Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts

Your copies of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Basic Political Writings are available for pick-up at the front desk of Fox Leadership Hall (3814 Walnut Street).

Discussion Questions on Rousseau’s “Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts”

  1. What is Rousseau’s indictment of the Enlightenment? Is there something to his charge?
  2. According to Machiavelli, the prince has to deal with the situation he is presented with; if the times are corrupt, then a leader has to deal with that fact and adjust accordingly. What is Rousseau’s view of how a thinker should meet the state of society in the times one lives in?
  3. Rousseau remarks on the highly professionalized life of modern men: “We have physicists, geometers, chemists, astronomers, poets, musicians, painters; we no longer have citizens” (p. 21). What is he driving at in this distinction?

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