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Discuss The Ideas About The Responsibilities Of The Individual That These Three Examples Might Be Used To Illustrate.

1449 words - 6 pages

1.When in popular assembly a law is proposed, what the people is asked is not exactly whether it approves or rejects the proposal, but whether it is in conformity of the general will, which is their will. Each man in giving his vote, states his opinion on that point , and the general will is found by counting votes. When therefore the opinion that is contrary to my own prevails, this proves neither more not less than that I was mistaken and that what I thought to be the general will was not so. If my private opinion had prevailed, I would have done something other that what I had wanted. In the case I would not have been freeSocial Contract Bk4 Ch2 (p206)2. Jaques Louis David The Lictors returning To Brutus the Bodies of his Sons'3.Caspar Friedrich - Wanderer Above the Sea of FogThese three works were completed over a forty-six year period which marked turbulent times in Europe. Rousseau published the social contract in 1762, twenty seven years before the 'Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen which is believed by many to have been inspired by Rousseau's work. David was completing 'The Lictors returning To Brutus the Bodies of his Sons' as the declaration was published. Viewers of the piece would have been aware of any 'messages' contained within the painting. Friedrich's 'Wanderer above the Sea of Fog' was unveiled in 1818, a mere four years after the German States had routed the Napoleonic invasion. This was a time of great patriotism, where many were looking for the states to unite to form a single country. Despite the differences in time, nationality and social situation, each of these pieces carries a message of individual responsibility to the state.Rousseau contends that in order for Man to be 'free,' he must live in the 'civil state,' guided by reason and no longer a slave to appetite, as he was in the 'state of nature.' In doing this he becomes noble and good, but he will have to set aside his 'particular will' in favour of the 'general will'. The 'particular will' is that which is to an individuals advantage but may be at the expense of others; it is a measure of a personal desire. The 'general will' in contrast will always be for the benefit of society as a whole, and is always correct. If there is not a unanimous agreement in the group, the 'general will' can be determined by a vote. Rousseau reasons that Man desires to be free, and this can only occur when the 'general will' prevails. This passage asserts that if an individual has voted in a manner which is against the majority, he must accept that he made a mistake and be happy that the 'general will has been obtained, freedom is preserved and that the individual will have what he wants. It is the responsibility of the individual to put aside his personal desires in favour of the interests of the state as a whole. This does imply that he has a choice, however, Rousseau goes further in the Social Contract as to advocate that should he refuse to carry out this duty he 'will...

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