Freedom and Equality in Rousseau

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Essay #: 055235
Total text length is 16,400 characters (approximately 11.3 pages).

Excerpts from the Paper

The beginning:
Freedom and Equality in Rousseau
PRIVATE
In The Discourse on Inequality and On the Social Contract Jean-Jacques Rousseau reflects upon the origins of human society as it moved from a state of nature to the society of his contemporary Europe. The two works can be seen as complementary texts in describing this process, for while in The Discourse on Inequality Rousseau discusses how original human equality metamorphosed over time into inequality, in On the Social Contract he revaluates the process discussed in the earlier text and speculates how a legitimate sovereignty may be achieved in a social contract that enhances, rather than eliminates, human freedom. In this context, this essay will explore what Rousseau means by the concepts of...
The end:
.....pted by social institutions.
This is, of course, a vision of a world in which reform is impossible as complex social institutions are inherently corrupted. Consequently, Rousseau modifies his vision and his language in On the Social Contract, creating a vision of a possible social order in which the arbitrary power and inequality that he condemned in Discourse on Inequality is mitigated and individual freedom is enhanced by a sovereignty that is acknowledged to lie in the “general will” or the will of the people. Thus, the concepts of “freedom” and “equality” allow us insights into both Rousseau’s methods and his key arguments.
References
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Basic Political Writings.
Trans. Donald Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987.