Rousseau and Hobbes: Nature, Free Will, and the Passions

Hardcover | March 12, 2015

byRobin Douglass

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Robin Douglass presents the first comprehensive study of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's engagement with Thomas Hobbes. He reconstructs the intellectual context of this engagement to reveal the deeply polemical character of Rousseau's critique of Hobbes and to show how Rousseau sought to expose thatmuch modern natural law and doux commerce theory was, despite its protestations to the contrary, indebted to a Hobbesian account of human nature and the origins of society. Throughout the book Douglass explores the reasons why Rousseau both followed and departed from Hobbes in different places, while resisting the temptation to present him as either a straightforwardly Hobbesian or anti-Hobbesian thinker. On the one hand, Douglass reveals the extent to which Rousseauwas occupied with problems of a fundamentally Hobbesian nature and the importance, to both thinkers, of appealing to the citizens' passions in order to secure political unity. On the other hand, Douglass argues that certain ideas at the heart of Rousseau's philosophy - free will and the naturalgoodness of man - were set out to distance him from positions associated with Hobbes. Douglass advances an original interpretation of Rousseau's political philosophy, emerging from this encounter with Hobbesian ideas, which focuses on the interrelated themes of nature, free will, and the passions.Douglass distances his interpretation from those who have read Rousseau as a proto-Kantian and instead argues that his vision of a well-ordered republic was based on cultivating man's naturally good passions to render the life of the virtuous citizen in accordance with nature.

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Robin Douglass presents the first comprehensive study of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's engagement with Thomas Hobbes. He reconstructs the intellectual context of this engagement to reveal the deeply polemical character of Rousseau's critique of Hobbes and to show how Rousseau sought to expose thatmuch modern natural law and doux commerce the...

Robin Douglass is Lecturer in Political Theory in the Department of Political Economy, King's College London. Before arriving at King's, he studied at the Universities of York and Exeter. His research focuses on seventeenth and eighteenth-century political philosophy, and he has recently published articles in the American Journal of P...
Format:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.85 inPublished:March 12, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198724969

ISBN - 13:9780198724964

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The French reception of Thomas Hobbes2. The state of nature and the nature of man3. Sovereignty and law4. Ordering the passionsReview and conclusionBibliographyIndex