Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Abstract” and “Judgment” of Saint-Pierre’s Project for Perpetual Peace in Europe (1761, 1782)

A word should be said about Rousseau’s place among the various schools of international relations theory. Because he wrote so little about international relations directly and because his one published work on the subject is so ambiguous, his views defy simple categorization. His approval of the goal of perpetual peace and dissatisfaction with the continuation of the state of nature among nations would suggest that he belongs among the modern idealists. Yet he evinces none of the modern idealists’ confidence that this goal would be achieved or dissatisfaction remedied. Here, as in other areas of his thought, Rousseau offers much more of a diagnosis of the modern condition than a cure for it.

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