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The Responsibilities Of An Individual Essay

1424 words - 6 pages

The Responsibilities of an Individual

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote 'The Social Contract', published in 1762
and from which the passage for this TMA is taken. He was against the
monarchy's 'Divine Right' to rule and believed that the People, or
sovereignty, had to be the legislative authority and obey the law
because they felt they should not because they are forced to. 'When as
'subjects', we obey society's laws, we 'the people', are really only
just obeying ourselves as sovereign 'citizens''1.

Rousseau believed that the people, under general will, would vote for
laws they believed necessary and would be incapable of breaking them
because they deemed these laws morally correct. As all people are
members of the state they share sovereign power by means of voting.
Therefore when a law is proposed, it is the decision of the general
will, i.e. the majority of the people, whether it is accepted or
rejected. Because individuals do not vote for their personal advantage
but for the good of the people, if their individual opinion is in the
minority they accept that they would not be free because their opinion
would not be the general will, which is what they want. For this type
of state to survive, it must be small enough for everyone within it to
take part in the decision-making, all issues must be fully discussed
without any interference from outside and each individual must
exercise their social conscience. To achieve this social freedom
people would have to abandon personal freedom, which would be very
difficult as they are instinctively selfish.

"The Lictors Returning to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons" is a painting
by Jacques-Louis David completed in 1789. It is a large oil on canvas
measuring 3.25mts x 4.22mts in the Neo-Classical style and was painted
for an exhibition at the Salon in Paris. This painting falls into the
genre of history paintings, its theme is of a moralizing nature.
Another of David's painting, "The Oath of Horatii" painted in 1785,
'depicts patriotic duty as being more important than family love: the
three Horatii brothers are shown promising their father to kill their
enemies, the Curatii of Alba, even though the latter are related to
the women folk of the Horatii. The women are shown mourning their
losses in a corner'2. In "The Lictors …. His Sons" Brutus'
responsibilities lay heavy on his shoulders. Having overthrown the
Monarchy and establishing a Roman Republic, Brutus' sons are involved
in a failed plot to restore the monarchy. Brutus has to make a
decision on the fate of his sons and condemns them to death.

The painting depicts a scene at the home of Brutus as his sons' bodies
are returned after their execution. There are in effect two paintings
here. On the right we have the bright colourful figures of the females
who are unhappy and grieving, and...

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