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Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies$
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Robert Wokler and Bryan Garsten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691147888

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691147888.001.0001

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Rouseau’s Two Concepts of Liberty

Rouseau’s Two Concepts of Liberty

(p.154) Chapter 10 Rouseau’s Two Concepts of Liberty
Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies

Robert Wokler

, Bryan Garsten

Christopher Brooke

Princeton University Press

In the history of political thought there is no more outspoken defender of freedom than Rousseau, no one who expressed a deeper regret over the liberty we have lost or a more profound longing for the liberty we should seek. However, the main charge leveled against him by his opponents has consistently been that the manipulative powers entrusted in his works to sovereign assemblies, legislators, and tutors alike deprive persons of the very liberty he claims they should enjoy. This chapter considers the objection to Rousseau's doctrine that the very concept acknowledged to lie at the heart of his philosophy in fact means the opposite of what he claims on its behalf—in effect, that his defense of liberty is illiberal. That charge of illiberalism is generally premised on the claim that Rousseau defined liberty falsely, and that the institutions he prescribed for its fulfillment in fact thwart or destroy it.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, political thought, freedom, liberty, liberalism

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