A fresh interpretation of Rousseau's theory of international conflict

Reading Rousseau in the Nuclear Age

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Grace G. Roosevelt

"A solid contribution to Rousseau studies. It has the special merit of carefully and thoroughly analyzing several important writings of Rousseau on war and on international relations."
Hilail Gildin, Queens College, C.U.N.Y.

For more than two centuries, the political writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau have helped shape many different responses to historical experience. While todayís readers are aware of Rousseauís contemporary significance, his writings on war and peace have been almost completely ignored. This book offers a fresh interpretation of two of Rousseauís little-known works: his unfinished "The State of War" and his summary and critique of the Abbe de Saint-Pierreís Project for Perpetual Peace. Starting with an account of her discovery of the original page sequence of Rousseauís manuscript on "The State of War," Grace G. Roosevelt explores his theory of international conflict and explains his alternative approaches to the problem of securing peace. She brings out the important connections between Rousseauís theory of international politics and his principles of education, arguing throughout for the continuing relevance of his ideas.

Rooseveltís main contention is that, when studied in relation to his works on politics and education, Rousseauís writings on war and peace provide the modern reader with a realistic analysis of the war system and a normative vision of the possibilities for peace. In discussing his principles of education, Roosevelt suggests that Rousseauís writings challenge us to confront the question of whether educational systems should aim to create citizens of a particular state or citizens of the world.

The book includes full translations, by the author, of Rousseauís unpublished manuscript on "The State of War" and of his forty-page "Summary" and "Critique" of the Project for Perpetual Peace.


About the Author(s)

Grace G. Roosevelt is Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Humanities in the General Studies Program at New York University.

Subject Categories

Philosophy and Ethics



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