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Freedom and TimeA Theory of Constitutional Self-Government$
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Jed Rubenfeld

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300080483

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300080483.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use.date: 28 November 2021

The Age of the New

The Age of the New

(p.17) Two The Age of the New
Freedom and Time

Jed Rubenfeld

Yale University Press

Freedom, more specifically democratic freedom, under a written constitution, is related to the so-called Year 2000 problem. In order to see this connection, it is necessary to look at a Rousseauian or Jeffersonian moment that gave rise to both the constitutional texts of the 1780s and the computer codes of the year 2000. In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, expresses the idea that “each generation was free to reconstitute political society” as it saw fit, when it saw fit. This idea appears in Thomas Jefferson's second declaration of independence—a letter, written in Paris, addressed to James Madison, and dated September 6, 1789, in which he proclaimed that “the earth belongs to the living.” The proliferation of the imperative to live in the present, and its transformation into an imperative of individual welfare, is evident in three very different domains of contemporary thought and culture, each emblematic of modernity in its own way: rational-actor economics, Freudian psychology, and the concatenation of “modern” or “modernist” art forms.

Keywords:   generation, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, modernity, rational-actor economics, Freudian psychology, art, independence, democratic freedom

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