Rousseau and the Positive Theory of Liberty

2270 Words10 Pages
Liberty impacts two main areas of political thought; the state of nature and the social contract. This essay will examine wither or not it is proper to characterize Jean Jacque Rousseau as holding a positive theory of liberty. To determine to what extends this is true the following areas must be taken into account and explored; the definitions of liberty and freedom, Isaiah Berlin’s concept of positive and negative liberty, Rousseau understands of Liberty and also why Rousseau’s theory can be characterised as positive liberty. The main argument of this essay is that Rousseau does hold a positive theory of liberty. Jean Jacque Rousseau was born on the 28th June 1712 and died on the 2nd July 1778. Rousseau was a major Genevan…show more content…
Once rulers cease to protect the ruled, the social contract is broken and the governed are free to choose another set of governors or magistrates. Rousseau believed that the only reason human beings were willing to give up individual freedom and be ruled by others was that they saw that their rights, happiness, and property would be better protected under a formal government rather than an anarchist or every-person-for-themselves type of society. Rousseau noted that "Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole. At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party, this act of association creates a moral and collective body, composed of as many members as the assembly contains voters, and receiving from this act its unity, its common identity, its life, and its will." Rousseau claimed in The Social Contract that this contract between rulers and the ruled should be rethought therefore rather than have a government which largely protects the wealth and the rights of the powerful few, government should be fundamentally based on the rights
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