Social Contract

Social Contract

Penguin Classics
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Maurice Cranston (Translator)
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Trade Paperback, 188 pages
Price: $11.00

"Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains."

These are the famous opening words of a treatise that rejects the view that anyone has a natural right to wield authority over others, and instead argues for a pact, or "social contract" that should exist between all citizens of a state and that should be the source of sovereign power. From this fundamental premise, the writer goes on until he arrives at a view of society that has seemed to advocate both totalitarianism and democratic principles.

Revolutionary in its own time and controversial even to this day, this work is a classic of political theory and a key source of democratic belief. This edition includes Rousseau's Discourse on Political Economy, a key transitional work between his Discourse on Inequality and the Social Contract, and features a comprehensive introduction and notes.

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FLAWS: Enlightenment rationalism
Summary: The philosophical treatise that contributed to both the French and American Revolutions by arguing that the right to rule is based on social agreement rather than divine prerogative.

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