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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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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
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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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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

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
Republicanism and the basic law

Recent years have witnessed a revived interest in civic republicanism in Ireland, in tandem with a growing consciousness of republican ideas across the English-speaking world. Yet while republicanism is posited as a catch-all public philosophy and as a framework for political reform in Ireland and elsewhere, its content remains highly ambiguous and contested. Its implications for constitutional structure and constitutional theory are the subject of wide debate in both legal and political thought.

In this book, Eoin Daly and Tom Hickey consider republican themes in the Irish constitutional tradition. While the Irish Constitution has been understood as oscillating between a liberal concern for individual freedoms against the state and a communitarian concern for promoting a shared identity, the authors argue that many of its central features and devices can be interpreted in a distinctively republican light – and specifically, as providing a framework for participation in self-government. They consider how institutions and concepts such as popular sovereignty, constitutional rights, parliamentary government and judicial review might be re-interpreted in light of the republican themes of civic virtue and freedom as non-domination.

A history of the drink question in England

Questions about drink — how it is used, how it should be regulated, and the social risks it presents — have been a source of sustained and heated dispute in recent years. This book puts these concerns in historical context by providing a detailed and extensive survey of public debates on alcohol from the introduction of licensing in the mid-sixteenth century through to recent controversies over 24-hour licensing, binge drinking, and the cheap sale of alcohol in supermarkets. In doing so, it shows that concerns over drinking have always been tied to broader questions about national identity, individual freedom, and the relationship between government and the market. The book argues that in order to properly understand the cultural status of alcohol, we need to consider what attitudes to drinking tell us about the principles that underpin our modern, liberal society. It presents a wide-ranging guide to the social, political, and cultural history of alcohol in England, covering areas including law, public policy, medical thought, media representations, and political philosophy.