Patrick Riley traces the forgotten roots of Rousseau's concept to seventeenth-century questions about the justice of God. If He wills that all men be saved, does He have a general will that produces universal salvation? And, if He does not, why does He will particularly" that some men be damned? The theological origin of the "general will" was important to Rousseau himself. He uses the language of divinity bequeathed to him by Pascal, Malebranche, Fenelon, and others to dignify, to elevate, and to "save" politics.
Originally published in 1988.
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