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Questionaire: Jean Jacques Rousseau And The Social Contract

1266 words - 5 pages


Ques: “The problem is to find a form of association… in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.” Does Rousseau have a convincing solution to the problem he poses?
In the 1700’s Jean- Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract. During this time, the social contract was fairly new theory. It stated in order to have a democracy laws were needed which caused everyone to give up some rights in order to do so. Rousseau makes a convincing solution to the problem of being able to be free while united with everyone else through his philosophy on how the social contract works.
Jean- Jacques Rousseau provides a convincing solution to the problem he poses by the social contract through explaining it in steps. The first step he explains is the social contract itself. Rousseau states that by giving up some of your rights you gain others, because while you lose some rights, other people do as well. Each person has the same conditions, which is why no one has any interest in becoming a burden to others because if someone gives up their rights while you give up your own, you are all equal and expected to follow the same rules. If you are all following the same conditions, in essence you are gaining everything you are losing because you are gaining increase force of preservation because everyone has to be safe to live. This is why giving up rights is important because it allows for laws to be made which gives a person the protection they crave. As Rousseau said “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”, meaning that the general will, which is the body politic collectively gives up their rights, but are unified because they collectively receive the benefits, which allows them to be individual at the same time because they have not wavered any rights that have not benefitted themselves (Cottingham,648).
Another convincing solution Rousseau offers is the idea of sovereignty of each individual. This states that a man can have a particular will to the contrary, but will not be able to enjoy the rights of a citizen without being ready to fulfill the duties of a subject. If you are not willing to give up your rights for the rights of all, you should be compelled to do so by the general body because if everyone is giving up something to gain something, you will be compelled to do so to in order to benefit alongside the majority despite your original opinions. Also in the civil state when man gives up his natural liberty he does in fact gain civil liberty and proprietorship of all he possesses, meaning that natural liberty is bounded by the strength of individual while civil liberty is limited by the general will. Property is a matter of civil liberty because it is the right of the first occupier which can be founded only a title, which is...

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