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Rousseau Essays (Examples)

Introduction

❶In other words, Locke believed that humans, in their natural state, and prior to the creation of civil society, would have been a kind of sovereign entity, possessing a set of natural rights prescribed by God and nature, and those rights would have afforded individuals the opportunity to protect themselves against the transgressions of others.

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He obviously neglected the opportunity to put theory into practice. His writings directly influenced the leaders of the French and American Revolutions. Later, through his extensive influence on Karl Marx , Rousseau indirectly affected the twentieth century socialist revolutions in Russia, China, Vietnam etc….

The question is, what kind of freedom is Rousseau talking about, and what are these chains he refers to? Rousseau talks about two kinds of freedom, the freedom to act and the freedom to enjoy the fruits of action, both of which serve the goal of the preservation of life. Aside from the realities of everyday survival, his unfettered life is a fairly happy one. In civil society , however, men must labor together and share their products. Compounding the problem, when men come to work together they begin to see differences between each other and these differences contribute to the formation of leaders and followers.

With experience, one learns that those who lead obtain more plentiful shares of goods; so, driven by desires for pleasure, many will seek to become leaders, either by force or subterfuge. The general will shall be embodied in the social contract, a constitution for example. Rather, the contract itself is the means towards an end — the benefit of all is only legitimate to the extent that it meets the general interest.

Therefore, when failings are found in the contract, we renegotiate to change the terms, using methods such as elections and legislature; John Locke theorized the right of rebellion in case of the contract leading to tyranny. Rousseau asks, how do we find a way to get people to live together in groups?

How to live together in a harmonious society and yet be as happy as when we were in the state of nature? He suggests that the group must act uniformly, because only through the collective efforts of all could anyone obtain the necessities of life. Accordingly, the decisions of the group must be made by all its members rather than a particular man or group of men. My sense of this is that he has a jury model in mind, whereby all members are forced to hear the evidence, weigh it reasonably and reach a consensus decision.

He is in no way tied down to any social restrictions. A civil society is the contrasting state of being where two or more individuals unite for the betterment of themselves and the group.

This is done so by implementing rules, laws and regulations, and social restrictions. Because of this, a justice system is implemented to regulate the accepted norms of the society.

This understanding can be based on an array of different arrangements that can be considered a social contract which involve the gain and loss of ones own primal desire. To refer back to the cavemen example, a civil society is when two cavemen form an agreement to assist each other in previously unsociable activities, such as a verbal agreement to fight off a common threat or an economic agreement of trade, but in turn, losing a part of their individuality by leaving the state of nature.

These social contracts between individuals are the foundations of our modern societies which include the general will and the sovereign. Much of his subsequent political writing, notably The Social Contract , was an attempt to resolve the problem of freedom by reconciling the ideal freedom in the state of nature with the freedom possible in a civil society. Beginning with the famous phrase, "Man is born free and everywhere in chains," The Social Contract outlined the social order that would enable human beings to be natural and free—acknowledging no other bondage save that of natural necessity.

While much of his writing was abstract and theoretical, Rousseau was keenly aware of current political events, especially in his native Geneva.

Despite his twenty-year loss of citizenship and persecution by the Genevan authorities, Rousseau always considered himself a Genevan. Critics have long considered much of Rousseau's work extremely controversial, if not decidedly revolutionary. Moreover, Rousseau's works have been subject to various and contradictory interpretations. Rousseau himself maintained in his Confessions , however, that his oeuvre was consistent and coherent, and that any apparent inconsistencies were superficial.

In the years after Rousseau's death, he was seen as a champion of individualism by both counter-revolutionaries and radicals. In general, Rousseau's writings were widely read and critically acclaimed throughout Europe well into the nineteenth century, after which point interest waned until the early twentieth century.

As the bicentenary of Rousseau's birth approached, English commentators began to reassess the import of the writer's life and ideology and critics focused on the contradictory nature of much of his thought.

There have been periodic attempts, such as Ernst Cassirer's essay The Problem of Rousseau , to extract from the variety of his writings the fundamental unity of thought that Rousseau himself claimed existed. Rousseau continued and continues to be read as providing a foundation for a range of political ideologies, including modern democracy, socialist collectivism, totalitarianism, and individualist anarchy.

In recent years, critical attention has shifted from a "paternity" approach—study of Rousseau's "formative influence" on modern society as the father of certain ideas, movements, and events—to attempts at lucid interpretation of the actual meaning of his thought, but he remains a complex or contradictory figure whose ideas and eloquence continue to resonate powerfully with those reading him from the economic and social vantage point of the late twentieth century.

The political views of the philosophes were as dis-tasteful to Rousseau as were most of their opinions. Like their master, Francis Bacon, they believed in strong government; the doctrine of planning called for a ruler with enough power to put plans into effect; and just as Bacon himself once dreamed of converting James I to his way of thinking and then using magnified The Great Legislator practices preventive politics in much the same way as the tutor gives Emile a negative education.

Both create an external environment that will forestall the moral deformation that has been the lot of 'man in general'. Both also manage to create a deep attachment to themselves in their respective charges. Political Obligation or Anarchy? When the question arises which one is absolutely the best government, an insoluble question is being raised because it is indeterminate. Or, if you wish, it has as many good answers as there are possible combinations in the absolute and relative positions of Are free relations possible?

Can the avoidance of personal dependence characteristic of solitude somehow be imported into community? Rousseau's political thought is devoted to finding a form of association that avoids the inherent tendency of social relations toward domination and submission; its project is negative in that political relations are regarded as defensive relations


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Free Rousseau papers, essays, and research papers. The Freedom of Men in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Work - Out of the many philosophers of his time, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s ideas were the most enlightened.

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Jean-Jacques Rousseau “I was born to a family whose morals distinguished them from the people.” (Josephson 9) Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in .

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Rousseau’s most noted work was an article he wrote on political economy in As Rousseau was walking to visit Diderot in a Vincennes prison in , he read an essay competition entry “Mercure de France” sponsored by the Academie de Dijon. Rousseau draws three implications from this definition: (1) Because the conditions of the social contract are the same for everyone, everyone will want to make the social contract as easy as possible for all.

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau Essay Words | 6 Pages. Jean-Jacques Rousseau “I was born to a family whose morals distinguished them from the people.” (Josephson 9) Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland on June 28, Jean-Jacques Rousseau – Swiss-born French essayist, autobiographer, novelist, dramatist, and poet. The following entry provides critical discussion of Rousseau's writing on political theory. Rousseau was a French philosopher and political theorist who is recognized as one of the greatest thinkers of the French Enlightenment.