Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

By Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Patrick Coleman et al. | Go to book overview

EXPLANATORY NOTES

3 Sovereign Lords: the formal title given to the members of Geneva's Conseil Général, composed of all the republic's citizens (about 1,500 men out of a total population of roughly 20,000). In dedicating his book to the republic, Rousseau addresses himself to them and not to the magistrates of the Petit Conseil, referred to below as 'Magnificent and Most Honoured Lords', who wielded effective power in the city. After composing the Discourse, Rousseau won reinstatement of his own citizenship, which he had lost after a youthful conversion to Catholicism in Turin.

5 mists of time: a partially autonomous bishopric in the Middle Ages, Geneva became a Protestant republic during the Reformation.

7 recognized: by the Treaty of Turin in 1754.

9 virtuous citizen: Isaac Rousseau ( 1672- 1747), A watchmaker. In 1722 he exiled himself to neighbouring Nyon after a quarrel that brought him trouble with Geneva's authorities. Rousseau, whose mother Suzanne Bernard ( 1673- 1712.) had died giving birth to him, was left in the care of his uncle.

10 inhabitants: resident aliens in Geneva, without rights of citizenship.

unfortunate events: tension between the ruling patrician families and citizens who wanted the General Council to exercise more effective power had erupted into serious conflict in 1737. An Edict of Mediation, brokered by France the following year, reaffirmed the Petit Conseil's control over legislative initiative.

11 destiny: Genevan women were not themselves citizens and were excluded from political participation.

14 Delphi: 'Know Thyself'.

Glaucus: Plato, Republic, 10. 611.

16 Burlamaqui: Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui ( 1694- 1748), prominent Genevan exponent of natural rights theories, to whose Principes du droit naturel ( Geneva, 1747) Rousseau refers (ch. 1, § 2).

-121-

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Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • NOTE ON THE TEXT xxxi
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY xxxii
  • A Chronology og Jean-Jacques Rousseau xxxiv
  • To the Republic of Geneva Magnificent, Most Honoured, and Sovereign Lords: 3
  • Preface 14
  • REMARK ABOUT THE NOTES 20
  • Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men 23
  • PART I 26
  • Notes 55
  • PART II 86
  • EXPLANATORY NOTES 121
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