Professor Leonard Williams
Mod. & Cont. Political Thought
March 13, 2017
2. Rousseau boldly asserts that we are “born free” but are “everywhere in chains.” what political theorists have thought about the concept of freedom, its basic meanings, and its presence or absence in the world. Discuss the theories of freedom articulated by Rousseau, Burke, and Hegel. In your view, which theorist expressed the most adequate understanding of freedom? Why?
(300* 3)words for each theorist + 100 words for my opinion = 900 + 100= 1000W
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideas were extremely controversial, his work has influenced political and social change during the past two centuries. His ideas were progressive during the period and society he …show more content…
He talks about how it is important for the state to rule according to the desires of the majority of the population because that’s is what’s best for the community as a whole, meaning each person in the community should give up their freedom for the common good.
Rousseau’s thinking centers around will, individual and general. His idea of will means that all associations are voluntary and he equates it with freedom. For an act to be moral, it must have been of one’s own free will. General will is what is beneficial for the common good. In his state of nature, people are asocial, lazy, and harmless to each other but Rousseau believes that it is better for man to belong to something greater than himself or a community and work for general will. He puts stress on the importance of education as the way humans adapt to work towards the general will.
The few ruled the majority. If this is his aim, then it follows that he should be most concerned with the preservation of freedom in political society, initially so that savage man might be lured out of nature and into society in the first place, and afterwards so that Rousseau’s framework for this society will prevent the present totalitarianism in his time from reasserting itself.
A good society grants its citizens, that strive for the common good, the suitable environment for development (273). Rousseau distinguished between two types of will: particular will
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Jean- Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712, in Switzerland. The European philosopher wrote a book called A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. His belief is that society is corrupted by evil and that man is good in his “state of nature” (Notes). He believed that man are naturally good and if we let them act on their own instinct, that they will act their true nature. He claims that politics are evil and corrupt the society with their systems.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher in 1712-1778. He believed that all humans are born innocent and what corrupt them and makes evil is society. He believes that if there was no society it would not make human beings feel so judged, shy or depended on others. Without society people would feel more equal they would not want to compare themselves Humans would feel freer. Rousseau thought that society weakens humans that if someone were to grow up in a natural place and place far from society they would be stronger. Compared o the people that grow up in a society they weaken.
When Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote his Social Contract, the idea of liberty and freedom were not new theories. Many political thinkers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes had already evolved with their own clarification of liberty and freedom of mankind, and in fact John Locke had already publicized his views and ideas on the social contract as well. In Rousseau’s case, what he did was to transform the ideas incorporated by such substantial words, and present us to another method to the social contract dilemma. What would bring man to leave the state of nature, and enter into a structured civil society? Liberals believes that this was the assurance of protection - liberty to them implied being free from destruction and harm towards one’s property. Rousseau’s concept of freedom was entirely different from that of traditional liberals. According to Rousseau, liberty is meant to voice out your opinion, and participation as human being. “To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man” (Wootton, 454).
One of the most important writers of the Enlightenment was the philosopher and novelist Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778). The work of Rousseau has influenced a generation and beyond and it is argued that the main ideals of the French and American revolutions arose from his works, for example The Discourse on Equality. The main concept of Rousseau's thought is that of 'liberty', and his belief that modern society forced humans to give up their independence, making everyday life corrupt and unfree. One of the central problems Rousseau confronted is best summed up in the first line of arguably his most important work, The Social Contract.
Rousseau sees the first step of exiting the state of nature and getting closer to origin of tyranny is when man decides to leave the lifestyle of being alone and always wandering to settling down and making a house and trying to provide for his basic needs and the ones that are not as necessary as: nourishment, rest, shelter and self-preservation. This is the stage where you see the element playing a part in man’s life and in the way civil society came to be. Man is no longer just worried about himself he has to provide not only for himself but for his entire family which he is searching for. Natural man or savage man lives within himself whereas Rousseau argues that civil man lives in the judgement of others. This is one of the big reasons has to how inequality fomed. All the inequalities Rousseau does take about or basically economic things that happen in nature. This type of economic ineuality is among the many other inequalities but is one of many that inequality originated from. If man had stayed restricted to working by themselves they would have remained free, healthy, good and happy as
Rousseau thought that man was born weak and ignorant, but virtuous. It is only when man became sociable that they became wicked. (Cress, 80) Since civil society makes men corrupt, Rousseau advocated “general will”, more precisely the combined wills of each person, to decide public affairs. General will would become the sovereign and thus it would be impossible for its interests to conflict with the priorities of the citizens, since this would be doing harm to itself. Virtue came from the freedom of men to make decisions for the good of the
Jean Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher who believed that man was born with a pure heart and good intentions; however, society inevitably corrupted man. He believed that any desire to be a good person must be internally initiated from the one seeking it. Once man has immersed himself into society, he allows himself to be persuaded that being good is not the only way of life.
“This fame study of original man, of his real wants, and of the fundamental principle of his duties, is likewise the only good method we can take, to surmount an infinite number of difficulties concerning the Origins of Inequality, the true foundations of political bodies, the reciprocal rights of their members, and a thousand other familiar questions that are as important as they are ill understood.” (Rousseau, Preface lviii)
Rousseau establishes the Social Contract (Compact) that will provide the solution for a protective community of free individuals, who submit their freedoms or duties to the betterment of the whole collective body. While the individual is still free to conduct his life in freedom, the same citizen has a requirement to conduct business and make decisions that will be what’s best for the body. If everyone in the body commits to the arrangements of the contract, then the general members will have no problems with compelling to the political structure (Rousseau pg. 11).
Locke and Rousseau present themselves as two very distinct thinkers. They both use similar terms, but conceptualize them differently to fulfill very different purposes. As such, one ought not be surprised that the two theorists do not understand liberty in the same way. Locke discusses liberty on an individual scale, with personal freedom being guaranteed by laws and institutions created in civil society. By comparison, Rousseau’s conception portrays liberty as an affair of the entire political community, and is best captured by the notion of self-rule. The distinctions, but also the similarities between Locke and Rousseau’s conceptions can be clarified by examining the role of liberty in each theorist’s proposed state of nature and
Jean Jacques Rousseau and Edmond Burke may appear to fall on opposite extremes of political ideology. Credited with having inspired the French Revolution, Rousseau is seen a proponent of liberalism. Denouncing the French revolution on the other hand Burke is seen a strong advocate of conservatism. As far removed from one another as these political ideologies may be, in some key areas, some of the fundamental elements constituting the building blocks of of Rousseau and Burke’s individual political thoughts are to a certain degree comparable. Highlighted in this paper, is their understanding of the freedom and liberty of man.
While the writings of Karl Marx and Jean-Jacque Rousseau occasionally seem at odds with one another both philosophers needs to be read as an extension of each other to completely understand what human freedom is. The fundamental difference between the two philosophers lies within the way which they determine why humans are not free creatures in modern society but once were. Rousseau draws on the genealogical as well as the societal aspects of human nature that, in its development, has stripped humankind of its intrinsic freedom. Conversely, Marx posits that humankind is doomed to subjugation in modern society due to economic factors (i.e. capitalism) that, in turn, affect human beings in a multitude of other ways that, ultimately,
In contrast, Rousseau had a generally positive view on human nature though a rather negative view on modern society. He proposed that humans had once been solitary beings and had learned to be political. He believed that human nature was not fixed and was subject to changed. Likewise, he believed that man was good when in a state of nature, but was corrupted by society as shown in his quotation, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Also differentiating himself from other humanists, Rousseau taught that the sciences and the arts were not beneficial to man. Rousseau believed the general will must always be right and to obey the general will is to be free.
Although, Rousseau distinguishes two specific types of liberty, natural liberty and civil liberty. Natural liberty, Rousseau states, is the freedom to pursue one 's own desires whereas civil liberty is the freedom to pursue the general will. The general will is a key concept in Rousseau 's The Social Contract; Rousseau defines the general will as the majority opinion of what is most beneficial to the common interest without any influence from private interest.
Over the course of history this idea of freedom has been developed and defined by many famous political and philosophical thinkers. Many of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideas are acknowledged in the “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality” and more notably the “The Social Contract”. John Stuart Mill’s major points originate from a book called “On Liberty”. All of these works are still read today and taught in schools around the world. In particular, their ideas on freedom and liberty have drawn a considerable amount of attention. For instance, Rousseau is well known for his idea of “forcing citizens to be free”, while Mill claims that freedom can be found in “pursing our own good in our own way”. Therefore, it is evident that fundamental differences occur between Rousseau’s and Mill’s ideas on liberty and freedom. Rousseau’s rejects this classical liberal idea of freedom of the individual, and instead argues that the highest quality of freedom is achieved through a social contract where collective decisions represent the law and people have a duty to the state, while Mill sees freedom as not being constrained by the government (freedom from laws) and pursuing one’s own good as long as it does no harm to others.