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Rousseau and the Revival of Humanism in Contemporary French Political Thought

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The article examines the surprising role of Rousseau in the revival of liberal and humanist thought in contemporary French political thought. The choice of Rousseau as an inspiration and source of humanism is an illuminating indication of a shift in French thought. The authors concentrate on the natural- rights republicanism of Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut and the critical humanism of Tzvetan Todorov. While these thinkers all appeal to Rousseau's definition of humanity in terms of freedom, they draw on different aspects of his thought and his relationship to the philosophic tradition. Their different receptions of Rousseau reveal tensions in the humanist revival and provoke reflection on the relationships among republicanism, liberalism and humanism in contemporary France.

Keywords: Humanism; Rousseau; contemporary political thought; liberalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dept of Political Science, University of California, Davis CA 95616, USA, Email: 2: , Email:

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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