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Feb 2, 2016


For many Jacobins, Rousseau was a saintly figure who provided the blueprint for society. In light of the intensity in which his political ideas were discussed, it seemed inevitable that Rousseau would bear the brunt of the anti-revolutionary backlash. In Germany and Switzerland, where perspectives on the French Revolution were marked by its propensity to export revolution beyond its borders, the first two decades of the 19th century saw an explosion of political writing. Those advocating constitutional reforms and unification were left with the task of untangling Rousseau's more cryptic or unpractical ideas about the general will, and of providing his theory of the state with a coherent and workable theory of representation. In this lecture, Béla Kapossy (Lausanne) elaborates on the German-speaking reception of Rousseau by focusing on the influential text of the self-taught Jurist Karl Ludwig von Haller, who was given the title 'anti-Rousseau'.