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The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The Social Contract

by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Title Details

Unabridged Edition
Running Time
4 Hrs. 46 Min.
Written in 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract gave passionate voice to a moment in world history that saw the balance of power shift away from monarchy towards the rights of the individual. Stripping the question of government down to its essence, Rousseau begins by asking if it's even possible for a group of people to govern themselves fairly. He uses examples from nature to argue that it may just be that man was never meant to work together in this way, citing the horrible state of European politics that he saw around him at the time. His solution is a two-part division of power based on the will of the people that the reader quickly realizes had a direct influence on the subsequent revolutions that rocked America and France beginning in the 1770's. Librivox's recording of this classic in political philosophy offers a good translation and wonderful performance emphasizing the righteous anger that fuels the entire text. For a good followup, we also recommend listening to Thomas Paine's Common Sense to see how Rousseau's ideas were directly applied during the American Revolution.

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