Rousseau 's Theory Of The General Will

1311 WordsMar 9, 20166 Pages
In Rousseau’s Social Contract, he presents the doctrine of the general will, which has two distinct strands. The first strand states that the general will comprises of the will of the assembled people, if certain conditions are met; the second strand says that the general will is always right and always tends to the public utility. This inconsistent definition has brought confusion upon what the general will actually is, and brings to question whether or not these two parts can be reconciled to form one concrete definition. Since Rousseau’s explanation is paradoxical, the point of this essay is to clarify what the connection between these two aspects, reason why they cannot be put together and determine that the first aspect is the more important one for Rousseau’s view. In this paper, I will explain what the general will is by explaining the two strands, evaluate them, and then I will end this paper with the conclusion that these two aspects cannot be put together, and that the first definition is the more important one. The two aspects cannot be reconciled, as they represent different things- the first represents where the general will comes from, and the second is more of a representation of what the general will would be in ideal circumstances, yet the first one is the primary aspect, as it expresses the collective decision made by the people. Rousseau’s first strand of the general will is described as the will of the assembled people, which means that it is the
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