Rousseau Social Contract Essay

1541 words - 6 pages

Rousseau Social Contract

The social pact comes down to this; “Each one of us puts into the community his person and all his powers under the supreme direction of the general will; and as a body, we incorporate every member as an indivisible part of the whole (Rousseau: 61)”. The general will can itself direct the forces of the state with the intention of the whole’s primary goal - which is the common good. The general will does not allow private opinions to prevail. The union of the people, in its passive role is known as the State and is referred to as the Sovereign in its active state. Associates of the body politic are communally known as the people, and individually referred to as citizens or subjects. The primary problem to which the social contract holds the solution is based on the total alienation of each associate to the entire community. Rousseau proposes that every individual give himself absolutely and apply the same conditions for each and every one to result in an agreement where it is in no ones interest to make the conditions burdensome for others. The critiques of this contract are so specifically determined by ones actions, that the slightest amendment must make the agreement invalid; it is crucial to obtain a unanimous recognition and admittance by the whole. If the social pact is desecrated, every man regains his inborn rights to recover his natural freedom, and loses the civil freedom in which he bargained for. Stop. The existence of natural freedom is the argument in which I intend to pursue against Rousseau. This thought shall be revisited in a short while. Rousseau implies upon freedom the definition of the sovereign; it is a reason; a collaboration with others; a civil expression of the general will.

Rousseau’s conclusion stipulates the absolute surrender of ones rights into a union; also referred to as the republic, the body politic, the state, the sovereign and as the power when compared to others of its own kind. His conclusion is however split into three subsets. Rousseau first states that since everyone in the social pact is summoned to the same conditions, it will be of no ones interest to inconvenience others. Secondly, he states that since the alienation is unconditional, no individual citizen has any rights to claim of their own. If these rights were left to the individuals, they would revert to their natural state of own judgements in the absence of authority. And finally, Rousseau adds to his conclusion by affirming that “since each man gives himself to all, he gives himself to no one”(Rousseau:61); meaning that since there is no associate that he doesn’t gain the same rights as others gain over him, each man regains the equivalent of everything he loses; gaining more than what he initially had.

The first premise that Rousseau puts forward is that during a lifetime, each man will come to an obstacle that will endanger his safety and that he will not be able to conquer within his state of nature...

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