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Jean Jacques Rousseau

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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Who is Jean Jacques Rousseau?

The contribution of Jean Jacques (28 June 1712- 2 July 1778)  can only be comprehensively understanded with a clear idea of the man. He bragged about the fact that he was no statesman, scholar, or philosopher.’ He pretended to be a man, but he never grew morally beyond the level of a pampered child. But he was a bright kid. 

His mind was overly sensitive to certain kinds of impressions, and he had a wonderful ability to express himself in writing. He could focus a fervent and engaging eloquence, a richness of alluring conjecture, and a credible impersonation of logical force on any subject that piqued his errant and erratic fancy. Rousseau’s attention was drawn early on to certain social and political issues. 

Jean Jacques is much more than a theorist of politics. He wrote numerous works on a variety of topics, including society, nature, education, politics, and so on. Discourse of the Origin of Inequality (1744), Emile (1762), and Social Contract (1764) are among his  influential works on political theory (1762). Nonetheless, everything he wrote is connected to his social and political thought in some way. 

He highlighted the freedom of expression in his work Social Contract. Man is born free, yet he is chained everywhere, according to an individual. He is one of them. His personal struggles, oddities, and hatreds have the greatest impact on him. The focal point of his political thought is to rebuild a state and society that is liberating. 

Jean Jacques Rousseau
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Why Should We Read Him?

Amidst all the philosophers out there, Rousseau’s views on different aspects of human life seems to be an exceptional and more intricate presentation. The areas and the minute details that he has emphasised upon seems to be missing in the works of most of his contemporaries. 

Although being a  French speaking philosopher, he always considered himself Genevian. From the standpoint of 18th century Europe, the overall climate of the then society somewhere laid influence on his thoughts. The distinctness of his views can be measured through the following areas where Rousseau presented his commendable views. 

Human Nature

Over and above self-interest, Rousseau assumed that mankind had an intrinsic aversion to other people’s misery. Feeling, not reason, is the common ground for sociability. Men, he claims, are born with positive qualities. Rousseau believed that man was born without evil tendencies, but that he became evil as a result of improper social behavior. 

According to him, men are born innocent and peace-loving, according to Rousseau, and desire to live in a conflicted world. Their lives are full of health, freedom, honesty, and joy. They do not have reason at birth, but they develop it later in life in order to resolve problems. As a result, they are born with two basic instincts: survival and sympathy. Inequality, according to Rousseau, is the root of all evils, putting all others in jeopardy

Distinct Description Of State Nature

In his work A Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Mankind’s Inequality, Rousseau explored the state of nature extensively. He believed that nature is both pre-social and pre-political in nature. There was a civilization, even if it was basic, but no state. He spoke about man’s life in nature since he disagreed with Hobbes and Locke regarding man’s nature and role in nature. 

Jean Jacques assumed that in the wild, all men lived alone, with no obligations or responsibilities. Man was unaffected by social good, evil, or terror since he was free, satisfied, and self-assured. He had no fear of dying or of losing his possessions or family because he lacked both. Man’s action in nature was amoral or non-moral, not moral or immoral. The primeval man was dubbed a “noble savage” by Rousseau. 

Because man had no sense of virtue or vice, right or wrong, good or terrible, the concept of morality was unknown to him. Man’s life was extremely close to nature, and he had complete freedom and equality. He isn’t greedy or possessive, thus he is solely concerned with his immediate basic needs. The pursuit of wealth was never a part of man’s nature.

Jean Jacques believed that nature was in a golden state, and that humanity lived in harmony. However, economic inequity and property privatization disrupted society’s tranquilly, causing tension and fear. As a result of the loss of peace, it became imperative to form a civil society based on a social compact. The transition from a natural to a civilized condition is abrupt.

Jean Jacques Rousseau
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Emphasis On Freedom

There is no other value as important to Rousseau as freedom, and if we had to pick one theme that runs through all of his writings, it would have to be freedom. Despite the fact that Jean Jacques was not shy about describing and discussing it, its critical reception has been fraught with debate and never-ending conflicts. 

It is an understatement to say that the range of interpretations of Rousseau’s concept of freedom is astounding. Before we enter that battleground, we’ll sketch out a framework that encompasses all of Rousseau’s definitions of liberty and assists us in locating the most perplexing or contentious aspects. 

Natural (or intrinsic) freedom is the oldest and most fundamental of all freedoms. It is an inherent aspect of the essential humanity that differentiates man from all other creatures and belongs to each and every member of the human race. Jean Jacques Rousseau stands apart from the liberals because of his essentialist understanding of freedom. 

Rousseau believed that in his day, people were enslaved all across the world, both aristocrats who imagined themselves to be the privileged master class and those who were forced to follow and serve. Jean Jacque Rousseau was the lone person alive in an all-too-human universe. 

Jean Jacques believed that in his day, people were enslaved all across the world, both aristocrats who imagined themselves to be the privileged master class and those who were forced to follow and serve. In that all-too-human political philosophy and legal theory, he is the only man who is still living. It was a difficult chore to do. Natural freedom’s core traits had to be preserved if it was to be used as a criterion of authentic humanity.

Jean Jacques Rousseau Concept Of General Will

Rousseau, unlike practically every other great political thinker, believes that people’s sovereignty is inalienable and indivisible. The people’s ultimate right of self-governance, of selecting their own future, cannot be given away or transferred to any person or body. 

Whereas Hobbes considers a ruler to be sovereign, Rousseau distinguishes between sovereignty, which constantly and entirely rests with the people, and government, which is merely a transitory agent of the sovereign people (as in Locke’s notion). 

Whereas Locke’s concept of inalienable and indivisible sovereignty allows people to delegate their legislative, executive, and judicial powers to government organs, Rousseau’s concept of inalienable and indivisible sovereignty forbids people from delegating their legislative function, the state’s supreme authority. 

Jean Jacques recognizes that the executive and judicial responsibilities must be carried out by particular government organs, but that they are completely submissive to the sovereign people, with no hint of separation or balance of powers.

The General Will’s Sovereignty cannot be represented since it is unalienable and indivisible. Second, representative assemblies have a tendency to develop their own special interests while neglecting those of the community. Rousseau’s preference was always for direct democracies of Swiss city-republic, though such a stance was archaic when modern nation-states were emerging, which is not surprising. 

It is also impossible to delegate the General Will in any form. Any attempt to delegate will be met with a resounding failure. “There is no longer a sovereign when there is a master,” he explained. “The voice of God” is just the “voice of the people.

Jean Jacques Rousseau
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Jean Jacques Rousseau developed his own political theory based on insights gathered from Classical Greek philosophy. It rejected systematic individualism, forcing one to believe that society was more than a jumble of individual atoms, and that the common good—the “public good”—couldn’t be achieved by each individual’s pursuit of private interests or universal selfishness. 

Men could not achieve their own good unless they thought beyond their own private interests to the public good or the good of the entire community of which they are a part. Rousseau’s theories are still highly pertinent in today’s world, for how often have we regretted the unrepresentative nature of representative, party-democracy, and worried about the state turning against the people. To know interesting Facts about Jean Jacques Rousseau CLICK HERE.

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