The Rousseau 's Thesis And Social Contract

1548 WordsMar 6, 20177 Pages
To better understand Rousseau’s thesis and social contract he proposed, we must first understand why Rousseau felt compelled to write and his main criticism of society during the 18th century. In sum, Rousseau argued that states (specifically France, though never explicitly stated) have not protected man’s right to freedom or equality. Rousseau began The Social Contract in dramatic fashion. He wrote, “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” (1). This quote is still used today, and is a powerful description of Rousseau’s central issue with society. He believed that every man is “born” naturally free—he has full autonomy and can do what he chooses. However, Rousseau argued that man is bound to the injustices of society.…show more content…
All men must consent to this “two-way commitment between the public and the individuals belonging to it” (8). This social compact between the subjects of a state creates the states “unity, its common identity, its life and its will” (7). Rousseau then laid out the two crucial parts of a state and their crucial separation: the sovereign, or the people, and the government. At the end of Book I, Rousseau summarized his proposed social contract by stating that it “replaces…physical inequalities as nature may have set up between men by an equality that is moral and legitimate, so that men who may be unequal in strength or intelligence become equal by agreement and legal right” (11). Rousseau’s social contract in theory would give each individual, regardless of physical strength or education, guaranteed freedom from the chains of the state. In this relationship, the sovereign and government, which I will describe in more detail in the subsequent chapters, are completely separate. The sovereign represents the will of the people and is the legislative power. The government’s duty is to execute
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