Rousseau Study Guide

1. What is Rousseau's vision of man in the state of nature?

2. How is this vision of man in nature different from Hobbes, Locke and Voltaire?

3. Which of Locke's natural rights is the root of evil according to Rousseau?

4. Did he believe in destroying society and returning to a natural state?

5. How does Rousseau's conception of the social contract differ from Locke's and Hobbes'?

6. What is peculiar about his notion of democracy and the general will?

7. What checks and balances are placed on the charismatic leader who believes that he can best  'interpret' the general will?

8. How might Rousseau's notion of the general will lead to a dictatorship?

9. How would Voltaire have criticized Rousseau's ideas?


The French Revolution

1. With what utopian expectations did the French Revolutionaries who overthrew the King come to power?

2. What liberties for the common man were assured in The Declarations of the Rights of Man?

3. When did the revolution descend into the terror? Why?

4. How did the Jacobins and Robesperre justify the mass executions that he ordered?

5. Describe how the war fought to defend the revolution was a new type of war.

6. How would the French Revolution give rise to modern natioanlism?