Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations

Rousseau: The Social Contract

'Portrait_of_Jean-Jacques_Rousseau'_by_François_GuérinThe Social Contract (French: Du Contrat Social) is a 1762 treatise by Jean Jacques Rousseau, outlining a theory of political rights based on unlimited popular sovereignty.

In contrast to Hobbes, Rousseau argues that is only in political society that human beings can be truly free. His suggestion that under circumstances people must be forced to be free has led some to see him as an authoritarian, although this has been challenged by those who stress his egalitarian republicanism. His undoubted role as a key intellectual influence on the French Revolution has given point to the controversy.

The Social Contract at online book stores

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Free online texts

Early Modern Texts: The Social Contract, adapted and translated into modern English, by Jonathan Bennett. PDF format.

Gutenberg: The Social Contract and Discourses, translated by G.D.H. Cole. EPUB, HTML, MOBI and TXT formats.

Internet Archive: A Treatise on the Social Compact. English translation. Multiple formats. Digitisation of a copy owned by John Adams.

Internet Archive: Montesquieu - The Spirit of the Laws, Rousseau - On the Origin of Inequality, On Political Economy, The Social Contract. Britannica Great Books of the Western World edition. EPUB, MOBI, PDF and TXT formats.

Online Library of Liberty: Ideal Empires and Republics. Rousseau’s Social Contract, More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Campanella’s City of the Sun, with an Introduction by Charles M. Andrews (1901). Multiple formats.

University of Adelaide (Internet Archive): The Social Contract. EPUB, HTML and MOBI formats.

Wikisource: French texts and English translation by George Douglas Howard Cole. HTML and other formats.

Audio Resources

BBC Radio 4 In Our Time: The Social Contract. Melvyn Bragg with Melissa Lane, Susan James and Karen O’Brien.

Librivox: The Social Contract. Public domain audiobook.

Philosophy - The Classics: Rousseau - Social Contract. Podcast with Nigel Warburton.

Other Resources

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Jean Jacques Rousseau

Wikipedia: Jean-Jacques Rousseau - The Social Contract

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

Rousseau: Discourse on Inequality

Plato: Crito

Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan - Rousseau had read Hobbes, although he rarely references him directly.

John Locke: Two Treatises on Government

French Language resources 


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