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Jean Rousseau & the Social Contract~

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Mindy Khamvongsa

on 11 December 2012

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Transcript of Jean Rousseau & the Social Contract~

Jean Rousseau
the Social Contract The life of Jean Rousseau 1750 What we learned in class... How Rousseau had beef with other philosophers... In other words... What Rousseau thought Rousseau was discovered after
receiving first prize for an essay
he wrote called "A Discourse
on the Sciences and the Arts". "Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains..." Each individual philosopher we learned about had a different way of describing what life is, was and should be. Although there was a gap between each theory, some philosphers found it necessary to prove other theories wrong or go against what has been "proven" in the past. According to Rousseau: According to Locke: Locke Hobbes 1760 In 1755, Rousseau
wrote"Discourse on the Origin of
Inequality" Between 1761 & 1762
Rousseau published
"The New Eloise",
"Èmile" and
"The Social Contract" 1770+ Hobbes compared the English Revolution to the “state of nature”, which was brutal, and his negative view of the revolution led him to conclude that society needed a strong king.
Hobbes has a negative view toward human nature “nasty, brutal….”;
Hobbes: a contract exists between the king and the people; but once the king becomes king, he cannot be overthrown and obtains absolute power.
Men cannot know good and evil, and in consequence can only live in peace together by subjection to the absolute power of a common master, and therefore there can be no peace between kings. Peace between states is merely war by other means. John Locke, believed that the state of nature was good. Hence if governments could not do as much for people than they did for themselves in the state of nature, government could be dismantled.
John Locke’s view: the human mind is like a blank slate.
John Locke: government conditional and can be overthrown if it does not represent the people
Peace is the norm, and should be the norm. We can and should live together in peace by refraining from molesting each other’s property and persons, and for the most part we do. John Locke (who wrote about fifty years after Hobbes) didn't think that the state of nature would be as bad as Hobbes envisioned.
Locke didn't think that the social contract was a hypothetical agreement; he thought it was an actual agreement.
So for Locke, it's an actual social contract that we have; not an ordinary contract of the sort that one signs, of course, but a binding agreement nonetheless.
It is that actual binding agreement, which we show we have when we vote for example, that gives the government its right the monopoly of the initiation of force. According to Hobbes: Rousseau asserts that modern states
repress the physical freedom that is our
birthright, and do nothing to secure the Rousseau calls the collective grouping of all citizens the "sovereign," and claims that it should be considered in many ways to be like an individual person. While each individual has a particular will that aims for his own best interest, the sovereign expresses the general will that aims for the common good. The sovereign only has authority over matters that are of public concern, but in this domain its authority is absolute: Rousseau recommends the death penalty for those who violate the social contract.
The general will find its clearest interpretation of the general laws of the state; however, all laws must ensure liberty and equality: beyond that, they may vary depending on local circumstances.
While the sovereign exercises legislative power by means of the laws, states also need a government to exercise executive power, carrying out day-to-day business.
The government is distinct from the sovereign, and the two are almost always in friction. This friction will ultimately destroy the state, but healthy states can last many centuries before they dissolve.
The people exercise their sovereignty by meeting in regular, periodic assemblies. It is often difficult to persuade all citizens to attend these assemblies, but attendance is essential to the well-being of the state.
hen citizens elect representatives or try to buy their way out of public service, the general will shall not be heard and the state will become endangered. When voting in assemblies, people should not vote for what they want personally, but for what they believe is the general will. In a healthy state, the results of these votes should approach unanimity.
To prove that even large states can assemble all their citizens, Rousseau takes the example of the Roman republic and its comitia.
Rousseau recommends the establishment of a tribunal to mediate between government and sovereign and government and people. In cases of emergency, brief dictatorships may be necessary. The role of the censor's office is to voice public opinion.
While everyone should be free to observe their personal beliefs in private, Rousseau suggests that the state also require all citizens to observe a public religion that encourages good citizenship. civil freedom for the sake of which we enter into civil society. Legitimate political authority, he suggests, comes only from a social contract agreed upon by all citizens for their mutual preservation. Rousseau believes we have lost things once we were moved from the natural state to a civil society.

We have become a deprived society where we are no longer working towards a common good, but for selfish needs.

In the natural state we have natural compassion, freedom, and liberty. Rousseau says that in a civil society there are relations of servitude, while in the natural state there are relations of dependence.

He believes that freedom is equally distributed, but not skills and talents. This is what brings us together to depend on each other.

Being a savage man, not caring about others people’s suffering, is unnatural.

Advancement in society means losing moral degression. The
Contract Jean-Jacques Rousseau stresses, like John Locke the idea of a social contract as the basis of society. Locke's version emphasized a contact between the governors and the governed: Rousseau's was in a way much more profound - the social contract was between all members of society, and essentially replaced "natural" rights as the basis for human claims.
Rousseau's solution to the problem of legitimate authority is the "social contract," an agreement by which the people band together for their mutual preservation.
Legislators would be there to guide people in their choices to benefit the entire population, rather than one person.
The bigger the population, the harder it is to control, but it isn`t impossible.
It`s cool and all to respect the man and yourself, but be sure to respect other people - this is called 'Civil Religion'. Rousseau wrote
"Confessions" and "Reveries of a Solitary Walker" between 1764 - 1782 Hobbes presents the "State of Nature"— i.e. Where we would all be if government did not exist. Hobbes invites us to consider what the state of nature would be like.
He thought that the state of nature would, in effect, be the war of all against all. We would all be fighting amongst ourselves for scarce resources, grabbing whatever we can. "The life of man," Hobbes said, would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." Sounds pretty miserable.
To make things worse, people in the state of nature, according to Hobbes, could not even correctly appeal to any sort of higher justice. So Hobbes thought that, in order to have justice, there be a law.
(ex. If a mother murdered their own baby, it wouldn`t be unjust, because there isn`t a law stating that it is unjust)
The dangers of the state of nature are great; and so we all agree to give up some of our freedom liberty in exchange for the promise of protection by others.
That agreement is what makes the government's monopoly on the initiation of force morally legitimate. In other words, it's our agreement that gives government agents the right to reserve certain kinds of power for themselves; they are, ultimately, not just government agents, but ouragents. They govern by the consent of the governed. To sum it all up... Don`t be hating on other citizens! We are here together as one and we should all be searching for a way to benefit everyone, rather than just ourselves. We`re all here for the same reason and should all be aiming for the common good. It`s okay to have your own opinion on things. In fact, your opinion matters and should be voiced for people to know. Tell people what you think is right. We are what we make of the government, but it`s up to you to commit to the general population and keep the common good in mind so we can create a healthy institution. Reflection Questions: In what way do you exercise the common good?
Does the thought of common good influence you?
In your opinion, did humans have natural rights even in the state of nature? Why and why not?
Is human nature good, bad or both?
Is there a distinct relationship between us and the government?
Do you think we have the power to voice our opinion and create a difference?
What do you think about the common good? Born in Geneva June 28,1712
Died July 2, 1778
Rousseau bounced around from place to place often in his lifetime
He was born in Geneva and ran away from it at an early age
He was essentially disowned by both his father an his uncle
He stayed in Savoy for awhile then moved to Paris working various odd jobs along the way
He eventually returned to Geneva but was soon forced to flee after he learned his books were banned from Geneva among other places
He moved to Britain after he was barred from returning to France but ended up returning under a fake name
He was not allowed to publish any books while he was there and eventually suffered a hemorrhage and died at age 68
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