Montesquieu & Rousseau provides, for the first time in English, two essays by Emile Durkheim on his chief eighteenth-century predecessors in the main stream of Western thought.
Durkheim recognized that Montesquieu had laid down the principles of sociology long before that young science had a name and that Rousseau, too, spoke as a sociologist in The Social Contract. With his characteristic blend of reason and fervor, he enlarged upon these forerunners to create the fundamental ideas of modern sociology.
The essays are valuable for what they tell us of Montesquieu and Rousseau. They are doubly important to readers who are directly concerned with political philosophy and social science. And, as Henri Peyre points out in the Foreword, they are an example of how the best minds of any age can serve each other.