• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Rousseau is commonly called a `radical` thinker. Does the term plausibly describe his approach to law?

Extracts from this document...


Rousseau is commonly called a `radical` thinker. Does the term plausibly describe his approach to law? Rousseau was the presenter of challenging idea about human beings, nature, politics and history. Whether he was found interesting or disturbing, it is impossible not to be affected by his ideas. In this essay it is necessary to explore whether these ideas make him radical as some would suggest or merely makes him , like other thinkers a renowned philosopher, with ideas that he believed would make the world a better place. Rousseau was very definitive about his views of how the world should have been, which is why he was most likely labelled a radical thinker, he heavily attacked the new science of politics that was headed by the likes of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. In the Discourse on Inequality he rejected the previous attempts to account for the origins of government describing what human beings must have been like in the state of nature. Hobbes had recounted the progress of mankind from a `horrible state of war` with each other and Locke' had said it was a `very precarious, very unsafe` existence that had led to a more secure and organised way of life. ...read more.


Natural man had been sufficient and relied only on himself, but the man in the civil society had become dependant on his fellows in countless ways, even in the point of living in the `opinion of others`. The modern man was surrounded by philosophy, civilisation and codes of morality, but had little to show of himself but `honour without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness`. The radical character of Rousseau's political thought is nowhere more apparent than in his treatment of reason and human nature. He rejected the older ideas of a natural law discoverable through right reason (Aristotle, Locke) and instead insisted that humans had not been endows with reason, that they were not naturally social or political beings. He was adamant that natural law and God had made reason innate in a person, otherwise would not have needed to be taught or to learn things. Rousseau's charge at the beginning of The Social Contract is that virtually all existing governments were illegitimate: "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains." Having raised the issue of legitimacy, Rousseau turned to his most ambitious project to date: the question of how better governments might be established. ...read more.


However, looking at Rousseau one can predict what he would say, that we are not free at all. Instead, we may lack any initiative, we often have difficulty interacting with each other in any meaningful way and that our decisions and behaviour are usually dictated to by us by consumer culture that discourages individual thought. His argument is that we seemed to have lost the community spirit that makes people want to be together, citizens in his idea republic would not be forced into the community but they would agree to it for their mutual benefit. Overall it can be said that Rousseau was a radical thinker who put forward revolutionary theories. He put forward the theory that the government was based on a contract, that is the consent of the governed, and that society should be led by the general will, for him the best government was the republic. Because it was sensitive to the desires of the people. Rousseau clearly promotes a perfect society in the Social Contract which according to his theory would eliminate all society problems. Although such a society would be wonderful, the ideas would not work, quite simply because of the wants and desires of the human for himself and his family. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. Can feminism be thought of as a theory of law or, otherwise, fundamental in ...

    male workers, when in reality women digress from this norm insofar as their working patterns tend to be far more interrupted and part-time. From this a clear paradox is produced, as feminists while thriving to be treated as the males equal simultaneously require a variant from this norm in order to account for their differing responsibilities.

  2. How and why does Locke explain the creation, value and protection of property?

    In the case of arbitrating in property disputes, what is transferred are the enforcements of a pre-existing natural right, in the case of taxation what is transferred is the right to abrogate a right. Since the general abrogation of a right of nature would be tyranny, this can only be avoided where each alienation of that right, i.e.

  1. Karl Marx was the greatest thinker and philosopher of his time. His views on ...

    By the end of the year, Marx made editor- in-chief. A few months after that in 1843 because of his radical writings, and his social views, Marx was forced to step down as editor, and soon after that the paper closed altogether.

  2. Briefly describe Lister's ideas about hospital infection and his suggestions for dealing with this ...

    Because of this, infection carried on to be passed on and people kept on dieing. When Lister operated, he removed his coat, rolled up his sleeves and pinned a large towel over his waistcoat and trousers. He would dip all of the instruments that he was about to use in

  1. Karl Marx - The Greatest thinker and philosopher of his time.

    He left high school in August of 1835 to go on to the University of Bonn in the fall of the same year to study law. His father wanted him to be a lawyer much like himself but when Karl's reckless university life was getting in the way after a year Heinrich transferred him to Berlin.

  2. "...the gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so ...

    This leads on to Machiavelli's most widely known theory, that the end justifies the means - "...if a ruler wins wars and holds on to power, the means he has employed will always be judged honourable, and everyone will praise them."

  1. Power and Politics in Organizations: Public and Private Sector Comparisons

    Second, variations and abrupt changes in the environment of business are ubiquitous today and likely to intensify tomorrow. It could not be otherwise in an era of globalization of the firm, in which, more than ever before, firms venture into a wide variety of cultural settings.

  2. Compare Hobbes and Locke's views on the obligation to obey the law.

    Locke elaborated on these themes in his later political writings, such as the Second Letter on Toleration and Third Letter on Toleration What is political obligation? Political obligation: a moral obligation to (1) obey the laws of your state (equivalent to ?legitimate authority?) (2) support your state in other ways.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work