The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept

2015.09.27 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews James Farr and David Lay Williams (eds.), The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept, Cambridge University Press, 2015, 495pp.,
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2015.09.27 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews James Farr and David Lay Williams (eds.), The General Will: The Evolution of a Concept, Cambridge University Press, 2015, 495pp., $125.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781107057012. Reviewed by David James, University of Warwick This is a collection of essays whose importance is meant in large part to derive from the fact that the general will is a defining concept of modern political thought. We are today inclined to associate this concept most closely with Rousseau's appeal to the idea in the Social Contract. The book not surprisingly, therefore, takes Rousseau's theory of the general will as one of its main reference points. Another main reference point is Patrick Riley's attempt to show that the concept of the general will has theological roots in the writings of such seventeenth-century French philosophers as Arnauld, Pascal and Malebranche before it assumed a decisively political meaning in Rousseau's writings. The. . .

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