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MAN is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself

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Introduction

MAN is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave then they. How did this change come about? I do not know. How can it be legitimate? That question I think I can answer. (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 1997) Jean- Jacques Rousseau was born on the 25th of June 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was reared by his aunt and uncle as his mother died shortly after childbirth and his father abandoned him. At the age of sixteen he left Geneva he travelled for fourteen years before settling in Paris in 1742. In 1751 Rousseau began his philosophical works with his essay on the arts and sciences and went on to write other famous works such as the Social Contract. Rousseau also made a text of his own life 'his confessions and Rousseau judge of Jean-Jacques are apologies for what went wrong' (McClelland, J.S 1996) Rousseau's philosophical thinking was somewhat complicated he tried to grasp an emotional and passionate side of mankind. Rousseau's political philosophy had two important principals. The first and foremost being that politics and morality should not be separated and the second principal is freedom which the state should do it's utmost to preserve. ...read more.

Middle

"The problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the Whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and which each, While uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free As before" This is the fundamental problem for which the social contract finds the solution. (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 1997) For this to happen everyone has to give themselves up to the general will and if everyone else will do the same their will be a social contract. This public person, so formed by the union of all other persons formerly took the name of city and now takes that of Republic or body politic; it is called by its members State when passive. Sovereign when active, and power when compared with others like itself. Those who are associated in it take collectively the name of people. (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 1997) For Rousseau this society is free as decisions made by the General will are unpredictable and each man consulting his own self interest is consulting the self interest of every other man. He believes that the social contract gives people the chance to choose their own system of values by which all of the society will live by. ...read more.

Conclusion

He was above all a man of the people and he attempted to find for mankind a solution to the mess he claimed civil society was in. He outlined the problem that men in civil society had in his confessions and the discourse on the origins of inequality and in his work the social contract he attempted to find a solution to the problems. His solution was the general will, according to Rousseau the general will allows men to be free even if they have to be coerced into accepting the general will. Rousseau gives us a great insight into the state and nature of political communities, we learn that men will naturally act in there own self interest but when this self interest is the general will each man acting in his own self interest is also acting in the interest of all society. He teaches us that morality and reason are the basis for all legitimate government. If a Government fails to respect the morality and reason of the individuals it represents it fails to be legitimate and therefore it fails to exist. The constitution of man is the work of nature; that of the state the work of art. It is not in men's power to prolong their own lives; but it is for them to prolong as much as possible the life of the state by giving it the best possible constitution. ...read more.

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