THE SOCIAL CONTRACT
In Our Time (BBC)
Host: Melvyn Bragg
"Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains."
Thus begins Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s great work of political philosophy, The Social Contract. Rousseau was trying to understand why a man would give up his natural freedoms and bind himself to the rule of a prince or a government. It is among the oldest questions in political philosophy, but it flourished particularly in the 17th and 18th centuries as France and Britain were racked by civil strife and revolution – what another great social contract thinker, Thomas Hobbes, might call the war of all against all.
Melissa Lane, Senior University Lecturer in History at Cambridge University
Susan James, Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London
Karen O’Brien, Professor of English Literature at the University of Warwick
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