Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract Essay example

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The problem is to find a form of association … in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.’ Does Rousseau have a convincing solution to the problem he poses? The opening line of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's influential work 'The Social Contract' (1762), is 'man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they'. These are not physical chains, but psychological and means that all men are constraints of the laws they are subjected to, and that they are forced into a false liberty, irrespective of class. This goes against Rousseau's theory of general will which is at the heart of his philosophy. In…show more content…
Therefore it is the people who hold the power within the state, and also the legal subjects within the republic. Rousseau refers to the individuals as citizens when they are acting passively, and sovereign when acting as an active group for example, devising laws. He writes 'this public group, so formed by the union of all other persons...power when compared with others like itself' (lines 41-43 Rousseau extract). Rousseau's evaluates his solution, perhaps tersely earlier in his work by suggesting that 'the total alienation of each associate, together with all his rights, to the whole of the community' (lines 17-18 Rousseau extract). The main aspects that incorporates Rousseau's version of social contract theory is that he wants to make a distinct separation of the 'will of all' from 'general will'. Will of all or individual will, is private wills and specific to each of the state's members, while general will is a common will for all and reflect the common good for state members. By separating the two wills, can help to reduce conflict that may arise between the two, and by evaluating all the opinions of each member. It is possible to see what issues are more pressing, and cancel out individualistic wills, if the majority of individuals share the opinions, thus making this majority, the general will. Rousseau sums this up when he writes, 'There is often a great deal of
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