Order, harmony, and the general will
Warner, John Martin
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Rousseau’s conception of nature often seems altogether disconnected from his political philosophy. Where the former s erves as the central motif in Rousseau’s general philosophical outlook, the latter is a juridical doctrine that appears to operate outside his comprehensive theoretical framework. This essay, however, seeks to demonstrate the opposite conclusion. Far from being independent of it, Rousseau’s political philosophy depends decisively upon his conception of nature. My argument proceeds by way of three claims. First, I seek to explain Rousseau’s conception of human nature, and to demonstrate how it gives rise to the possibilities that his political philosophy explores. Second, I link the critical and constructive elements of Rousseau’s work and make the case for “post -state of nature naturalness,” arguing that the teleological aspects of Rousseau’s conception of nature have important implications for his political philosophy. Finally, I make an explicit case for a “politics of nature,” connecting Rousseau’s political prescriptions to his conception of nature in concrete ways.