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FREEDOM, EQUALITY AND CONFLICT: ROUSSEAU ON MACHIAVELLI

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Rousseau's praise for Machiavelli in the Social Contract goes along with his condemnation of partial association and political conflicts. Yet Machiavelli builds his theory precisely around the idea of the constructive role of conflicts, seeing the irreducible multiplicity of the many as the source of a positive conflictuality. Is the ontological primacy of Rousseau's singularity in the general will compatible with the political primacy of Machiavelli's conflictual multiplicity? By exploring Rousseau's strategy in his use of Machiavelli, this article argues that the key to interpreting the ambiguities of Rousseau's reading lies in the evaluation of the differences in the relationship between multiplicity and singularity in both authors. While the people produces an immanent and conflictualistic ground for power in Machiavelli, in Rousseau it is subjected to a transcendent process of ontological submission to the general will.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-01-01

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