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JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU AND HIS VISION OF THE SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY: A CRITICAL APPRECIATION

Author: Ananya Behera, I year of B.A.,LL.B from National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam.

ABSTRACT There have been many recent political developments across the world in recent years. In 2021, Barbados became the world’s most recently established republic, after the removal of the late Queen Elizabeth II. In July 2022, the Rajapaksa family, which held a two-decade-old abusive political power in their hands, recently fled the country amidst a financial crisis, leaving its citizens in a situation of unrest. The evolution of humans and their roles in society have changed over thousands of years and it is essential to learn the roots of the existence of the earliest concepts of constituting oneself into a society. With the advent of new governments and the overthrow of governments by the citizens in the current times, the researcher in this paper seeks to find out the earliest forms of society and the concept of government, and whether there have been times where the citizens themselves give up the power to the government, bestowing to any sort of theory or contract. This paper focuses on the findings of the Rousseau school of thought and his views on the formation of society, the idea of a social contract, his relevance in the current scenarios, and comparison with other fellow thinkers, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke. Key Words: Government, Society, Evolution, Rousseau, Social Contract, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Theory, School of Thought, Power INTRODUCTION Overview According to Shahram Arshadnejad, there exists another kind of contract apart from the present two kinds of contracts – one among human beings and one of a man with the nature. He says that another type of contract exists when people contract among themselves to establish peace and order and remove violence from their daily lives. Bestowing to social contract theories, people have often agreed to give up part of their liberties and submit to authority in exchange for the protection of their remaining rights or the maintenance of the social order, either expressly or implicitly. Review of Literature Du Contrat Social by Jean Jacques Rousseau Rousseau emphasised about the fact that this book was an extract from one of the other works he was working on during that time, but abandoned due to the fact it was simply beyond his strength. In that book, according to Rousseau, the sovereign (i.e., the "general will") should be the primary source of law making in a society. He added that the person must accept "the absolute alienation of each individual with all his rights to the whole community." Rousseau basically meant that for the social contract to exist, individuals had to give up their rights to the collective in order to ensure that such conditions were "equal for all." According to Rousseau, the world is generally peaceful, but in order to resolve the disputes that inevitably arise as society develops and people become more dependent on one another to meet their needs, a social contract is required. However, because the state symbolises the collective will, of which the individual will is a part, and provided that the person is moral, the authority of the state is not necessarily in conflict with the free will of individuals in Rousseau's perspective. Discours sur l’origine de l’inegalité by Jean Jacques Rousseau J.J. Rousseau believed that while humans were solitary in nature, they were indeed healthy, happy, good, and free. He claimed that nascent societies emerged when people started interacting as neighbours and families; this growth, however, gave rise to negative and destructive feelings like pride, envy, and jealousy, which in turn fostered social inequality and vice. As a result of the need for law and government to preserve private property, the development of private property signified a further step toward inequality. The "fatal" idea of property, according to Rousseau, and the "horrors" it brought about were both deviations from a state in which everyone shared ownership of the world. According to Rousseau, the state is a moral being whose purpose is the liberty and equality of its people. The state's life is based on the union of its members. As a result, whenever any government overtakes the people's authority, the social contract is violated, and citizens are no longer compelled to follow but are also obligated to rebel. List of Objectives This paper will study the moral question and position of laws in society as studied by J.J. Rousseau. The following paper seeks to explore the various philosophers and their study of the social contract theory. This paper will also analyse Rousseau’s original works and infer it to make a study of his idea of the social contract theory. Research Methodology Approach to Research: Doctrinal Research was involved in the making of this project, where the secondary sources used are collected from the university library and online archives of books. Books in the original form and internet articles were also used. There was no grassroot level case studies and research that had been conducted. Types of Research: Since the topic of the research paper is not relatively new and unheard of, an explanatory type of research is used in this research. The elements used have been thoroughly explained for the ease of understanding for the reader. Sources of Data Collection: Primarily, secondary sources in the form of internet and physical articles, journals, and books have been used in the making of this project. THE SOCIAL CONTRACT AND ITS PHILOSOPHERS Thomas Hobbes and his Modern Social Contract Theory Hobbes was one of the first philosophers who had put forth this social contract theory, and had argued that anarchy, in which the powerful rule the weak, is the fundamental state of humanity. According to him, most people's lives are "solitary, impoverished, nasty, brutish, and short." Self-preservation is therefore, one's only inherent right. Hobbes proposed that individuals or communities should "contract" with a protector as their sovereign in order to eliminate this underlying fear. Individual rights are forfeited under this social compact, whereas the protector's rights are unassailable. However, he rejected the idea of divine right, and mentioned specifically that he only talks about the formation of government by the people’s will. The main argument made by Hobbes was that any defender was there with the express consent of their subjects. John Locke and his Modern Social Contract Theory The John Locke theory of Social Contract is very different than that of Hobbes. The State of Nature was a predecessor to morality, but not to politics. In such a state, it is assumed that all people are on an equal level with one another and, are therefore, equally capable of finding and subjected to the Law of Nature. Therefore, the State of Nature was at a state of liberty where people were free to follow their own goals and plans without intervention. It was also a reasonably peaceful state due of the Law of Nature and the restrictions it places on people. According to Locke's argument, while divine law and natural law are consistent and have the potential to overlap in scope, they do not coextend. Locke consequently sees no issue if the Bible prescribes a moral code that is more severe than the one that can be derived from natural law, but a significant issue if the Bible teaches something that is against natural law. In terms of legal jurisprudence, one can say that while morality and law do not necessarily overlap, but law must be having some sort of morality in a way to support the law. This is mostly prevalent in the Natural School of Law. Locke was able to get around this issue since one of the standards he employed to determine how to read biblical verses was consistency with natural law. The reign by divine right came to an end with the English revolution. Rather than being a condition of man imposed by God, the state may now be seen as a social organisation created by man. It could be examined and enhanced as an artefact. Like Locke others were also free to think about how political structures evolved from the beginning of man in his natural state. Since natural law establishes people's rights and their status as free and equal beings, Locke's theory of the state of nature prior to the social contract will be strongly related to this theory. The stronger the grounds for adopting Locke’s characterization of people as free, egalitarian, and independent, the more useful the state of nature becomes as a tool for representing people. JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU AND SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY Theory of Natural Man – Philosophy before The Social Contract Before the social contract theory, which is probably his most important work in the field was published, his philosophy also saw the ‘Theory of Natural Man,’ Rousseau saw a divide between society and human nature. He was of the belief that, man was good when he was in a state of nature, but is corrupted by society. This idea is even seen in one of Rousseau's works, where he coins the oxymoronic term noble savage. According to the French philosopher, humans in the pre-political society may act with all the ferocity of an animal. They are good because they are self-sufficient and thus, are not subjected to the vices of the political society that we see today. In his book Discours sur les Arts et les Sciences, Rousseau even argued how arts and sciences have not been beneficial to humankind and that was not because of human needs, but because of a result of vanity, pride, or amour-propre, and positive self-love among men, commonly also known as amour de soi. These ideas were also present in the nationalism movement during the French Revolution in the 1770s and 1780s, which can also be seen as one of the major proponents of the removal of the monarch, King Louis XVI. Humans later underwent what can be called according to him, a psychological change as a result of the pressure of population increase, forcing them to regroup and connect more closely. During this time, they learned to regard other people's approval as a crucial aspect of their own wellbeing. This self-awareness was the Golden Age of Flourishing, according to Rousseau. Political Theory – Social Contract Theory Introduction Rousseau revived the classical Aristotelian view that “man is a social animal, whose nature can be filled only by the state.” Even Plato’s emphasis that “state is a matter of ethics, rather than of law” is also reflected in Rousseau’s thought. Since both Aristotle and Plato stood for good governments at the expense of self-government, Rousseau tried to synthesize it with John Locke’s idea of pleading for self-government. One can even say that Rousseau’s idea of the government is in a way, a mix of the social contract theories of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. Not entirely, but in a way to differentiate, this can be one of the points to mark a difference. According to Rousseau, the nature was first peaceful and calm and this harmony was owed, among other things, to the limited population, the abundance of the natural world, and the absence of rivalry. As society evolved over time, private property was established, and new types of male dependence emerged, leading to economic and social inequality, which can be closely linked to various sociological theories as well. In general agreement with Hobbes, Rousseau proposed a new social contract in response to the state of greed and competition that had developed. This is because Hobbes asserted that because such a social agreement would improve their quality of life in comparison to the natural order, men are rational and interested in it. State of Nature Rousseau believed that living in the natural world was a time of perfect happiness. People who were moved by their emotions did not act in line with reason. Everybody enjoyed unrestricted freedom in the natural world. There was no such thing as private property, rivalry, or jealousy. Every person had a wild, unrestrained life, and there was innocence everywhere. Humans are free beings in both the deep spiritual sense of living according to our own wills and the more surface-level political one of preferring not to be ruled by tyrants. The classic quote of Rousseau, "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains," was inspired by this. The core aspects of Rousseau's "social contract" are the connections between people, the state, and the federal government. Social Contract Rousseau advocated a modern social contract in response to the state of greed and competition that had developed, essentially aligning with Hobbes. Hobbes claimed that because it would allow them to live better lives than they would in the natural world, people are rational and reasonable and somehow motivated to form social agreements. Rousseau’s attempt to imagine the kind of government that best promotes each citizen's individual freedom while also resolving the constraints associated with living in a sophisticated, modern civil society can be seen in The Social Contract. This indicates that, even after entering a contract with a community, individuals are still free to rely only on themselves. Following this social contract, the government created by humans is incredibly reliant on the public. According to Rousseau, it may be impossible for men to believe that they can govern themselves, and as a result, a body must be formed to carry out the social contract. This newly formed body is not a party to the social contract, but the society can still hold it accountable for failing to carry out the accords of the social contract, to which it is not a party. General Will of the People The concept of general will is the crux of what Rousseau’s political system is about. It was a distinction made by the French philosopher between the real will and actual will of a person. He asserts that when citizens are willing the collective good rather than their own individual interests, that is when the general will exists. By asking each individual to vote for what he sees as the collective welfare, it is reached. Since everyone is free to exercise their own will, the majority will eventually emerges. When that majority is determined, those who did not vote in accordance with it must admit to themselves that they did not represent the majority's will and must therefore act in accordance with it. State and the government According to Rousseau, a government simply refers to “the person or group of people chosen to carry out the sovereign will,” but a state refers to “the society as a whole constituted by the social contract and manifesting itself in the supreme general will.” In order to carry out the general will of the people, the sovereign by decree establishes the government. Rousseau’s view of the government is that of the executive side of a modern democracy, whose power may be withdrawn or modified by the sovereign legislature. This Rousseauan monarch is just as absolute as Hobbes'. His person gives the community both himself and all his fights. If that person is still able to exercise his or her rights after the creation of civil society, it is as a citizen and not as an individual. There is no constitutional restriction on a state's sovereign authority. There is no need to restrict the state's authority because it works to improve society. By essence, the sovereign of Rousseau is the people. ROUSSEAU’S RELEVANCE IN TODAY’S TIME It is challenging to emphasize Rousseau's significance historically, and within the Western philosophical tradition. Immanuel Kant's ethical philosophy was the subject of perhaps his greatest direct philosophical influence. The idea that moral behaviour is that which can be applied to all situations is one of the major principles of Kant's ethical system. Rousseau shares the concept that morality is distinct from self-gratification. In case one sees to the legal jurisprudence side of this, it may perhaps be easier to relate to him about the morality factor. But in a glance, one can see that the theory can be criticized on certain common counts. First, the individuals who were naive to the concept of political authority and civil rights could not, from any particular point of time, enter into an agreement and start living a collectivized civil life. Second, if the existence of state is based on agreement of the members of a society, then the old agreement may be revoked for new in accordance with the self-interests of the members. One can even go so far as to say that the mechanical state that is being originated out of this social contract will always be under the fear of destabilization. Besides, it would not be the first time in France to overthrow a despotic government. Even while Rousseau was clearly significant in the development of democratic philosophy and has been regarded by some as the “father of modern democracy,” he had very particular views on the structure of governance. He supported direct democracy, in which it was the duty of every citizen to consent to the rules that would govern them. He highlighted Geneva, where he was born, as the ideal tiny city state where this system of rule could be founded. However, in today’s day, where even the smallest of nations have huge populations, Rousseau’s this very idea will be time consuming and inefficient to the very core. The main reason for this can be said to be the fact that at grassroot level, the concept of direct democracy will certainly work, but the higher it goes, it gets increasingly difficult to make people vote for every single post. Although Rousseau did not develop a theory of international relations, many of his basic ideas have influenced contemporary thinking in this field. Rousseau believed that reliance was the root of all conflict, hence it appears that he would have preferred states to be as independent of one another as possible. He was suspicious of the intentions of leaders in times of war and would undoubtedly have opposed great power action. He had a strong belief in a divine Creator who made the world and made himself known, but not through revelation in the sense of something found in the Bible or in church tradition, but rather through the compassion that comes naturally to us and the appetite for rational wonder that he has fostered in his beings. He believed that if incorrect beliefs and traditions do not corrupt this moral instinct, it will grow. There is a significant overlap with what is commonly referred to as atheist thought, although in a religious or at least doctrinal form. Part of what he believes can also be linked to the fact that he was a philosopher who belonged to the Natural School of Law, and made great relations between Morality, Law and Divinity. Not only religious, but it has also had a great impact on the political structure of society at large. Rousseau's theories of sovereignty and law had a direct influence on French revolutionaries such as Robespierre, and were blamed for some of the worst excesses of the Terror in France. Nevertheless, The Social Contract has also been seen as one of the defining texts of modern political philosophy, emphasising the need for individuals to play a responsible part in civil society if they want their liberty to be assured. This theory established the obedience to political authority and that ultimate political authority rested with the consent of the people. CONCLUSION Criticisms For Rousseau, the social contract theory relates to the emergence of the state as a result of the mutual agreement between people who previously lived in a state of nature. This conception of the state of nature differs from Hobbes', who held that it relates to a chaotic way of life for people in a society where there are no laws, which led to wars between people. According to the general will, the public interest must take priority above the authority's personal interests. The social contract theory aims to safeguard person's freedom and individuality while allowing him to participate in society. Realistically, the idea of the social contract cannot be applied to the present, because Rousseau's thoughts were written when conditions were different from those we are experiencing today. What democracy used to be earlier back in the 18th century and what it is now in the 21st century are worlds apart. In fact, even back then, it is safe to say that there would not have been a clear majority over what is supposed to be correct and what is supposed to be not. The end goal of a sovereign is always the collective good of the public, but it is the route that matters through which it will be achieved. Whether communism or totalitarian society, the reason these governments were even formed in the first place is because there was a requirement to provide communal benefits to the general public. When in power, it will always corrupt, and when in absolute power, it will corrupt absolutely. Today, the global political sphere is not a simple black-and-white majority, but rather factors come at play that are essentially dangerous to the general public at large. While these individuals may be wishing for something as the general will, the power falls in the hands of the sovereign that makes the decision in the end. It is not necessary that the will of sovereign will necessarily coincide with the general will as well. Inference According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's social contract theory, people entered into a social contract as a result of an encounter with the natural condition. Before the formation of private property brought to injustices that called for an organised or civil society, his state of nature initially guaranteed freedom and a happy existence for the residents. He believed that the basis of moral degradation and injustice, which finally resulted to a person losing their freedom, was property. He viewed liberty as implying both participation and popular power. He believed that the sovereign was simultaneously the person and the state. To achieve a just social and political order, both were required. Therefore, Rousseau's social contract theory viewed the bodily government as a moral person that would uphold the welfare of both the whole and its component parts. All laws originated from it, and it also governed the interactions between its constituents. It would serve as both a means and an end in and of itself.


Author: Ananya Behera, I year of B.A.,LL.B from National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam.

ABSTRACT

There have been many recent political developments across the world in recent years. In 2021, Barbados became the world’s most recently established republic, after the removal of the late Queen Elizabeth II. In July 2022, the Rajapaksa family, which held a two-decade-old abusive political power in their hands, recently fled the country amidst a financial crisis, leaving its citizens in a situation of unrest. The evolution of humans and their roles in society have changed over thousands of years and it is essential to learn the roots of the existence of the earliest concepts of constituting oneself into a society.


With the advent of new governments and the overthrow of governments by the citizens in the current times, the researcher in this paper seeks to find out the earliest forms of society and the concept of government, and whether there have been times where the citizens themselves give up the power to the government, bestowing to any sort of theory or contract. This paper focuses on the findings of the Rousseau school of thought and his views on the formation of society, the idea of a social contract, his relevance in the current scenarios, and comparison with other fellow thinkers, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke.


Key Words: Government, Society, Evolution, Rousseau, Social Contract, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Theory, School of Thought, Power


INTRODUCTION


Overview

According to Shahram Arshadnejad, there exists another kind of contract apart from the present two kinds of contracts – one among human beings and one of a man with the nature. He says that another type of contract exists when people contract among themselves to establish peace and order and remove violence from their daily lives.


Bestowing to social contract theories, people have often agreed to give up part of their liberties and submit to authority in exchange for the protection of their remaining rights or the maintenance of the social order, either expressly or implicitly.



Review of Literature


  1. Du Contrat Social by Jean Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau emphasised about the fact that this book was an extract from one of the other works he was working on during that time, but abandoned due to the fact it was simply beyond his strength.


In that book, according to Rousseau, the sovereign (i.e., the "general will") should be the primary source of law making in a society. He added that the person must accept "the absolute alienation of each individual with all his rights to the whole community."  Rousseau basically meant that for the social contract to exist, individuals had to give up their rights to the collective in order to ensure that such conditions were "equal for all."


According to Rousseau, the world is generally peaceful, but in order to resolve the disputes that inevitably arise as society develops and people become more dependent on one another to meet their needs, a social contract is required. However, because the state symbolises the collective will, of which the individual will is a part, and provided that the person is moral, the authority of the state is not necessarily in conflict with the free will of individuals in Rousseau's perspective.


  1. Discours sur l’origine de l’inegalité by Jean Jacques Rousseau

J.J. Rousseau believed that while humans were solitary in nature, they were indeed healthy, happy, good, and free. He claimed that nascent societies emerged when people started interacting as neighbours and families; this growth, however, gave rise to negative and destructive feelings like pride, envy, and jealousy, which in turn fostered social inequality and vice.


As a result of the need for law and government to preserve private property, the development of private property signified a further step toward inequality. The "fatal" idea of property, according to Rousseau, and the "horrors" it brought about were both deviations from a state in which everyone shared ownership of the world.


According to Rousseau, the state is a moral being whose purpose is the liberty and equality of its people. The state's life is based on the union of its members. As a result, whenever any government overtakes the people's authority, the social contract is violated, and citizens are no longer compelled to follow but are also obligated to rebel.



List of Objectives

  • This paper will study the moral question and position of laws in society as studied by J.J. Rousseau.

  • The following paper seeks to explore the various philosophers and their study of the social contract theory.

  • This paper will also analyse Rousseau’s original works and infer it to make a study of his idea of the social contract theory.


Research Methodology

  • Approach to Research: Doctrinal Research was involved in the making of this project, where the secondary sources used are collected from the university library and online archives of books. Books in the original form and internet articles were also used. There was no grassroot level case studies and research that had been conducted.

  • Types of Research: Since the topic of the research paper is not relatively new and unheard of, an explanatory type of research is used in this research. The elements used have been thoroughly explained for the ease of understanding for the reader.

  • Sources of Data Collection: Primarily, secondary sources in the form of internet and physical articles, journals, and books have been used in the making of this project.


THE SOCIAL CONTRACT AND ITS PHILOSOPHERS

Thomas Hobbes and his Modern Social Contract Theory

Hobbes was one of the first philosophers who had put forth this social contract theory, and had argued that anarchy, in which the powerful rule the weak, is the fundamental state of humanity. According to him, most people's lives are "solitary, impoverished, nasty, brutish, and short." Self-preservation is therefore, one's only inherent right.


Hobbes proposed that individuals or communities should "contract" with a protector as their sovereign in order to eliminate this underlying fear. Individual rights are forfeited under this social compact, whereas the protector's rights are unassailable. However, he rejected the idea of divine right, and mentioned specifically that he only talks about the formation of government by the people’s will. The main argument made by Hobbes was that any defender was there with the express consent of their subjects.


John Locke and his Modern Social Contract Theory

The John Locke theory of Social Contract is very different than that of Hobbes. The State of Nature was a predecessor to morality, but not to politics. In such a state, it is assumed that all people are on an equal level with one another and, are therefore, equally capable of finding and subjected to the Law of Nature. Therefore, the State of Nature was at a state of liberty where people were free to follow their own goals and plans without intervention. It was also a reasonably peaceful state due of the Law of Nature and the restrictions it places on people.


According to Locke's argument, while divine law and natural law are consistent and have the potential to overlap in scope, they do not coextend. Locke consequently sees no issue if the Bible prescribes a moral code that is more severe than the one that can be derived from natural law, but a significant issue if the Bible teaches something that is against natural law. In terms of legal jurisprudence, one can say that while morality and law do not necessarily overlap, but law must be having some sort of morality in a way to support the law. This is mostly prevalent in the Natural School of Law.


Locke was able to get around this issue since one of the standards he employed to determine how to read biblical verses was consistency with natural law. The reign by divine right came to an end with the English revolution. Rather than being a condition of man imposed by God, the state may now be seen as a social organisation created by man. It could be examined and enhanced as an artefact. Like Locke others were also free to think about how political structures evolved from the beginning of man in his natural state.


Since natural law establishes people's rights and their status as free and equal beings, Locke's theory of the state of nature prior to the social contract will be strongly related to this theory. The stronger the grounds for adopting Locke’s characterization of people as free, egalitarian, and independent, the more useful the state of nature becomes as a tool for representing people.



JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU AND SOCIAL CONTRACT THEORY

Theory of Natural Man – Philosophy before The Social Contract

Before the social contract theory, which is probably his most important work in the field was published, his philosophy also saw the ‘Theory of Natural Man,’ Rousseau saw a divide between society and human nature. He was of the belief that, man was good when he was in a state of nature, but is corrupted by society. This idea is even seen in one of Rousseau's works, where he coins the oxymoronic term noble savage. According to the French philosopher, humans in the pre-political society may act with all the ferocity of an animal. They are good because they are self-sufficient and thus, are not subjected to the vices of the political society that we see today.


In his book Discours sur les Arts et les Sciences, Rousseau even argued how arts and sciences have not been beneficial to humankind and that was not because of human needs, but because of a result of vanity, pride, or amour-propre, and positive self-love among men, commonly also known as amour de soi. These ideas were also present in the nationalism movement during the French Revolution in the 1770s and 1780s, which can also be seen as one of the major proponents of the removal of the monarch, King Louis XVI.


Humans later underwent what can be called according to him, a psychological change as a result of the pressure of population increase, forcing them to regroup and connect more closely. During this time, they learned to regard other people's approval as a crucial aspect of their own wellbeing. This self-awareness was the Golden Age of Flourishing, according to Rousseau.


Political Theory – Social Contract Theory

Introduction

Rousseau revived the classical Aristotelian view that “man is a social animal, whose nature can be filled only by the state.” Even Plato’s emphasis that “state is a matter of ethics, rather than of law” is also reflected in Rousseau’s thought. Since both Aristotle and Plato stood for good governments at the expense of self-government, Rousseau tried to synthesize it with John Locke’s idea of pleading for self-government. One can even say that Rousseau’s idea of the government is in a way, a mix of the social contract theories of John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. Not entirely, but in a way to differentiate, this can be one of the points to mark a difference.

According to Rousseau, the nature was first peaceful and calm and this harmony was owed, among other things, to the limited population, the abundance of the natural world, and the absence of rivalry. As society evolved over time, private property was established, and new types of male dependence emerged, leading to economic and social inequality, which can be closely linked to various sociological theories as well. In general agreement with Hobbes, Rousseau proposed a new social contract in response to the state of greed and competition that had developed. This is because Hobbes asserted that because such a social agreement would improve their quality of life in comparison to the natural order, men are rational and interested in it.


State of Nature

Rousseau believed that living in the natural world was a time of perfect happiness. People who were moved by their emotions did not act in line with reason. Everybody enjoyed unrestricted freedom in the natural world. There was no such thing as private property, rivalry, or jealousy. Every person had a wild, unrestrained life, and there was innocence everywhere.

Humans are free beings in both the deep spiritual sense of living according to our own wills and the more surface-level political one of preferring not to be ruled by tyrants. The classic quote of Rousseau, "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains," was inspired by this. The core aspects of Rousseau's "social contract" are the connections between people, the state, and the federal government.


Social Contract

Rousseau advocated a modern social contract in response to the state of greed and competition that had developed, essentially aligning with Hobbes. Hobbes claimed that because it would allow them to live better lives than they would in the natural world, people are rational and reasonable and somehow motivated to form social agreements. Rousseau’s attempt to imagine the kind of government that best promotes each citizen's individual freedom while also resolving the constraints associated with living in a sophisticated, modern civil society can be seen in The Social Contract.

This indicates that, even after entering a contract with a community, individuals are still free to rely only on themselves. Following this social contract, the government created by humans is incredibly reliant on the public.

According to Rousseau, it may be impossible for men to believe that they can govern themselves, and as a result, a body must be formed to carry out the social contract. This newly formed body is not a party to the social contract, but the society can still hold it accountable for failing to carry out the accords of the social contract, to which it is not a party.


General Will of the People

The concept of general will is the crux of what Rousseau’s political system is about. It was a distinction made by the French philosopher between the real will and actual will of a person.

He asserts that when citizens are willing the collective good rather than their own individual interests, that is when the general will exists. By asking each individual to vote for what he sees as the collective welfare, it is reached. Since everyone is free to exercise their own will, the majority will eventually emerges. When that majority is determined, those who did not vote in accordance with it must admit to themselves that they did not represent the majority's will and must therefore act in accordance with it.


State and the government

According to Rousseau, a government simply refers to “the person or group of people chosen to carry out the sovereign will,” but a state refers to “the society as a whole constituted by the social contract and manifesting itself in the supreme general will.” In order to carry out the general will of the people, the sovereign by decree establishes the government.

Rousseau’s view of the government is that of the executive side of a modern democracy, whose power may be withdrawn or modified by the sovereign legislature. This Rousseauan monarch is just as absolute as Hobbes'. His person gives the community both himself and all his fights. If that person is still able to exercise his or her rights after the creation of civil society, it is as a citizen and not as an individual. There is no constitutional restriction on a state's sovereign authority. There is no need to restrict the state's authority because it works to improve society.

By essence, the sovereign of Rousseau is the people.


ROUSSEAU’S RELEVANCE IN TODAY’S TIME

It is challenging to emphasize Rousseau's significance historically, and within the Western philosophical tradition. Immanuel Kant's ethical philosophy was the subject of perhaps his greatest direct philosophical influence. The idea that moral behaviour is that which can be applied to all situations is one of the major principles of Kant's ethical system. Rousseau shares the concept that morality is distinct from self-gratification. In case one sees to the legal jurisprudence side of this, it may perhaps be easier to relate to him about the morality factor.


But in a glance, one can see that the theory can be criticized on certain common counts. First, the individuals who were naive to the concept of political authority and civil rights could not, from any particular point of time, enter into an agreement and start living a collectivized civil life. Second, if the existence of state is based on agreement of the members of a society, then the old agreement may be revoked for new in accordance with the self-interests of the members. One can even go so far as to say that the mechanical state that is being originated out of this social contract will always be under the fear of destabilization. Besides, it would not be the first time in France to overthrow a despotic government.


Even while Rousseau was clearly significant in the development of democratic philosophy and has been regarded by some as the “father of modern democracy,” he had very particular views on the structure of governance.


He supported direct democracy, in which it was the duty of every citizen to consent to the rules that would govern them. He highlighted Geneva, where he was born, as the ideal tiny city state where this system of rule could be founded. However, in today’s day, where even the smallest of nations have huge populations, Rousseau’s this very idea will be time consuming and inefficient to the very core. The main reason for this can be said to be the fact that at grassroot level, the concept of direct democracy will certainly work, but the higher it goes, it gets increasingly difficult to make people vote for every single post.


Although Rousseau did not develop a theory of international relations, many of his basic ideas have influenced contemporary thinking in this field. Rousseau believed that reliance was the root of all conflict, hence it appears that he would have preferred states to be as independent of one another as possible. He was suspicious of the intentions of leaders in times of war and would undoubtedly have opposed great power action.


He had a strong belief in a divine Creator who made the world and made himself known, but not through revelation in the sense of something found in the Bible or in church tradition, but rather through the compassion that comes naturally to us and the appetite for rational wonder that he has fostered in his beings. He believed that if incorrect beliefs and traditions do not corrupt this moral instinct, it will grow. There is a significant overlap with what is commonly referred to as atheist thought, although in a religious or at least doctrinal form. Part of what he believes can also be linked to the fact that he was a philosopher who belonged to the Natural School of Law, and made great relations between Morality, Law and Divinity.


Not only religious, but it has also had a great impact on the political structure of society at large. Rousseau's theories of sovereignty and law had a direct influence on French revolutionaries such as Robespierre, and were blamed for some of the worst excesses of the Terror in France. Nevertheless, The Social Contract has also been seen as one of the defining texts of modern political philosophy, emphasising the need for individuals to play a responsible part in civil society if they want their liberty to be assured. This theory established the obedience to political authority and that ultimate political authority rested with the consent of the people.


CONCLUSION

Criticisms

For Rousseau, the social contract theory relates to the emergence of the state as a result of the mutual agreement between people who previously lived in a state of nature. This conception of the state of nature differs from Hobbes', who held that it relates to a chaotic way of life for people in a society where there are no laws, which led to wars between people.


According to the general will, the public interest must take priority above the authority's personal interests. The social contract theory aims to safeguard person's freedom and individuality while allowing him to participate in society. Realistically, the idea of the social contract cannot be applied to the present, because Rousseau's thoughts were written when conditions were different from those we are experiencing today. What democracy used to be earlier back in the 18th century and what it is now in the 21st century are worlds apart.


In fact, even back then, it is safe to say that there would not have been a clear majority over what is supposed to be correct and what is supposed to be not. The end goal of a sovereign is always the collective good of the public, but it is the route that matters through which it will be achieved. Whether communism or totalitarian society, the reason these governments were even formed in the first place is because there was a requirement to provide communal benefits to the general public. When in power, it will always corrupt, and when in absolute power, it will corrupt absolutely.


Today, the global political sphere is not a simple black-and-white majority, but rather factors come at play that are essentially dangerous to the general public at large. While these individuals may be wishing for something as the general will, the power falls in the hands of the sovereign that makes the decision in the end. It is not necessary that the will of sovereign will necessarily coincide with the general will as well.


  1. Inference

According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's social contract theory, people entered into a social contract as a result of an encounter with the natural condition. Before the formation of private property brought to injustices that called for an organised or civil society, his state of nature initially guaranteed freedom and a happy existence for the residents. He believed that the basis of moral degradation and injustice, which finally resulted to a person losing their freedom, was property.

He viewed liberty as implying both participation and popular power. He believed that the sovereign was simultaneously the person and the state. To achieve a just social and political order, both were required. Therefore, Rousseau's social contract theory viewed the bodily government as a moral person that would uphold the welfare of both the whole and its component parts. All laws originated from it, and it also governed the interactions between its constituents. It would serve as both a means and an end in and of itself.



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