Rousseau on Inequality

Voltaire (L) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (R) in an imaginative landscape (c.1790s illustration)

In his famous On the Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote that ‘man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” In saying this, Rousseau was not only critiquing the Old Regime in France (preparing a groundwork for his political theory), he was also building on the work of his first two discourses: Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750) and Discourse on Inequality (1755). While Rousseau is most famous for the political theory outlined…

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