What is the content of human nature and how does it compel mankind to come together to create a civil society? What form does this society take? What benefits does it offer its citizens, and what must each individual sacrifice to reap its rewards? How does sovereign power manifest itself, and what consequences follow for those who choose not to abide by the "general will"? Does Rousseau's political theory set forth a blueprint for democracy-one that results in equality, universal suffrage, and popular sovereignty-or is it a recipe for central state totalitarianism? These are just a few of the complex questions that will confront readers of The Social Contract. Whatever their intent or ultimate result, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's views on the state and man's relationship to it have culminated in one of the most powerful and compelling pieces of political philosophy ever written.
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About the Author
Rousseau's literary career began with his entry in an essay contest in 1749 on the subject of the relationship of science and the arts to morals. His winning essay, Discourses on Sciences and the Arts, soon became the foundation for his later work entitled the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1753). With its publication, he became a figure of some controversy in France. Ideological differences between his views and those of his Enlightenment contemporaries soon surfaced, and Rousseau once again found himself alienated from the intellectual establishment.
His differences with the philosophes proved to be the impetus for Rousseau's future work on the content of human nature and man's relationship to society and the state. Contrary to the individualism and intellectual enlightenment advocated by his contemporaries, Rousseau sought to sublimate individuality in the security of the collective personality known as the general will. This new society would be typified by concern for the community and would be ruled by laws developed through a plan of controlled participation. Rousseau's social theory was developed in his work Julie, ou la Nouvelle Heloise (1761) and in Emile (1762). The institutional structure was constructed in The Social Contract (1761).
In Emile, Rousseau presents his utopian vision of child-centered education, full of the sentiments of Romanticism, a movement that Rousseau inspired.
Rousseau's later years were spent fighting off persecution, both real and imaginary. He died near Paris on July 2, 1778.
Read an Excerpt
The Social Contract
By Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Philosophical Library/Open Road Integrated MediaCopyright © 2016 Philosophical Library/Open Road Integrated Media
All rights reserved.
SUBJECT OF THE FIRST BOOK
Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer.
If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: "As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away." But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions. Before coming to that, I have to prove what I have just asserted.CHAPTER 2
THE FIRST SOCIETIES
The most ancient of all societies, and the only one that is natural is the family: and even so the children remain attached to the father only so long as they need him for their preservation. As soon as this need ceases, the natural bond is dissolved. The children, released from the obedience they owed to the father, and the father, released from the care he owed his children, return equally to independence. If they remain united, they continue so no longer naturally, but voluntarily; and the family itself is then maintained only by convention.
This common liberty results from the nature of man. His first law is to provide for his own preservation, his first cares are those which he owes to himself; and, as soon as he reaches years of discretion, he is the sole judge of the proper means of preserving himself, and consequently becomes his own master.
The family then may be called the first model of political societies: the ruler corresponds to the father, and the people to the children; and all, being born free and equal, alienate their liberty only for their own advantage. The whole difference is that, in the family, the love of the father for his children repays him for the care he takes of them, while, in the State, the pleasure of commanding takes the place of the love which the chief cannot have for the peoples under him.
Grotius denies that all human power is established in favour of the governed, and quotes slavery as an example. His usual method of reasoning is constantly to establish right by fact. It would be possible to employ a more logical method, but none could be more favourable to tyrants.
It is then, according to Grotius, doubtful whether the human race belongs to a hundred men, or that hundred men to the human race: and, throughout his book, he seems to incline to the former alternative, which is also the view of Hobbes. On this showing, the human species is divided into so many herds of cattle, each with its ruler, who keeps guard over them for the purpose of devouring them.
As a shepherd is of a nature superior to that of his flock, the shepherds of men, i.e. their rulers, are of a nature superior to that of the peoples under them. Thus, Philo tells us, the Emperor Caligula reasoned, concluding equally well either that kings were gods, or that men were beasts.
The reasoning of Caligula agrees with that of Hobbes and Grotius. Aristotle, before any of them, had said that men are by no means equal naturally, but that some are born for slavery, and others for dominion.
Aristotle was right; but he took the effect for the cause. Nothing can be more certain than that every man born in slavery is born for slavery. Slaves lose everything in their chains, even the desire of escaping from them: they love their servitude, as the comrades of Ulysses loved their brutish condition. If then there are slaves by nature, it is because there have been slaves against nature. Force made the first slaves, and their cowardice perpetuated the condition.
I have said nothing of King Adam, or Emperor Noah, father of the three great monarchs who shared out the universe, like the children of Saturn, whom some scholars have recognised in them. I trust to getting due thanks for my moderation; for, being a direct descendant of one of these princes, perhaps of the eldest branch, how do I know that a verification of titles might not leave me the legitimate king of the human race? In any case, there can be no doubt that Adam was sovereign of the world, as Robinson Crusoe was of his island, as long as he was its only inhabitant; and this empire had the advantage that the monarch, safe on his throne, had no rebellions, wars, or conspirators to fear.CHAPTER 3
THE RIGHT OF THE STRONGEST
The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty. Hence the right of the strongest, which, though to all seeming meant ironically, is really laid down as a fundamental principle. But are we never to have an explanation of this phrase? Force is a physical power, and I fail to see what moral effect it can have. To yield to force is an act of necessity, not of will — at the most, an act of prudence. In what sense can it be a duty?
Suppose for a moment that this so-called "right" exists. I maintain that the sole result is a mass of inexplicable nonsense. For, if force creates right, the effect changes with the cause: every force that is greater than the first succeeds to its right. As soon as it is possible to disobey with impunity, disobedience is legitimate; and, the strongest being always in the right, the only thing that matters is to act so as to become the strongest. But what kind of right is that which perishes when force fails? If we must obey perforce, there is no need to obey because we ought; and if we are not forced to obey, we are under no obligation to do so. Clearly, the word "right" adds nothing to force: in this connection, it means absolutely nothing.
Obey the powers that be. If this means yield to force, it is a good precept, but superfluous: I can answer for its never being violated. All power comes from God, I admit; but so does all sickness: does that mean that we are forbidden to call in the doctor? A brigand surprises me at the edge of a wood: must I not merely surrender my purse on compulsion; but, even if I could withhold it, am I in conscience bound to give it up? For certainly the pistol he holds is also a power.
Let us then admit that force does not create right, and that we are obliged to obey only legitimate powers. In that case, my original question recurs.CHAPTER 4
Since no man has a natural authority over his fellow, and force creates no right, we must conclude that conventions form the basis of all legitimate authority among men.
If an individual, says Grotius, can alienate his liberty and make himself the slave of a master, why could not a whole people do the same and make itself subject to a king? There are in this passage plenty of ambiguous words which would need explaining; but let us confine ourselves to the word alienate. To alienate is to give or to sell. Now, a man who becomes the slave of another does not give himself; he sells himself, at the least for his subsistence: but for what does a people sell itself? A king is so far from furnishing his subjects with their subsistence that he gets his own only from them; and, according to Rabelais, kings do not live on nothing. Do subjects then give their persons on condition that the king takes their goods also? I fail to see what they have left to preserve.
It will be said that the despot assures his subjects civil tranquillity. Granted; but what do they gain, if the wars his ambition brings down upon them, his insatiable avidity, and the vexatious conduct of his ministers press harder on them than their own dissensions would have done? What do they gain, if the very tranquillity they enjoy is one of their miseries? Tranquillity is found also in dungeons; but is that enough to make them desirable places to live in? The Greeks imprisoned in the cave of the Cyclops lived there very tranquilly, while they were awaiting their turn to be devoured.
To say that a man gives himself gratuitously, is to say what is absurd and inconceivable; such an act is null and illegitimate, from the mere fact that he who does it is out of his mind. To say the same of a whole people is to suppose a people of madmen; and madness creates no right.
Even if each man could alienate himself, he could not alienate his children: they are born men and free; their liberty belongs to them, and no one but they has the right to dispose of it. Before they come to years of discretion, the father can, in their name, lay down conditions for their preservation and well-being, but he cannot give them, irrevocably and without conditions: such a gift is contrary to the ends of nature, and exceeds the rights of paternity. It would therefore be necessary, in order to legitimise an arbitrary government, that in every generation the people should be in a position to accept or reject it; but, were this so, the government would be no longer arbitrary.
To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man's nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts. Finally, it is an empty and contradictory convention that sets up, on the one side, absolute authority, and, on the other, unlimited obedience. Is it not clear that we can be under no obligation to a person from whom we have the right to exact everything? Does not this condition alone, in the absence of equivalence or exchange, in itself involve the nullity of the act? For what right can my slave have against me, when all that he has belongs to me, and, his right being mine, this right of mine against myself is a phrase devoid of meaning?
Grotius and the rest find in war another origin for the so-called right of slavery. The victor having, as they hold, the right of killing the vanquished, the latter can buy back his life at the price of his liberty; and this convention is the more legitimate because it is to the advantage of both parties.
But it is clear that this supposed right to kill the conquered is by no means deducible from the state of war. Men, from the mere fact that, while they are living in their primitive independence, they have no mutual relations stable enough to constitute either the state of peace or the state of war, cannot be naturally enemies. War is constituted by a relation between things, and not between persons; and, as the state of war cannot arise out of simple personal relations, but only out of real relations, private war, or war of man with man, can exist neither in the state of nature, where there is no constant property, nor in the social state, where everything is under the authority of the laws.
Individual combats, duels and encounters, are acts which cannot constitute a state; while the private wars, authorised by the Establishments of Louis IX, King of France, and suspended by the Peace of God, are abuses of feudalism, in itself an absurd system if ever there was one, and contrary to the principles of natural right and to all good polity.
War then is a relation, not between man and man, but between State and State, and individuals are enemies only accidentally, not as men, nor even as citizens, but as soldiers; not as members of their country, but as its defenders. Finally, each State can have for enemies only other States, and not men; for between things disparate in nature there can be no real relation.
Furthermore, this principle is in conformity with the established rules of all times and the constant practice of all civilised peoples. Declarations of war are intimations less to powers than to their subjects. The foreigner, whether king, individual, or people, who robs, kills or detains the subjects, without declaring war on the prince, is not an enemy, but a brigand. Even in real war, a just prince, while laying hands, in the enemy's country, on all that belongs to the public, respects the lives and goods of individuals: he respects rights on which his own are founded. The object of the war being the destruction of the hostile State, the other side has a right to kill its defenders, while they are bearing arms; but as soon as they lay them down and surrender, they cease to be enemies or instruments of the enemy, and become once more merely men, whose life no one has any right to take. Sometimes it is possible to kill the State without killing a single one of its members; and war gives no right which is not necessary to the gaining of its object. These principles are not those of Grotius: they are not based on the authority of poets, but derived from the nature of reality and based on reason.
The right of conquest has no foundation other than the right of the strongest. If war does not give the conqueror the right to massacre the conquered peoples, the right to enslave them cannot be based upon a right which does not exist. No one has a right to kill an enemy except when he cannot make him a slave, and the right to enslave him cannot therefore be derived from the right to kill him. It is accordingly an unfair exchange to make him buy at the price of his liberty his life, over which the victor holds no right. Is it not clear that there is a vicious circle in founding the right of life and death on the right of slavery, and the right of slavery on the right of life and death?
Even if we assume this terrible right to kill everybody, I maintain that a slave made in war, or a conquered people, is under no obligation to a master, except to obey him as far as he is compelled to do so. By taking an equivalent for his life, the victor has not done him a favour; instead of killing him without profit, he has killed him usefully. So far then is he from acquiring over him any authority in addition to that of force, that the state of war continues to subsist between them: their mutual relation is the effect of it, and the usage of the right of war does not imply a treaty of peace. A convention has indeed been made; but this convention, so far from destroying the state of war, presupposes its continuance.
So, from whatever aspect we regard the question, the right of slavery is null and void, not only as being illegitimate, but also because it is absurd and meaningless. The words slave and right contradict each other, and are mutually exclusive. It will always be equally foolish for a man to say to a man or to a people: "I make with you a convention wholly at your expense and wholly to my advantage; I shall keep it as long as I like, and you will keep it as long as I like."CHAPTER 5
THAT WE MUST ALWAYS GO BACK TO A FIRST CONVENTION
Even if I granted all that I have been refuting, the friends of despotism would be no better off. There will always be a great difference between subduing a multitude and ruling a society. Even if scattered individuals were successively enslaved by one man, however numerous they might be, I still see no more than a master and his slaves, and certainly not a people and its ruler; I see what may be termed an aggregation, but not an association; there is as yet neither public good nor body politic. The man in question, even if he has enslaved half the world, is still only an individual; his interest, apart from that of others, is still a purely private interest. If this same man comes to die, his empire, after him, remains scattered and without unity, as an oak falls and dissolves into a heap of ashes when the fire has consumed it.
A people, says Grotius, can give itself to a king. Then, according to Grotius, a people is a people before it gives itself. The gift is itself a civil act, and implies public deliberation. It would be better, before examining the act by which a people gives itself to a king, to examine that by which it has become a people; for this act, being necessarily prior to the other, is the true foundation of society.
Indeed, if there were no prior convention, where, unless the election were unanimous, would be the obligation on the minority to submit to the choice of the majority? How have a hundred men who wish for a master the right to vote on behalf of ten who do not? The law of majority voting is itself something established by convention, and presupposes unanimity, on one occasion at least.
Excerpted from The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Copyright © 2016 Philosophical Library/Open Road Integrated Media. Excerpted by permission of Philosophical Library/Open Road Integrated Media.
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Table of Contents
|I||Subject of the First Book||14|
|II||The First Societies||14|
|III||The Right of the Strongest||16|
|V||That We Must Always Go Back to a First Convention||21|
|VI||The Social Contract||22|
|VIII||The Civil State||26|
|I||That Sovereignty Is Inalienable||31|
|II||That Sovereignty Is Indivisible||32|
|III||Whether the General Will Is Fallible||34|
|IV||The Limits of the Sovereign Power||36|
|V||The Right of Life and Death||39|
|IX||The People (cont.)||50|
|X||The People (cont.)||52|
|XI||The Various Systems of Legislation||55|
|XII||The Division of the Laws||57|
|I||Government in General||59|
|II||The Constituent Principle in the Various Forms of Government||64|
|III||The Division of Governments||67|
|VIII||That All Forms of Government Do Not Suit All Countries||79|
|IX||The Marks of a Good Government||84|
|X||The Abuse of Government and Its Tendency to Degenerate||85|
|XI||The Death of the Body Politic||88|
|XII||How a Sovereign Authority Maintains Itself||89|
|XIII||How a Sovereign Authority Maintains Itself (cont.)||90|
|XIV||How a Sovereign Authority Maintains Itself (cont.)||92|
|XV||Deputies or Representatives||93|
|XVI||That the Institution of Government Is Not a Contract||97|
|XVII||The Institution of Government||98|
|XVIII||How to Check the Usurpations of Government||99|
|I||That the General Will Is Destructible||103|
|IV||The Roman Comitia||110|
On Thursday, July 15th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Jim Brickman to discuss DESTINY.
Moderator: Welcome, Jim Brickman! You have the distinction of being the first musician in our Auditorium since we launched our music site. What an honor for us, and we're thrilled to be discussing your album, DESTINY. How are you this evening?
Jim Brickman: I am great.
Amy from Mustang, OK: Hello, Jim. I was wondering when you started writing piano music. I am 12 and writing music myself (though it's not very good). I have been playing the piano for a little over six years. I think that you are a really talented pianist, and you're definitely my favorite composer.
Jim Brickman: Thank you very much. I am thrilled to hear from people who play the piano. I started when I was 4 years old, and, frankly, I wasn't very good at your age either. I didn't start writing music until I was 16, and I wasn't sure I knew what I was doing. I just played from my heart and soul. I think it is very important to follow your heart and not to feel like you need to be further along than you really are. Just take it as it comes and let it flow.
Bryan McPherson from Clearwater, FL: Why did your style of music change from the successful format of the first two CDs? Your style with the first was inspirational and soothing, without the vocals. What made you want to add voices to your CDs? How long have you been playing piano? Will you be coming to Tampa, Florida, in the near future, as I unfortunately had a family emergency and was unable to attend your concert when you were in the area the last time.
Jim Brickman: I feel that my style has grown through the albums. At the core it will always be solo piano, but I feel that it is important to keep stretching and growing. I need to keep learning with my audience. I have always been a songwriter, so I love writing words and music. I felt that the combo of solo piano with added vocals gave a little something for everyone. I believe I am coming to Tampa in November at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Check the web site -- www.jimbrickman.com.
Moderator: You were classically trained at the Cleveland Institute of Music. How did that training affect your work as a pop composer and performer?
Jim Brickman: The best thing about being trained classically is the foundation and discipline it gives you. I try to think of my education as being sort of a platform to go on and do the thing that is really in your heart.
Jan from Detroit: What effect do you think the Internet will have on the music industry? Are you a fan of MP3?
Jim Brickman: I think that it has a huge impact on the way music is sold and heard. I am a fan of MP3 because I believe that it reaches people who might not ordinarily find me.
Bob D. from Phoenix, AZ: How do you feel about having the "new age" label applied to your music?
Jim Brickman: I don't really mind labels of any kind because people make their own determination of what they like and what they don't. I don't think someone would not buy my record just because it is called "new age." I don't care what they call it -- as long as they buy it!
Malinda from Chicago: Was there a particular inspiration for your new album, DESTINY? Do you have a favorite song on it?
Jim Brickman: The inspiration for DESTINY really came from my own personal experience of ending up doing this for my career. I didn't have any idea that this would be happening to me. I always loved music and enjoyed playing the piano, but I never sought any fame or celebrity attached with that. For me, I really feel we are all meant to do certain things, and the choices that we make lead us to our destination.
Bonnie from Nashua, NH: Your music is so emotional. Do you use music as an outlet for when you're upset or joyful? When are you most creative?
Jim Brickman: Music is definitely an outlet for my emotions. Sometimes it is easier for me to speak through music than to verbalize my thoughts. I don't tend to write music when I am happy. I would say that the emotional moments in life bring out my music focus.
Kathy from Pennsylvania: Will you be doing a CD any time soon with you singing all the lyrics? You have a great voice, and we'd like to hear it more often!
Jim Brickman: When did you hear me sing? I don't plan on doing an all-vocal album any time soon. I feel most comfortable singing live in concert, and as I do it more and more I get more comfortable with it. Possibly one or two songs but never a Jim Brickman CD, all vocal.
Joan from New York: Hi, Jim! Of all the albums that you have produced, which one is your favorite?
Jim Brickman: It is so hard to say because they are all sort of reflections of different times in my life. But I would have to say that BY HEART is closest to my heart.
Moderator: What inspires you? Is it a person, an event, a song lyric?
Jim Brickman: I am inspired by human relationships more than anything. I don't tend to write about places or inanimate objects unless something has happen there with me and someone else or friends. I tend to write about love, friendship, and emotional connections.
Amanda from Takoma Park, MD: Do you have children? If so, do you hope they grow up to be musicians?
Jim Brickman: I don't have any children yet, but it is something I look very much forward to. One of the things that I have learned from my parents is that you have to let people be who they are, so I guess if that is what they want to do, then that is what they are going to be.
Neil R. from Seattle, WA: Since you are such a great pianist, I was wondering what other pianists you admire a lot.
Jim Brickman: I am a big fan of a composer named Erik Satie as well as some of the old George Gershwin musicians. I am not that inspired by contemporary pianists. I feel that in order to be unique you have to have your own voice.
Audra Ann from Boston: Jim, I love how romantic your music is.... Is there anyone in particular you are writing such romantic music for?
Jim Brickman: Well of course!
Danny from Lincolnshire: How long did it take you to become as good as you are?
Jim Brickman: That is an interesting question. I think it is something that evolves. You can't control it. You have to work hard and take it seriously and believe that you have something to say with your music. All of those things together make the music successful.
Lynne D. from Atlanta, GA: You've worked with a lot of great musicians like Carly Simon, Martina McBride, and Herb Alpert. What other artists do you want to work with?
Jim Brickman: I like to work with a very diverse group of people. It helps me to keep learning and exposes my audience to some unique combinations. On my list it could be anyone from Bruce Springsteen to Pavarotti.
Kate from Sarasota: What are some of your favorite books? Are you an avid reader?
Jim Brickman: I am an avid reader, and lately I have been reading the Julia Cameron book THE ARTIST'S WAY, as well as her follow-up to that, THE RIGHT TO WRITE.
Lisa S. from Pensacola, FL: Do you enjoy giving concerts? I really love your music. Please keep writing and playing more.
Jim Brickman: I love performing in concert. It is my favorite thing to do. There is nothing like a live audience to inspire a performer.
Suzanne from Toronto, Ontario: Michelle Wright is so great singing "Your Love." How did you find her, and are you going to write more songs for her?
Jim Brickman: I agree with you. She is one of my favorite singers. We are actually part of the same record company, which is how I met her, and we are working on a brand-new album together, and I will be one of the producers.
Moderator: What comes after DESTINY? What can your many fans expect next?
Jim Brickman: Good question! I would imagine that the very next thing would be a live concert album. Either that or an album of lullabies.
Ginny from Camden, ME: Hi, Jim. Who is your favorite artist? Who would you say influenced you the most?
Jim Brickman: I was influenced by many people but most by Carole King, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, et cetera.
Bryan Underwood from Wytheville, VA: Good evening, Jim! I have been a fan of yours for quite a few years, having collected all of your solo projects and every compilation you have appeared. Plus, I have attended many of your concerts. I have been known to make a six-hour drive to hear you. In other words, I am a devoted fan! Now for my question. What advice could you give someone such as me who is looking to have his own original piano compositions/recordings heard by more than his adoring friends and family? I already do some studio work but would like to put more effort into my composition and performing solo. Any advice you could give would be greatly appreciated. You are the best!
Jim Brickman: First of all, thank you for your support of my music, Bryan, and continued luck with your music as well. I feel that it is very important to put yourself in an environment where the music business surrounds you, for example, Nashville, Los Angeles, New York City -- places where you will find people to learn from, grow from, and experiment with -- and to always have colleagues around. In every business you need to have colleagues, and it is very hard to do that unless you live in one of these places. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and if I hadn't ventured to L.A., there is no way I would be where I am today. It also takes an incredible amount of dedication, and you have to want it more than anything else in the world.
Rhonda from Berkeley, CA: I have all your records and listen to them all the time. (I like PICTURE THIS best!) Do you listen to your own records? Do you have a favorite?
Jim Brickman: I hardly ever listen to my records. In many ways it is a reflection of a period of time in my life, and I like to keep looking forward. Sometimes in a weak moment I will go back to listen to something, and it is such a strange experience because it reminds me of that time in my life and it is so strange. That is the power of music.
Claire from Portland, ME: Jim: What would you consider your signature song?
Jim Brickman: Hi, Claire! I have to say it is an instrumental song called "Angel Eyes" (BY HEART) and as a vocal song, without a doubt "Valentine" (PICTURE THIS).
Moderator: Thank you, Jim Brickman, for joining us tonight. Do you have any final words for our audience?
Jim Brickman: I really appreciate all the kind words, and I look forward to seeing you at a concert sometime soon. Thanks again.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I had to read this particular book along with a few others that concerned the social contract theory including "Leviathan" by Thomas Hobbes, and work by people such as John Locke and the like. Being a philosophy major, I am constantly reading works that take all of one's will power to follow. Whether the ideas in the books aren't all that straight foward, or the writer just wasn't an interesting writer (most philosophers aren't. We're usually philosophers first and writers second or third). However, when I sat down to read this text, which is small and not daunting in the slightest, I was pleased to find that this book was a very easy read. Not only was it easy to read, it was easy to follow, and the ideas were set in clear and concise order. "The Social Contract" by Rousseau explains the social contract theory in a way different from Hobbes, who said that before government the world was in an anarchy with people doing what they wanted when they wanted. For Hobbes, the social contract saved us. However, Rousseau takes another route. He says that human beings were at peace before the social contract, and that the contract made us slaves. Through it we made the laws, or chains, that bind us, hence the saying: Laws are the chains the bind us. All in all, whether you're an aspiring philosopher, or you're simply into politics, I would reccomend that you read this book.
The Social Contract is Jean-Jacques Rousseau's seminal work. He takes on the question of the state, government, and man's desire to be free under these conditions. Although Rousseau speaks quite too favorably of Rome and Sparta when justifying his main points, he nevertheless provides a provocative case for the use of the State, it's laws, and it's authority. However his flaws lie in his assurance of top-down government, and lack of faith in true democracy. He accuses direct democracy as incredibly paralyzing, and inefficient, which is true when applied in the context of mercantile, pre-modern conditions. ¿You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.¿
Should be required in all High Schools.
I read this book my junior year in high school, and it astonished me. I found myself having to read over paragraphs multiple times to merely understand the intense concept of his writing. A must read for anyone with an interest philosophy.
Should be required reading in our schools... could lead to informed citizens who think for themselves.