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For Rousseau, civil society resulted from the degeneration of a basically good state of nature.

The Social Contract and Other Political Writings, Quintin Hoare ..

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Quotes (Author of The Social Contract)

while Rousseau’s social contract theory influenced the role government plays in society
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Wokler, R. (1996) Rousseau, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Published in the ‘Past Masters’ series, this book provides an good overview of Rousseau’s work and contribution.

An article on The Social Contract in The Catholic Encyclopedia.

See, also, P. D. Jimack’s helpful introduction to The Social Contract and Discourses, London: Everyman.
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He calls for a total merger in which each individual gives up his right to control his life in exchange for an equal voice in setting the ground rules of society.


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Rousseau then spent a brief period training to become a Catholicpriest before embarking on another brief career as an itinerantmusician, music copyist and teacher. In 1731 he returned to Mme deWarens at Chambéry and later briefly became her lover andthen her household manager. Rousseau remained with Mme de Warensthrough the rest of the 1730s, moving to Lyon in 1740 to take up aposition as a tutor. This appointment brought him within the orbitof both Condillac and d’Alembert and was his first contactwith major figures of the French Enlightenment. In1742 he travelled to Paris, having devised a plan for a newnumerically-based system of musical notation which he presented to theAcademy of Sciences. The system was rejected by the Academy, but in thisperiod Rousseau met Denis Diderot. A brief spell assecretary to the French Ambassador in Venice followed before Rousseaumoved to Paris on a more permanent basis from 1744, where he continuedto work mainly on music and began to write contributions to theEncyclopédie of Diderot and d’Alembert.

The details of this process Rousseau described in Du contrat social (On the Social Contract) (1762)
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Rousseau appeals to people to surrender their individual rights to a new moral and collective body with one will.

The public person formed by social contract, the republic, has a will he calls the "general will." What it wills is the true interest of what everyone wants whether they realize it or not.

Rousseau's The Social Contract - Roy Rosenzweig …

He says that we should seek unanimous agreement with respect to a new social contract that eliminates the problem of dependence on one another while permitting each person to obey only himself and to remain as free as before.

Rousseas The Social Contract essay on good and bad teachers

When you are forced to obey it, you really are obeying yourself, the true and free you.

According to Rousseau's theory of social contract, people leave an anarchic state of nature by voluntarily transferring their personal rights to the community in return for security of life and property.

Rousseau e o contrato social. A definição de Rousseau …

He says that men need to be governed as they now are and that any future change in human nature will come later as a result of re-education to indoctrinate individuals to believe that the public interest is their personal interest.
Rousseau advocates a new corrective social contract as a blueprint through which a proper society can be built.

Rousseaus hoofdwerk is Het sociaal contract

Although he did not actually support the abolition of private property, he believed that private property should be minimal and should be distributed equally among the members of the society.

Rousseau anticipated the need for the state to minimize private property.

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In The Social Contract Rousseau envisages threedifferent types or levels of will as being in play. First, individualsall have private wills corresponding to their own selfish interests asnatural individuals; second, each individual, insofar as he or she identifieswith the collective as a whole and assumes the identity of citizen,wills the general will of that collective as his or her own, setting asideselfish interest in favor of a set of laws that allow all tocoexist under conditions of equal freedom; third, and veryproblematically, a person can identify with the corporate will of asubset of the populace as a whole. The general will is therefore both a property ofthe collective and a result of its deliberations, and a property of theindividual insofar as the individual identifies as a member of thecollective. In a well-ordered society, there is no tension betweenprivate and general will, as individuals accept that both justice andtheir individual self-interest require their submission to a law whichsafeguards their freedom by protecting them from the private violenceand personal domination that would otherwise hold sway. In practice,however, Rousseau believes that many societies will fail to have thiswell-ordered character. One way in which they can fail is if privateindividuals are insufficiently enlightened or virtuous and thereforerefuse to accept the restrictions on their own conduct which thecollective interest requires. Another mode of political failure ariseswhere the political community is differentiated into factions (perhapsbased on a class division between rich and poor) and where one factioncan impose its collective will on the state as a whole.