John Locke vs Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

1663 Words Dec 25th, 2005 7 Pages
John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are great political philosophers that have many similar insights about society and its political form. However, when closely examining the writings of these thinkers, one can easily discover many subtle differences among them. The two philosophers base their theories on different assumptions, which subsequently lead to dissimilar ideas about the origin of society and the constitution of governments. As a result, their views of the development of society greatly dissent from each other. Locke's and Rousseau's different versions in the development of society cause them to reach disparate conclusions concerning the legislative power, social unit, and revolution rights of the society. Locke believes that …show more content…
Locke indicates that, by giving up some of one's rights, the state gains legislative power and is obliged to use this power to make laws that benefit the people, who hired it. Locke writes that, "This legislative is not only the supreme power of the common-wealth, but sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it...over whom no body can have a power to make laws, but by their own consent, and by authority received from them." (XI 134) Rousseau argues that the state should not be able to acquire legislative power, but simply acts as an executive. He claims that the legislative power comes from the people, for the sovereign is simply the general will of everyone, in which the state should obey and enforce. Rousseau states that, "Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme control of the general will, and, as a body, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole" ( ), showing that the aggregate mind of the people, the general will, has the legislative power as "all" powers are given to it.

Locke stresses individualism in a society, while Rousseau bases the majority of his political theory on the submission to the general will, which is a collective unit. Locke emphasizes that in a society, one should still preserve life, liberty, and property. He claims that instead of being one