Routledge – 2005 – 252 pages
Series: The Routledge Philosophers
In this superb introduction, Nicholas Dent covers the whole of Rousseau's thought. Beginning with a helpful overview of Rousseau's life and works, he introduces and assesses Rousseau's central ideas and arguments. These include the corruption of modern civilization, the state of nature, his famous theories of amour de soi and amour propre, education, and his famous work Emile. He gives particular attention to Rousseau's theories of democracy and freedom found in his most celebrated work, The Social Contract, and explains what Rousseau meant by the 'general will'.
'An intelligent and clearly written introduction … It will be of great use to beginners who wish to orient themselves in the corpus of a writer who produced a large number of works of great diversity. It provides all the essential background information … those familiar with Rousseau will also read it with profit.' - Christopher Kelly, Boston College
'This is a very fine piece of work indeed. In fact, I think it is the best general introduction to Rousseau's life and thought in English and succeeds brilliantly in conveying Rousseau's ideas in a sympathetic yet critical manner. The work is well paced and accessible to the person who knows nothing about Rousseau but wants to find out, whilst still managing to be stimulating to the specialist. I would be very happy to recommend this work to students and to others.' - Chris Bertram, University of Bristol
Nicholas Dent is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Birmingham University, UK. He is a renowned commentator on Rousseau and the author of A Rousseau Dictionary (1992).