Questionaire: Jean- Jacques Rousseau and The Social Contract

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Ques: “The problem is to find a form of association… in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.” Does Rousseau have a convincing solution to the problem he poses?

In the 1700’s Jean- Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract. During this time, the social contract was fairly new theory. It stated in order to have a democracy laws were needed which caused everyone to give up some rights in order to do so. Rousseau makes a convincing solution to the problem of being able to be free while united with everyone else through his philosophy on how the social contract works.

Jean- Jacques Rousseau provides a convincing solution to the problem he poses by the social contract through explaining it in steps. The first step he explains is the social contract itself. Rousseau states that by giving up some of your rights you gain others, because while you lose some rights, other people do as well. Each person has the same conditions, which is why no one has any interest in becoming a burden to others because if someone gives up their rights while you give up your own, you are all equal and expected to follow the same rules. If you are all following the same conditions, in essence you are gaining everything you are losing because you are gaining increase force of preservation because everyone has to be safe to live. This is why giving up rights is important because it allows for laws to be made which gives a person the protection they crave. As Rousseau said “Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole”, meaning that the ge...

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...o their neighbor, they gain equal rights because that person in return gives up those rights in order to preserve himself and the state. However, one is not forced to give up their rights, one chooses to do so by residing within the sovereign state’s territory and also by partaking in voting. He freely chooses to give up his natural rights for the common good. Even though, a man gives up some of his rights, he is protected by the rights given to him by the state, which cannot be taken away such as proprietorship. Between the balance of individual rights and rights of the general will, man still remains free because of the choice he makes to reside in that territory.

Work Cited

Cottingham, John. "Society and the Individual: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Social Contract." Western Philosophy: An Anthology. Oxford, OX, UK: Blackwell, 1996. 647-53. Print.
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