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Political Philosophy and the Challenge of Revealed Religion$
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Heinrich Meier

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226275857

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226275994.001.0001

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The Right of Politics and the Knowledge of the Philosopher: On the Intention of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Du contrat social

The Right of Politics and the Knowledge of the Philosopher: On the Intention of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Du contrat social

Chapter:
(p.115) Chapter Three The Right of Politics and the Knowledge of the Philosopher: On the Intention of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Du contrat social (p.116)
Source:
Political Philosophy and the Challenge of Revealed Religion
Author(s):

Heinrich Meier

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226275994.003.0003

This chapter examines Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Du contrat social. By a precise explanation of the argument and the structure of writing, it is shown that Rousseau's most famous work cannot be adequately understood as long as it is not understood as a coherent political-philosophic response to the conception of theocracy in all of its manifestations. Contrat social opposes the sovereignty of the people to the sovereignty of God. Just as various forms of government are compatible with the republic, i.e., with the sovereignty of the people, theocracy—the appeal to the sovereignty of God—can also lead to various regimes. The Contrat social stands in opposition to each of them, from the monarchy of the divine right of kings to the hierocracy of the religion of the priest, by grounding society on a convention of natural beings, and by insisting upon the right of politics over against the authority of revelation.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, social contract, theocracy, sovereignty, political right

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