Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the 'Well-Ordered Society'

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 13, 2003 - History - 256 pages
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This book studies a central but hitherto neglected aspect of Rousseau's political thought: the concept of social order and its implications for the ideal society which he envisages. The antithesis between order and disorder is a fundamental theme in Rousseau's work, and the author takes it as the basis for this study. In contrast with a widely held interpretation of Rousseau's philosophy, Professor Viroli argues that natural and political order are by no means the same for Rousseau. He explores the differences and interrelations between the different types of order which Rousseau describes, and shows how the philosopher constructed his final doctrine of the just society, which can be based only on every citizen's voluntary and knowing acceptance of the social contract and on the promotion of virtue above ambition. The author also shows the extent of Rousseau's debt to the republican tradition, and above all to Machiavelli, and revises the image of Rousseau as a disciple of the natural-law school.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Images of order between nature and the artificial
15
The knowledge and love of order
17
Natural order and artificial disorder
24
The wellordered society
37
The necessity of artifice
46
Disorder and inequality
53
Natural inequalities and artificial inequalities
64
Inequality and conflict
87
Political order
107
Utility and justice
118
Liberty and the republic
148
Republican order
187
The dissolution of the republic
211
Bibliography
230
Index
246

Difference and inequality
68
The price of things and the value of men
76

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About the author (2003)

Maurizio Viroli is the author of numerous works in political theory and of a study of Machiavelli's political philosophy. A professor of politics at Princeton University, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and Forli, Italy.

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