Synopses & Reviews
The most influential of Rousseau's writings, the "Second Discourse" set forth a theory of human evolution that prefigured the discoveries of Darwin, revolutionized the study of anthropology and linguistics, and made a seminal contribution to political and social thought--leading to both the French Revolution and the birth of social science.
In A Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau sets out to demonstrate how the growth of civilization corrupts man's natural happiness and freedom by creating artificial inequalities of wealth, power and social privilege. Contending that primitive man was equal to his fellows, Rousseau believed that as societies become more sophisticated, the strongest and most intelligent members of the community gain an unnatural advantage over their weaker brethren, and that constitutions set up to rectify these imbalances through peace and justice in fact do nothing but perpetuate them. Rousseau's political and social arguments in the Discourse were a hugely influential denunciation of the social conditions of his time and one of the most revolutionary documents of the eighteenth-century.
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In this text, Rousseau demonstrates how the growth of civilization corrupts man's natural happiness and freedom due to the artificial inequalities of wealth and social privilege.
New edition, with an introduction by a leading Rousseau scholar.
Table of Contents
A Discourse on Inequality Foreword
Discourse on the Origins and Foundations of Inequality among Men
Abbreviations used in Editor's Introduction and Notes