Perfection and Disharmony in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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9780521850698: Perfection and Disharmony in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In Perfection and Disharmony in the Thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jonathan Marks offers a new intepretation of the philosopher's thought and its place in the contemporary debate between liberals and communitarians. Against prevailing views, he argues that Rousseau's thought revolves around the natural perfection of a naturally disharmonious being. At the foundation of Rousseau's thought he finds a natural teleology that takes account of and seeks to harmonize conflicting ends. The Rousseau who emerges from this interpretation is a radical critic of liberalism who is nontheless more cautious about protecting individual freedom that his milder communitarian successors. Marks elaborates on the challenge that Rousseau poses to liberals and communitarians alike by setting up a dialogue between him and Charles Taylor, one of the most distinquished ethical and political theorists at work today.

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In this 2005 book, Jonathan Marks offers a new interpretation of the philosopher's thought and its place in the contemporary debate between liberals and communitarians. At the foundation of Rousseau's thought he finds a natural teleology that takes account of and seeks to harmonize conflicting ends.

Review:

"This assessment is thorough and exceptionally fair-minded in its discussion of other interpreters of Rousseau. Marks recovers an analysis of liberalism's problems that is more radical and yet more balanced than modern communitarian approaches." -
--James H. Nichols, Jr. Claremont McKenna College

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