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Rousseau and the Collectivist Concept of Freedom

George Walsh

Presented at: PI Toronto 1986

Date: Oct 18, 1986

In these lectures, Dr. Walsh will discuss the vital historical importance of Rousseau as the thinker mainly responsible for preventing the "Anglo-Saxon" concept of freedom in its Lockean form from taking root on the continent of Europe. In place of the Lockean concept, Rouseau substituted another one worked out with incredible sublety and often using the same terms, with the result that many European advocates of freedom were led to think he was an improvement on Locke. Rousseau's ideas were carried into Germany and exercised considerable influence on Kant and the early German nationalists. Eventually they emerged in the "German" concept of freedom which lay at the basis of Marxism, fascism and welfare-statism. The emphasis in the lectures will be on the logical structure of Rousseau's political philosophy as developed in the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Social Contract, but this structure itself will be explained in such a way that its historical impact will be clear.


Parts: 2

Handout: none


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