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ENLIGHTENED 'SAVAGES': ROUSSEAU'S SOCIAL CONTRACT AND THE 'BRAVE PEOPLE' OF CORSICA

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In the Social Contract Jean-Jacques Rousseau identifies Corsica as the last place in Europe capable of receiving his political proposals. To understand why this may be, this paper examines the historical and intellectual relationship between Rousseau's thought, enlightened European society and Corsica in the eighteenth century. In doing this it identifies what was unique about the island, noting the perceived 'savagery' of its people, and thus their capability to be given Rousseau's laws. It then examines how proposals from Rousseau's Constitutional Project for Corsica relate to the Social Contract, noting that the historical particularities of Corsica allow for further understanding of the proposals in the latter text.

Keywords: Corsica; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Pasquale Paoli; Social Contract; commerce; constitutions; democracy; eighteenth century; enlightenment; human nature; lawgiver; legislator; political foundling; religion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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