The Social Contract (Penguin Classics), Paperback Book

The Social Contract (Penguin Classics) Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


'Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains'These are the famous opening words of a treatise that has not ceased to stir vigorous debate since its first publication in 1762.

Rejecting the view that anyone has a natural right to wield authority over others, Rousseau argues instead for a pact, or 'social contract', that should exist between all the citizens of a state and that should be the source of sovereign power.

From this fundamental premise, he goes on to consider issues of liberty and law, freedom and justice, arriving at a view of society that has seemed to some a blueprint for totalitarianism, to others a declaration of democratic principles.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of Western philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780140442014



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

The Social Contract is Jean-Jacques Rousseau's seminal work. He takes on the question of the state, government, and man's desire to be free under these conditions. Although Rousseau speaks quite too favorably of Rome and Sparta when justifying his main points, he nevertheless provides a provocative case for the use of the State, it's laws, and it's authority. However his flaws lie in his assurance of top-down government, and lack of faith in true democracy. He accuses direct democracy as incredibly paralyzing, and inefficient, which is true when applied in the context of mercantile, pre-modern conditions. “You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.”

Review by

Rousseau is the man.