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Discourse on the Origin of Inequality by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

Part of the Oxford World's Classics Series


Discourse on the Origin of Inequality by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In his Discourses (1755), Rousseau argues that inequalities of rank, wealth, and power are the inevitable result of the civilizing process. If inequality is intolerable - and Rousseau shows with unparalledled eloquence how it robs us not only of our material but also of our psychological independence - then how can we recover the peaceful self-sufficiency of life in the state of nature? We cannot return to a simpler time, but measuring the costs of progress may help us to imagine alternatives to the corruption and oppressive conformity of modern society. Rousseau's sweeping account of humanity's social and political development epitomizes the innovative boldness of the Englightment, and it is one of the most provocative and influential works of the eighteenth century. This new translation includes all Rousseau's own notes, and Patrick Coleman's introduction builds on recent key scholarship, considering particularly the relationship between political and aesthetic thought. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

About the Author

Franklin Philip is the prize-winning translator of numerous French texts. Patrick Coleman is the author of Rousseau's Political Imagination (1984).

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Book Info

Publication date

23rd April 2009


Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Oxford University Press


176 pages


Western philosophy: c 1600 to c 1900
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800
Political science & theory



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