Analysis Of The Social Contract
Rousseau establishes his political philosophy in many of his various works, his most notable ones are the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality and Origins of Political Economy, The Social Contract, and Considerations on the Government of Poland (Bertram, C., 2017). Nonetheless, his other works also share the same political ideas. His focus point is that a state can be real, but it must be led by the ‘general will’ of the people who make it up. This is why his work, The Social Contract, is so famous because it is his most detailed work.
In The Social Contract, He wants to answer what he feels is the essential question of politics, which is the understanding of the freedom of the individual with the authority of the state (Rousseau, J-J., 2013). This compromise is necessary because human society has come to a point where individuals are not able to fulfill their needs on their own but have to ask for the help of others (Bertram, C., 2017).
When Rousseau said, ‘man is brought into the world free, however, he is everywhere in chains,’ he is saying that states limit our freedom and do not care enough to secure the civil freedom that we entered civil society for (Rousseau, J-J., 2013). He says that actual political authority comes from a social contract that is agreed upon by the residents for their protection. When the citizens grouped together, Rousseau called it a ‘sovereign,’ and says it should be thought of as one person (Hergenhahn, B. R., 2014). He understood that every individual has a specific motive that works in his or her favor, but the sovereign overall would speak for the common good of the people. The sovereign just has control over issues that are of public concern, and its rule cannot be questioned, for anyone who violated the social contract death was recommended (Rousseau, J-J., 2013).
The general will find a way to express itself through the general and abstract laws of the state, which are made by a non-native lawgiver when the state is first created, and these laws should guarantee freedom and equity, but the may be different depending on the location (Rousseau, J-J., 2013). The sovereign exercises its power using the law, but states need a legislature to practice official power and complete everyday business. There are many different forms of government and depending on their size they can be divided into democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy. Monarchy is seen as the strongest form of government and is best suited to handle large populations and hot climates, however, different states use different forms of government, and Rousseau felt that aristocracies were the steadiest (Rousseau, J-J., 2013).
This doesn’t mean that the government is the same as the sovereign, the two almost always butt heads. It is all the disagreements that will end up destroying a state, but a healthy state can last for a long time before it ends (Rousseau, J-J., 2013). The population will use their power by attending regular meetings, even if it is hard to get everyone to attend, but it is important to the well-being of the state. If a person tries to send someone in their place or pay their way out then the voice of the people will not be heard and that puts the state in danger. When they vote in these meetings, the people who attend are expected to vote for what is best for the general population, not for themselves (Rousseau, J-J., 2013). In a healthy state, the results of these votes would end in agreement. Rousseau takes the example of the roman republic and its assembly of people, to show that large states can also gather all their people (Rousseau, J-J., 2013).
He suggests creating an office that can network between the government and sovereign and the government and people (Rousseau, J-J., 2013). He also states that in a state of emergency it may be necessary to have a brief dictatorship. The role of the office is to speak about the public’s opinion. While is it acceptable for the people to have their own religion, Rousseau felt that it should be a requirement of the state that the city practices a religion that encourages good citizenship (Rousseau, J-J., 2013).
The Social Contract gives us an alternative option to this dystopia, Rousseau guarantees that every individual will enjoy the protection they receive from this power and still have the same freedom as when they were in nature (Bertram, C., 2017). The key to this is the idea of the general will, which is the wants of the public since the general will is the basis of law and is desired by all individuals (Hergenhahn, B. R., 2014). By following the law, the person is technically following their own will, meaning they are still free, at least according to Rousseau.
It is mentioned in the textbook that Rousseau is thought of as the creator of romanticism, but that information is not mentioned in any of the information I read (Hergenhahn, B. R., 2014). Nor did any of the articles mention that when he was s young lad, he expressed his sexual desires through exhibitionism, I wonder why it was left out? One of the articles I read mentioned that he met Thérèse Levasseur, a maid who later became his lover and wife, together they had five children, who were all given to an orphanage, but it didn’t mention that at the age of fifteen his tutor was also his lover (Bertram, C., 2017). The textbook, I feel was more detailed about his life, it did however fail to mention the degeneration of his mind as he aged (Bertram, C., 2017). Both did talk about his belief that people being inherently good by nature but are tarnished by society. Both the articles and the textbook also mentioned how he felt that in a community the general will should not be tainted by an individual’s personal desire. Also, the textbook didn’t mention that Rousseau was a big impact on Immanuel Kant (Rousseau, J-J., 2013).
Rousseau’s works had a big impact on future philosophers and political theorists, even though his work may have been developed in an unusual way. Rosseau is the inspiration behind many modern political philosophies, and in a way, he may have played a big part in the shaping of the united states. Now that I have learned more about him, I realize that growing up I have heard his philosophy in churches, schools, and home, his way of thinking indirectly influenced me without me knowing. Before I read about any of his works, I always thought that people no matter what wrong they did in life had some good in them, since “nobody is born bad,” in a way I seem to share the same way of thinking as he did.