Rousseau on International Relations

By Stanley Hoffmann; David P. Fidler et al. | Go to book overview
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Introduction

I

The thinking of Jean-Jacques Rousseau has for over two centuries provided fertile material for the study of human nature and its political manifestations. Countless individuals have searched Rousseau's writings in efforts to illuminate or propagate the ideas he unleashed on the world. This book partakes of the riches of Rousseau's political thought, but it seeks to draw attention to an aspect of Rousseau's thinking that historically has been neglected and misunderstood: his perspective on international relations.

This book brings together for the first time English translations of the major writings in which Rousseau develops his original and disturbing analysis of international politics. The purpose is to provide students and researchers with a substantial resource for the study of Rousseau's ideas about international relations. Such a resource is long overdue, and it is our hope that it will become a means for students of political theory and international relations to appreciate and ponder the timeless challenge of Rousseau's perspective on international relations.

In this Introduction, we will outline Rousseau's thinking on international relations as it develops in the selections in this volume, analyse Rousseau's perspective on international relations as part of his overall political thought, evaluate the answers he gives to the problems of war and peace, and consider Rousseau's international thought against contemporary international-relations theory and practice.

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