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5. Rousseau: Popular Sovereignty and General Will

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Uploaded on Mar 4, 2011

Foundations of Modern Social Thought (SOCY 151)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau had a colorful early life. Orphaned at ten, he moved in with a woman ten years his senior at sixteen. Their probable love affair is the subject of Stendhal's book Le Rouge et la Noir. Rousseau was friends and sometimes enemies with many major figures in the French Enlightenment. Although he did not live to see the French Revolution, many of Rousseau's path-breaking and controversial ideas about universal suffrage, the general will, consent of the governed, and the need for a popularly elected legislature unquestionably shaped the Revolution. The general will, the idea that the interest of the collective must sometimes have precedence over individual will, is a complex idea in social and political thought; it has proven both fruitful and dangerous. Rousseau's ideas have been respected and used by both liberals and repressive Communist and totalitarian leaders.

00:00 - Chapter 1. Rousseau in a Historical Context
15:10 - Chapter 2. Major Works and Lasting Legacy
26:06 - Chapter 3. "The Social Contract": Major Themes
31:22 - Chapter 4. Book I: Legitimate Rule, Diluted Justice, Popular Sovereignty
37:43 - Chapter 5. Book II: General Will, Law and the Lawgivers

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

This course was recorded in Fall 2009.

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