Second Treatise of Government by John Locke and Discourse on the Origin of Inequality by Jean-Jacques Rousseau are books written to try and explain the origin of society. Both try to explain the evils and inequalities of society, and to a certain degree to discuss whether man in his natural state is better than man in society. These political science based theories do not appear, at first, to have anything in common with J. Hector St. John De Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer, which are letters written by Crèvecoeur during the settling of America and the beginning of the American Revolution, however with examination we can see reflection of both Locke’s and Rousseau’s ideas about things such as human nature, government, and inequality.
Throughout the Age of Enlightenment, thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau contemplated the authority of the state over the individual: they are some of the most prominent theorists of this time period, and their studies have aided in the establishment of the Declaration of Independence as well as modern democracy. Each of these men’s historical expositions -- Hobbes’ Leviathan, Locke’s The Second Treatise, and Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origins of Inequality and The Social Contract -- outline how man’s authentic state of nature contributes to the necessity of a social contract which exists in order to maintain civil society. While each of these philosophers has developed their own theories on the true state
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke were both social contract theorists who set the foundational footprints for the fundamentals of political life right into our own times. The two great thinkers imagined the world without a state in order to determine the legitimacy of the state that is present in reality. They differed greatly in their notions of the ‘state of nature’ and in doing so they developed contrasting conceptions of the role of the state and the nature of rights and liberty granted to the people. Hobbes’ political regime relies on the protest that the sovereign should have unlimited rights with no dissent or dissolution such that public and private interests are parallel. On the other hand, Locke sees man as a creature of reason rather than one of desire wherein he believes that the purpose of the government is to uphold and protect the natural rights of men that are independent of the state. The dichotomy in their beliefs construes their different translations of liberty.
Not just freedom, then, but also rationality and morality, are only possible within civil society. And civil society, says Rousseau, is only possible if we agree to the social contract. Thus, we do not only have to thank society for the mutual protection and peace it affords us; we also owe our rationality and morality to civil society. In short, we would not be human if we were not active participants in society.
When considering the differences between Rousseau’s and Locke’s perspective on property, the origins of social contracts, and equality and inequality within civil society, we must first look at how they approach this topic. Locke approaches this from an ahistorical perspective, meaning that the state of nature Locke describes never actually existed. Locke’s idea that natural rights were bestowed upon men by God is theoretically true. (quote or one more Locke sentence would be nice). Rousseau, however, approaches the issue from a historical context and claims that things have changed over time and therefore can change again. Locke naturalizes the process and makes it appear to be of necessity, while Rousseau analyzes the histori...
“For when any number of men have, by the consent of every individual, made a community, they have thereby made that community one body, with a power to act as one body, which is only by the will and determination of the majority: for that which acts any community, being only the consent of the individuals of it, and it being necessary to that which is one body to move one way”. Men follow the law because “it is a rule of law of nature to abide by pacts”. Men group themselves because it is their human nature to do so. The concept of the social contract was of great significance. Locke “emphasised a contact between the governors and the governed”. A philosopher many centuries before Locke suggested that “he who has experience of the manner in which we order justice and administer the State, and still remains, has entered into an implied contract that he will do as we command him”. The Social Contract is a contract in which two “people” agree upon. In most cases it is a person and its government. According to Rousseau “The social contract was between all members of society, and essentially replaced "natural" rights as the basis for human claims”. The social contract the Locke influenced in America is the Constitution. With the Constitution, people do not directly sign a contract but citizens are obliged to follow
One of John Locke’s most renowned and noteworthy pieces of literature had to be Two Treatises of Government, which brought about new ideas, like the natural rights of man and the relation of the government and its people. All ideas that helped change what was once considered the norms of society, to a much more modern, democratic perspective. His writing was divided into two parts, the First Treatise and the Second Treatise. In the First Treatise, John Locke criticizes Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, as it stated that every man is born a slave to those who are born kings. Furthermore, John Locke in the Second Treatise, states how the government can help their countries prosper by working with the citizens instead of against them. John Locke had deemed that every man was born with certain rights that no government should be able to take away. For centuries, society had lived their life under a monarch government, where the king controlled everything, and everyone around...
VIII). This is termed as moral liberty, in which ‘makes man truly the master of himself’ (Book I, Ch. VIII). The society gives man insight to morality, right and wrong and the ability to act accordingly (Book I, Ch. VIII). By this, he is transformed from an animal to an intelligent man, written by Rousseau (Book I, Ch. VIII). Compared to acting under the forces, man can now act by his moral principles (on private interest) and general will (on public good) (Book I, Ch. VII, VIII). In fact, moral and civil liberty, both are gained after the social contract is formed, has both similarities and differences. To put into parallel terms, moral liberty is one act by the moral principle set by himself, which emphasizes on reasoning and reason, while civil liberty is everyone act by the law set by the citizens, directed by the general will of the sovereign, which focuses on equality (Book I, Ch. VI, VIII). It is seen that moral liberty is more personal than civil liberty, in terms of the subject and also the rules it follows. While both civil and moral liberty requires controlling one’s desire as oppose to the rules. (Book I, Ch.
John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all dealt with the issue of political freedom within a society. John Locke's “The Second Treatise of Government”, Mill's “On Liberty”, and Rousseau’s “Discourse On The Origins of Inequality” are influential and compelling literary works which while outlining the conceptual framework of each thinker’s ideal state present divergent visions of the very nature of man and his freedom. The three have somewhat different views regarding how much freedom man ought to have in political society because they have different views regarding man's basic potential for inherently good or evil behavior, as well as the ends or purpose of political societies.
Rousseau starts his work with the famous phrase “man was/is born free, and nevertheless everywhere he is in chains”. Although you free at birth with each new experience man goes through, he becomes more “chained” down in society. Many things can chain a man down, such as government, nature, wealth, social class and status. Rousseau insists that modern states prevent the physical freedom that becomes ours at the time of birth, and also does nothing to protect our civil freedom. Rousseau then discusses legitimate political authority, which in short is the idea that it is not justifiable for one person to...
Locke and Rousseau present themselves as two very distinct thinkers. They both use similar terms, but conceptualize them differently to fulfill very different purposes. As such, one ought not be surprised that the two theorists do not understand liberty in the same way. Locke discusses liberty on an individual scale, with personal freedom being guaranteed by laws and institutions created in civil society. By comparison, Rousseau’s conception portrays liberty as an affair of the entire political community, and is best captured by the notion of self-rule. The distinctions, but also the similarities between Locke and Rousseau’s conceptions can be clarified by examining the role of liberty in each theorist’s proposed state of nature and civil society, the concepts with which each theorist associates liberty, and the means of ensuring and safeguarding liberty that each theorist devises.
The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx examined the role that the state played and its relationship to its citizen’s participation and access to the political economy during different struggles and tumultuous times. Rousseau was a believer of the concept of social contract with limits established by the good will and community participation of citizens while government receives its powers given to it. Karl Marx believed that power was to be taken by the people through the elimination of the upper class bourgeois’ personal property and capital. While both philosophers created a different approach to establishing the governing principles of their beliefs they do share a similar concept of eliminating ownership of capital and distributions from the government. Studying the different approaches will let us show the similarities of principles that eliminate abuse of power and concentration of wealth by few, and allow access for all. To further evaluate these similarities, we must first understand the primary principles of each of the philosophers’ concepts.
Rousseau’s most idealist conception revolves around the statement of the enforcement of freedom. This is another perspective of analysis for the general will since it is also a normative claim instituted in a normative community. The general will is the basis of the social contract, and the social contract is an agreement by individuals resulting in the formation of an organized society. This is where the political aspect comes into paly, since laws are acts of general will and any state is a republic if it is governed by laws, then the general will in a republic is always right; however, the judgment which guides it is not always enlightened. "When the whole people decrees for the whole people, it is considering only itself; and if a relation is then formed, it is between two aspects of the entire object, without there being any division of the whole. In that case the matter about which the decree is made is, like the decreeing will, general. This act is what I call a law" (Book II, VI). We can see that the laws presented in our community are also acts of general will that all individuals must abide to in order to be part of the social
Rousseau in some perspective did not support ideas of Hobbes and Locke – people who also described, at some points, principles of social contract. Rousseau argued in The Social Contract, " Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains" (Rousseau 1761). For Rousseau, the riddle is the way to accommodate the chains of authority with the "natural state" of people’s freedom. Rousseau's option is to create an administration that could be seen as the one, which deserves to be trusted. Rousseau's answer to this riddle is the principle of General Will, which allows men to be free and allows government to be visible.