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2878 Words Feb 19th, 2015 12 Pages
On ‘The Social Contract’ by Rousseau
Hong Zhang

In class I have discussed this book briefly. My previous discussion is based on how to frame and discuss possible problems like corruption based on Rousseau’s book. In this summary, I will analyze some of the key and interesting points either by this book or by the class discussion.

This book is about political law, government and people. This book gives out bigger view of what a contract really means in different contents. It is one of the most powerful books in human history. Let me try to understand Rousseau's world as follows:

• Legitimacy and Nature Law

Rousseau starts this book by legitimacy. Unfortunately, we have very short life and no human being ever lives long
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I don’t know whether Rousseau was the first one to give that meaning to the word sovereign and many other words. But it is amazing that we still use the words Rousseau used in his Social Contract. Of course, we still use his ideas today.

Rousseau specifically makes distinguish between the two concepts about common will, the will of all and the general will:

There is often a great deal of difference between the will of all and the general will; the latter considers only the common interest, while the former takes private interest into account, and is no more than a sum of particular wills: but take away from these same wills the pluses and minuses that cancel one another,7 and the general will remains as the sum of the differences.

Now though he noticed that people have private interests, he believed that in the aggregate will all the private interests will cross one anther to some degree. If not then there exist some common interests for all social participants. Therefore his sovereign is popular sovereign in the form of everyone’s democratic right. Rousseau opposed interests of associations formed by some members of the society. He said that

When one of these associations is so great as to prevail over all the rest, the result is no longer a sum of small differences, but a single difference; in this case there is no longer a general will, and the opinion which prevails is purely particular.

This is dramatically different from the
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