On the Social Contract

Recommended Translation: On the Social Contract, with Geneva Manuscript and Political Economy; ed. by Roger D. Masters, trans by Judith R. Masters (New York and Boston: St. Martin's Press, 1978).  

The democratic and revolutionary principles put forward in Rousseau’s Social Contract have made it one of the essential texts of political philosophy since its publication in 1762. With this work, Rousseau’s sought to determine how civil society could both ensure the… More

Reveries of a Solitary Walker

Recommended translation: The Reveries of the Solitary Walker, ed. and trans by Charles E. Butterworth (Indianapolis:Hackett Publishing Co., 1992). Originally published in 1782.

Like the Confessions, the Reveries of a Solitary Walker is an autobiographical work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Published posthumously in 1782, the Reveries is a collection of ten books, or “walks,” that describe Rousseau’s wanderings around Paris during the solitary end of his life.… More


Recommended translation: Confessions, in The Confessions and Correspondence, Including the Letters to Malesherbes, The Collected Writings of Rousseau, vol 5. ed. by Christopher Kelly, Roger D. Masters, and Peter Stillman; trans. by Christopher Kelly (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England at Dartmouth College ,1995), 1-550.

Published four years after Rousseau’s death in 1789, the Confessions was an autobiographical account of the first fifty-three years of the philosopher’s life. Rousseau declared that the work was groundbreaking with its opening line, “I have resolved on an enterprise… More


Recommended translation: Emile or On Education, ed. and trans. by Alan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1979). Originally published in 1762.

Published in 1762, Emile, or On Education, outlined a process of education that would prevent man from being corrupted by society and instead nurture his natural virtues and goodness. Part-treatise, part-novel, the work recounts the life of a fictional character named Emile,… More

Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (First Discourse)

Recommended Translation: ‘First Discourse,’ in Rousseau: The Discourses and other early political writings, ed. and trans. by Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 1-28.  

In 1750, Rousseau’s First Discourse, or the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, won an essay contest held by the Academy of Dijon on the topic of, “Whether the restoration of the sciences and arts tended to purify morals?” Rousseau argued that progress in the arts and… More

Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (Second Discourse)

Recommended translation: Second Discourse, in Rousseau: The Discourses and other early political writings, ed. and trans. by Victor Gourevitch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 111-222. First published in 1754.

Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, also referred to as the Second Discourse, was published in 1755 in response to an essay competition held by the Academy of Dijon on the question of what was the “the origin of inequality among men” and whether such inequality was… More

Julie, or The New Heloise

Julie, Or, The New Heloise: Letters of Two Lovers Who Live in a Small Town at the Foot of the Alps, translated and edited by Philip Stewart and Jean Vaché, University Press of New England, 1997. First published in 1761.

From the publisher: Rousseau’s great epistolary novel, Julie, or the New Heloise, has been virtually unavailable in English since 1810. In it, Rousseau reconceptualized the relationship of the individual to the collective and articulated a new moral paradigm. The story follows the… More