Rousseau invested a great deal of intellectual thought into his treatise called The Social Contract ‘ a philosophical theory born of the Age of Enlightenment that formed an intellectual basis for many systems of government . The notions that Rousseau put forth in his writings was a radical departure from the monarchies that were common during the 18th century , as Rousseau removed power from beings of absolute authority and placed it in the hands of the common person where the government served the people and was answerable to them
Rousseau ‘s principal aim in [banner_entry_middle]
writing The Social Contract is to determine how freedom may be possible in civil society , and we might do well to pause briefly and understand what he means by “freedom ” In the state of nature we enjoy the physical freedom of having no restraints on our behavior . By entering into the social contract , we place restraints on our behavior , which make it possible to live in a community . By giving up our physical freedom , however , we gain the civil freedom of being able to think rationally . We can put a check on our impulses and desires , and thus learn to think morally . The term “morality ” only has significance within the confines of civil society , according to Rousseau (Spark Notes
This does not mean that there is no authority present nor is the society a disly society . No nation can survive without . If a strong central authority is not present within the structure of a government then the state will collapse amidst anarchy . This is why rules and laws must be in place . Where the rule of law becomes twisted , however , is when the state decides that it does not have to answer or be accountable to its population . Such an attitude is the hallmark of the regime . In the world of great thinkers , Rousseau addressed the line that needs to be drawn in the proverbial sand in regards to what should be the litmus test for state run authority
Everyone has a natural right to self-preservation . One has legitimate authority over another only if that authority is used to help the subordinate person to survive . Respect for or acknowledgment of authority (as can be seen in the family when the dependent child reaches maturity and may choose to submit to the authority of the parent ) is always entered into voluntarily . Since (moral ) authority of one person or group over another can be derived neither from nature nor from force it must arise from convention (Rousseau
In other words , the state serves the needs of the people and not the people serving the needs of the state . The purpose of the state is to preserve the liberty and well being of its people . A of government lacks any hope for legitimacy or survival . Rousseau further addresses the problems of following excerpt
One cannot legitimately give oneself or enslave oneself to another , nor can a nation give itself to a king . The individual will cannot retain its freedom if… [banner_entry_footer]
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