Jean-Jacques rousseau’s concept of people

Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (4):393-412 (2004)
s political theory apparently leads us to choose between patriotism and cosmopolitism. The two major works published in 1762, On the Social Contract and Emile , would represent the two sides of the alternative. However, the opposition between patriotism and cosmopolitism is the ultimate development of an internal tension between two aspects of Rousseau’s political concept of people: the intersubjectivity that permits the formation of the general will; and the individual’s devotion to the state. On the one hand, the political community appears as a distributive totality. On the other hand, it is viewed as a collective totality. When generalized, intersubjectivity leads to the formation of both the social concept of people and the moral concept of humanity, while patriotism requires the individual’s loyalty to the nation. In order to maintain the coherence of the very political concept of people and to solve the main political problem - which is to reconcile security and liberty - it is necessary to overcome the dichotomy between cosmopolitism and patriotism. Emile and Rousseau’s original plan for On the Social Contract are consistent on that point. Key Words: cosmopolitism • general will • intersubjectivity • nation • patriotism • people.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453704044025
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