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In this new interpretation of Rousseau's political thought, Daniel E. Cullen demonstrates that the concept of freedom is fundamental to the complex unity of Rousseau's work. He shows that the pervasive tension in Rousseau's thought between freedom and order, legitimacy and reliability can be explained as an effort to attune the political to the natural condition and to reestablish a condition of independence in political and social circumstances. Cullen's argument bears important implications for those who currently seek to bolster the case for participatory democracy by appealing to Rousseauian assumptions and conclusions.
Cullen's aim is to clarify some of the issues that divide liberals from communitarians and constitutionalists from participatory democrats in the current debate about freedom, rights, morality, and politics in America. In affirming Rousseau's fundamental philosophical agreement with liberals concerning human nature and with conservatives concerning the character of a good society, Cullen suggests that Rousseau has offered perhaps the only possible theoretical resolution of the tension implicit in democratic freedom. In light of what Rousseau calls for in order to bring about this resolution, however, Cullen wonders whether the time has come to rethink fundamental questions about human nature and citizenship that underlie contemporary problems of political theory.
Freedom in Rousseau's Political Philosophy will be of interest to scholars and students of the history of political thought and contemporary democratic theory.
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Daniel E. Cullen has taught at Acadia University in Canada and Vanderbilt University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.
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