Discourse On the Origin of Inequality


The work is dedicated to the state of Geneva, Rousseau's birthplace. On the face of the dedication, he praises Geneva as a good, if not perfect, republic. The qualities he picks out for praise include the stability of its laws and institutions, the community spirit of its inhabitants, and its good relations with neighboring states, neither threatening them nor threatened by them, and the well-behaved women of Geneva. However, this is not how Geneva truly was. This is the type of regime Rousseau wished for. The epistle dedicatory is a highly ironic and idealized version of the Geneva Rousseau really wanted. Also, his description is in great contrast with Paris, where he had spent many years previous to writing this discourse, and which he had left bitterly. Thus, his description of Geneva is in part a statement against Paris.

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