), Rousseau, almost echoing Machiavelli, set out to transcend history and speak directly to all of mankind. As my subject of interest is mankind in general, I shall endeavour to make use of a style adapted to all nations, or rather forgetting time and place, to attend only to men to whom I am speaking. I shall suppose myself in the Lyceum of Athens, repeating the

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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The life and times of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

.S. Eliot, ‘is someone who establishes a culture’ (Eliot 1975: 402). Few others than Plato, Virgil and Christ (and the latter, arguably, had unfair parental support!) can lay claim to this status. As one scholar has put it, ‘In our time Rousseau is usually cited as a classic of early modern political philosophy. He is more than that: he is the central figure in the history of modern philosophy and perhaps the pivotal figure in modern culture as a whole’ (Velkley 2002: 31). Rousseau belongs to the noble few. Reviled and ridiculed, liked or loathed, the Swiss vagabond, who

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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In the beginning was song

Italian music, and upon his return to Paris in 1745, he completed his first opera, Les Muses Galantes (of which only parts have Chap006.p65 111 11/09/03, 13:36 112 The political philosophy of Rousseau survived). It was after the composition of this work that he fell out with the most notable French composer at the time, Jean-Philippe Rameau. During a rehearsal in the house of La Pouplinière in 1745, Rameau accused Rousseau of having copied some of the opera’s passages from an Italian composer. Rousseau never forgave him! Following some difficult years Rousseau

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

political thinker, he combined a sharp analytical mind with the poetic Chap005.p65 95 11/09/03, 13:35 96 The political philosophy of Rousseau sensibility of the composer and the novelist. Rousseau, unlike postmodernists, did not renounce reason but he ceaselessly insisted that the passions ought to be granted their rightful place in the political pantheon. Rousseau, like Plato, recognised that it is multiplicity of the soul and the self which, perhaps more than anything else, characterise l’homme civil. His whole philosophical endeavour seems like one long

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rousseau’s and nationalism

overlooked even by Rousseau scholars.3 Nationalism does not feature in the authoritative works on Rousseau’s political philosophy. Rousseau’s writings on nationalism are mainly contained in two treatises (although traces can be found elsewhere); in Projet de Constitution pour la Corse (1764 ) and in Considérations sur la gouvernement du Pologne (1771). In Du Contrat Social Rousseau availed himself for advice on constitutional engineering to nations that were entitled ‘to be taught by some wise man how to preserve freedom’ (III: 391). Two countries requested his services

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rousseau as a constitutionalist

principle of direct and indivisible democracy … there is the implication of dictatorship’ (46). There are, however, scholars who – with ample textual evidence – have pointed out that Rousseau’s positive concept of liberty, in general, and his theory of popular participation in particular, does not make him a Chap003.p65 49 11/09/03, 13:34 50 The political philosophy of Rousseau totalitarian (Leigh 1964).3 But it is as if his advocates, in their eagerness to defend him, trade in that very multiplicity of readings and meanings which have earned him a position in the

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

002.p65 19 11/09/03, 13:33 20 The political philosophy of Rousseau state? Where would we be without the progress of medical technologies and the tremendous advances in the sciences, which have led to electricity, the lap-top computer, MTV, the electric guitar, Viagra, Boeing 747s, the hedonistic pleasures of the welfare state and cellular phones? Have we ever had it so good? Brave new world! What more could we possibly want? The history of progress Certainly the sciences have made life easier in many respects. Yet it is as if there is a flaw in the heaven of

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Time-space, disciplines, margins

This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The spatial/temporal templates reveal how modern enticements and antinomies, far from being analytical abstractions, intimate instead ontological attributes and experiential dimensions of the worlds in which we live, and the spaces and times that we inhabit and articulate. Then, the book considers the oppositions and enchantments, the contradictions and contentions, and the identities and ambivalences spawned under modernity. At the same time, rather than approach such antinomies, enticements, and ambiguities as analytical errors or historical lacks, which await their correction or overcoming, it attempts to critically yet cautiously unfold these elements as constitutive of modern worlds. The book draws on social theory, political philosophy, and other scholarship in the critical humanities in order to make its claims concerning the mutual binds between everyday oppositions, routine enchantments, temporal ruptures, and spatial hierarchies of a modern provenance. Then, it turns to issues of identity and modernity. Finally, the book explores the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.

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The Global Public and Its Problems

This book argues that John Dewey should be read as a philosopher of globalization rather than as a 'local' American philosopher. Although Dewey's political philosophy was rooted in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America, it was more importantly about the role of America in a globalized world. The book highlights how Dewey's defence of democracy in the context of what he denotes as the Great Society leads him to confront the problems of globalization and global democracy. Then, it explores how Dewey's conception of creative democracy had global connotations. The book examines how Dewey problematized his own conception of democracy through arguing that the public within modern nation states was 'eclipsed' under the regime he called 'bourgeois democracy'. Then, it shifts the terrain of Dewey's global focus to ideas of global justice and equality. The book demonstrates that Dewey's idea of global democracy was linked with an idea of global equality, which would secure social intelligence on a global scale. It outlines the key Deweyan lessons about the problem of global democracy. The book shows how Dewey sets out an evolutionary form of global and national democracy in his work. Finally, it also outlines how Dewey believed liberal capitalism was unable to support social intelligence and needed replacing with a form of democratic socialism.