ROUSSEAU'S AUTHORIAL VOICES: IN HIS DEDICATION OF HIS DISCOURSE ON INEQUALITY TO THE REPUBLIC OF GENEVA

Author: Sorenson, Leonard

Source: History of Political Thought, Volume 30, Number 3, 2009 , pp. 469-4491(4023)

Publisher: Imprint Academic

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Abstract:

Most scholars of Rousseau's political philosophy pay their perfunctory respects to his Dedication of his Discourse on Inequality to The Republic of Geneva in pursuit of his teaching in his Social Contract. Some others focus on the Dedication in order to explore the complicated relation between actual Genevan ways and Rousseau's substantive picture of Geneva. Recently, Rosenblatt has authoritatively established the crucial importance of the Dedication in this regard by a thorough investigation of its concrete historical context (1997). However, this important contribution abstracts from the dramatic form or context in which Rousseau himself places the Dedication. A few scholars, for instance Masters and Palmer, have correctly concluded that the dramatic form, even more than the historical context, informs the substantive content of the Dedication. Yet, the depth and complexity of the drama -- characters as well as settings -- that informs the substantive teaching of the Dedication remains largely unexplored. As is shown in this article, the dramatic context of the Dedication crucially informs its substantive content -- as well as that of the Social Contract -- and the conclusion to be drawn is that the Dedication constitutes Rousseau's introduction to his whole corpus as informed by political philosophy.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Assumption College, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609, USA., Email: lsorenso@assumption.edu

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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