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Letter to Beaumont, Letters Written from the Mountain, and Related Writings

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Publication Year: 2013

Published between 1762 and 1765, these writings are the last works Rousseau wrote for publication during his lifetime. Responding in each to the censorship and burning of Emile and Social Contract, Rousseau airs his views on censorship, religion, and the relation between theory and practice in politics.

The Letter to Beaumont is a response to a Pastoral Letter by Christophe de Beaumont, Archbishop of Paris (also included in this volume), which attacks the religious teaching in Emile. Rousseau's response concerns the general theme of the relation between reason and revelation and contains his most explicit and boldest discussions of the Christian doctrines of creation, miracles, and original sin.

In Letters Written from the Mountain, a response to the political crisis in Rousseau's homeland of Geneva caused by a dispute over the burning of his works, Rousseau extends his discussion of Christianity and shows how the political principles of the Social Contract can be applied to a concrete constitutional crisis. One of his most important statements on the relation between political philosophy and political practice, it is accompanied by a fragmentary "History of the Government of Geneva."

Finally, "Vision of Peter of the Mountain, Called the Seer" is a humorous response to a resident of Motiers who had been inciting attacks on Rousseau during his exile there. Taking the form of a scriptural account of a vision, it is one of the rare examples of satire from Rousseau's pen and the only work he published anonymously after his decision in the early 1750s to put his name on all his published works. Within its satirical form, the "Vision" contains Rousseau's last public reflections on religious issues.

Neither the Letter to Beaumont nor the Letters Written from the Mountain has been translated into English since defective translations that appeared shortly after their appearance in French. These are the first translations of both the "History" and the "Vision."

Published by: Dartmouth College Press

Series: Collected Writings of Rousseau


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Although Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a significant Wgure in the Western tradition, there is no standard edition of his major writings available in English. Moreover, unlike those of other thinkers of comparable stature, many of Rousseau’s important works have never been translated or have become unavailable...

Chronology of Works in Volume 9

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pp. ix-x

Note on the Text

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pp. xi-13

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pp. xiii-xxviii

In a sense the works contained in this volume, all of which were written between the end of 1762 and the middle of 1765, represent the conclusion of Rousseau’s career as an author. Although he went on to write his three great autobiographical works (the Confessions, Dialogues, and Reveries) as...

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pp. 1-16

Christophe de Beaumont, by Divine Mercy and by the grace of the Holy Apostolic See, Archbishop of Paris, Duke of Saint-Cloud, Peer of France, Commander of the Order of the Holy Spirit, Patron of the Sorbonne, etc; to all the Faithful of our Diocese, salutation and blessing....

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pp. 17-83

Yet I must reply to you. You force me to do so yourself. If you had attacked only my Book, I would have let it pass, but you also attack me personally. And the more authority you have among men, the less I am permitted to remain silent when you want to dishonor me....

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Fragments of the Letter to Christophe de Beaumont

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pp. 84-101

Your writings full of prejudices, of partiality, of bile are personal attacks1; they are not censures but satires, the most openly avowed enemy would judge with less passion. Based on your Pastoral Letter, based on this strange indictment, I myself would have been horrified by my book if...

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Books I and II. History of the Government of Geneva

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pp. 102-128

It is known that under Catholicism the Bishop exercised sovereignty. To look for how he had acquired it is a labor of pure erudition that is not at issue here. To find the extent of his power and to show where the distribution of his rights came from, is to clarify by means of principles the...


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pp. 131-161

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pp. 133-162

This is a belated return, I feel, to an overly hackneyed and already nearly forgotten subject. My condition, which no longer permits me any continuous work, and my aversion for the polemical genre have caused my slowness to write and my aversion to publishing. I would even have suppressed...


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pp. 134-163

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First Letter

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pp. 134-152

No, Sir, I do not blame you at all for not having joined the Remonstrators2 to uphold my cause. Far from having approved this step myself, I opposed it with all my power, and my relatives withdrew from it at my request. People were silent when it was necessary to speak; they spoke...

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Second Letter

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pp. 153-165

I assumed, Sir, in my preceding Letter that I had in fact committed the errors against the faith of which I am accused, and I caused it to be seen that because these errors are not at all harmful to society they were not punishable before human justice. God has reserved for himself his own defense...

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Third Letter

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pp. 166-187

I take up again, Sir, this question of miracles that I have undertaken to discuss with you, and after having proved that to establish their necessity was to destroy Protestantism, I am now going to seek what their use is for proving revelation....

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Fourth Letter

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pp. 188-199

I have made you see, Sir, that the imputations drawn from my Books as proof that I was attacking the Religion established by the laws were false. It is, however, by these imputations that I have been judged guilty and treated as such. Let us assume now that I was in fact guilty, and let us see...

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Fifth Letter

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pp. 200-228

After having established, as you have seen, the necessity of dealing severely with me, the Author of the Letters proves, as you are going to see, that the procedure followed against Jean Morelli, although exactly in conformity with the Ordinances, and in a case similar to mine, was not an...

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Sixth Letter

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pp. 229-236

One more letter, Sir, and you are rid of me. But in beginning it I find myself in a very bizarre situation; obliged to write it, and not knowing what to fill it with. Can you imagine that one had to justify oneself from a crime about which one is ignorant, and that one must defend oneself...


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pp. 237-266

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Seventh Letter

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pp. 237-255

You will have found me diffuse, Sir; but I had to be so, and the subjects that I had to treat are not to be discussed by means of epigrams. Besides, these subjects took me less far away than it seems from the one that interests you. In speaking about myself I was thinking about you; and your...

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Eighth Letter

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pp. 256-282

I have drawn, Sir, the examination of your present Government from the Settlement of the Mediation by which this Government is fixed; but far from imputing that the Mediators wanted to reduce you to servitude, I would easily prove on the contrary that in several respects they rendered...

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Ninth Letter

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pp. 283-306

believed, Sir, that it was better to establish what I had to say directly, rather than to stick to long refutations. To undertake a sustained examination of the Letters Written from the Country would be to launch out onto a sea of sophisms. In my opinion, to seize, to expose them...


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pp. 307-314


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pp. 315-329


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pp. 331-334

E-ISBN-13: 9781611682854
E-ISBN-10: 1611682851
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584651642

Page Count: 366
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Trans. from the French
Series Title: Collected Writings of Rousseau