The social contract & discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1923 Free PDF book

Download The social contract and discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1923 Free PDF book

fOR the study of the great writers and thinkers of the past, historical imagination is the first necessity. Without mentally referring to the environment in which they lived, we cannot hope to penetrate below the inessential and temporary to the absolute and permanent value of their thought. Theory, no less than action, is subject to these necessities; the form in which men cast their speculations, no less than the ways in which they behave, are the result of the habits of thought and action which they find around them. Great men make, indeed, individual contributions to the knowledge of their times; but they can never transcend the age in which they live. T

he questions they try to answer will always be those *heir contemporaries are asking; their statement of fundamental problems will always be relative to the traditional statements that have been handed down to them. When they are stating what is most startlingly new, they will be most likely to put it in an old-fashioned form, and to use the inadequate ideas and formulae of tradition to express the deeper truths towards which they are feeling their way. They will be most the children of their age when they are rising most above it.

Rousseau has suffered as much as anyone from critics without a sense of history. He has been cried up and cried down by democrats and oppressors with an equal lack of understand ing and imagination. His name, a hundred and fifty years after the publication of the Social Contract, is still a controversial watchword and a party cry.

 He is accepted as one of the greatest writers France has produced; but even now men are inclined, as political bias prompts them, to accept or reject his political doctrines as a whole, without sifting them or attempting to understand and discriminate. He is still revered or hated as the author who, above all others, inspired the French Revolution.

At the present day, his works possess a double significance. They are important historically, alike as giving us an insight into the mind of the eighteenth century, and for the actual influence, they have had on the course of events in Europe.

Certainly, no other writer of the time has exercised such an influence as his. He may fairly be called the parent of the romantic movement in art, letters, and life; he affected profoundly the German romantics and Goethe himself; he set the fashion of a new introspection which has permeated nineteenth-century literature; he began modern educational theory; and, above all, in political thought, he represents the passage from a traditional theory rooted in the Middle Ages to the modern philosophy of the State. His influence on Kant s moral philosophy and on Hegel s philosophy of Right are two sides of the same fundamental contribution to" modern thought. He is, in fact, the great forerunner of German and English Idealism.

Author: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
 Publication Date:1921
Translated by Cole, G. D. H.

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