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

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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